Cats make wonderful family pets. They are low maintenance, a wonderful choice for families and single people alike, do not need a large space to roam, or multiple potty breaks during the day. According to ASPCA, the average lifespan of an indoor cat is 13 to 17 years. However, it is not uncommon to see cats live beyond that.
Although cats are low-maintenance pets, as they age, their needs may change. What once worked for your playful little kitten, may not work for your senior cat.
How do you know when your cat has reached their “senior” years? By the time your precious feline has reached 10-11 years old, they are officially considered a senior. That does not mean that they are immediately going to slow down and encounter age-related issues. It just means that certain measures should be taken to ensure they maintain their vitality.
Below is a list of things to consider when caring for your purr baby as they transition into their “golden years.”
Regular Senior Wellness Exams
Scheduling regular wellness check-ups for your cat is one of the most important things you can do. Routine exams are recommended every six months for your older cat. This will allow your veterinarian to check your cat’s overall appearance, dental health, and body condition. They will listen to their lungs and heart and will check for signs of pain. Annual baseline bloodwork is also an important part of their wellness exams. Your vet can run blood work that may include; CBC, liver and kidney function, a thyroid count, and sometimes, a urinalysis.
Your once spry, energetic cat that would get the “nighttime frenzies” has taken a slower pace in life. Older cats are more prone to arthritis and cannot move as easily as they once could. Jumping on the countertops while swinging his tail has been demoted to lazily bumming on the couch. It is important that your cat has easy access to their litter box, food, water, and favorite resting spots. Sometimes older cats may need additional litter boxes placed throughout the home to help them “make it” to the bathroom. Cats love to rest in warm spots. Find a nice, draft-free location for your purry friend to rest. In their former youth, if your cat enjoyed climbing to his favorite spot, perhaps a ramp or modified location will be best suited for your cat. A nightlight could help your older cat whose peepers aren’t as sharp as they once were. Eyesight is not uncommon to diminish in their older years. Keep their surroundings consistent and easily navigable.
Age-Appropriate Nutrition for Your Aging Cat
Proper nutrition is a very important aspect of keeping your feline happy and healthy. High-quality ingredients are more digestible. This allows them to absorb more of the nutrients that they need. According to PetSmart.com, senior cats need more taurine, a heart-healthy ingredient found in cat food proteins. Speak with your vet to determine the best quality food for your cat. Some cats have a hard time maintaining their weight, while others become overweight. There are special formulations that are tailored to your cat’s specific needs.
Proper Grooming for Your Senior Cat
Just like people, sometimes cats have a hard time maintaining their lush manes as they grow older. Make sure to keep your cat combed and mat-free. This will help keep them comfortable, removes excess hair, stimulates circulation and sebaceous gland secretions which helps keep that beautiful shine in their coat.
Enrichment, Playtime, and Companionship
According to Richard Goldstein, DVM, assistant professor in small animal medicine at Cornell University, older cats become more set in their ways, cherish predictable days, and may need more emotional support as they age. Life happens. Obligations outside of the home require us to leave our pets sometimes. This can be very challenging when dealing with an aging cat. They are used to having their humans around. When we cannot be with them, it is important to find someone that can be your cat’s caregiver. A pet is most comfortable in their own home/environment, even when their owners are away. Space Coast Pet Services is a great resource for your family during your absence. Drop-in visits to your home will keep the consistency with your pet’s environment and routine. We provide a customized approach that will ensure your pet receives what they need when they need it; changing water, litter box, administering any necessary medications, playtime, and even some extra snuggles.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when caring for your older purr baby. They are a part of your family and need you the most during this confusing time in their lives. Keeping them happy and healthy will ensure you and your cat enjoy their golden years together! Check out our blog on pet loss. Inevitably, we need to be prepared as our loved ones, including pets, will cross the rainbow bridge someday.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, in 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, bonded, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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