The joy of cat ownership doesn’t stop at kittenhood. As you grow and change as a person, so does your cat. Once a feline reaches age 10, they are considered senior cats. There are numerous benefits to owning a senior cat. Older cats are often lower maintenance and more affectionate as they age and grow out of their once boundless kitten energy. However, senior cats can also present unique challenges regarding their care. At this stage of their lives, it’s all about keeping your senior kitty comfortable and content. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your golden girl (or boy) is living their best life ever.
Health. You will want to visit your veterinarian more often as your cat ages. Ideally every six months if you have the means to do so. This will make it easier for your vet to catch anything of concern early on. Routine blood work is a great proactive measure to catch problems early on and put your mind at ease. Bring up any concerns regarding activity or diet during your visits, as you know your cat the best. If you have a cat who is easily stressed by vet visits, it might be best to have your vet prescribe something for anxiety. You could also look into vets that do house visits so that your cat can be examined in the comfort of their own home.
Nutrition. As a cat ages, their sense of smell and taste starts to fade. This can lead to a decreased appetite. If you notice that your cat is losing weight, try adjusting their feeding times. It may be best for your senior kitty to eat 3 times a day, or to have constant access to food when they want it. Talk to your veterinarian about any changes in your cat’s diet, and see if there are different foods or supplements that you could be giving your cat to improve their nutrition. In addition to loss of appetite, senior cats often don’t drink as much water as they should. Be sure to provide plenty of water bowls around the house, especially near favorite nap spots. Cats are naturally inclined to drink running water, so consider purchasing a water fountain for your senior kitty. They can be purchased for as little as $20, and it’s well worth the price to be sure that your senior cat is drinking enough water.
Comfort. Cats become less agile as they age, and just like humans, may begin to experience aches and pains, especially when trying to move around and go about their day like they used to. Be aware of your cats surroundings and take small measures to relieve discomfort. Elevate food and water bowls so that your cat does not have to bend as far to eat and drink. Put a step ladder by your bed and the couch so that your cat doesn’t have to jump up and down as far. Replace a covered or high top litter box with one that has lower walls so it is easier to climb in and out of. When you’re holding your senior kitty, be sure to set them down gently on the floor. A senior cat’s grooming may suffer due to the discomfort of aging, so be sure to brush your cat so that they’re looking good and feeling good. Most importantly, be sure to spend plenty of quality time with your senior cat. Getting old is hard, and some senior cats express their fears and anxieties by becoming more vocal or clingy. Indulge them a little. Be sure to talk to them, give them plenty of pets and cuddles, and reassure them that they are safe and wanted.
Play. Your cat may be older, but their desire for play hasn’t dimmed. They may not be the electric ball of energy they were as a kitten, but they’ll still need plenty of play time. It’s important to keep a level of physical activity well into your cats senior years. Play also increases mental stimulation and keeps your senior cat sharp and feeling young. Keep them excited by providing plenty of toys to play with and being an active participant in their play time. If you have a senior cat that’s particularly adventurous, you could even try taking them for walks using a vet-approved cat harness. Walking is a good low-impact form of exercise, and it’s much more physically and mentally rewarding than pacing around the house. Just be sure to keep your senior kitty up to date on shots and flea treatment before you head outside.