What Do Older Cats Need To Stay Healthy?
It’s not easy being in your senior years as a cat and if yours is approaching the golden years then she will have different needs than when she was younger. As a responsible cat owner, the best thing to do is to cater to them and be aware of how owning a senior cat is different. Even if they seem to be full of life, you can aid their comfort. This is why we have created the following article that lists her changing needs, and what you can do to help.
Regular Vet Checkups
Your senior cat might seem perfectly fine, enjoying an active lifestyle and still be as affectionate and alert as ever but this is the time where it is important to ensure she has regular vet checkups. Even a healthy cat needs to be examined every six months to pick up underlying problems that you weren’t aware of.
Don’t wait for a change of behavior before taking your senior feline to the vets as early detection is key.
Although it might seem that she has always needed a lot of sleep, the fact is, senior cats need even more. Most cats need anything from 12 to 20 hours of sleep a day and senior cats will need closer to the 20-hour mark to recover from activity.
This is almost like going full cycle, just as a kitten needs more hours of shut-eye. Make sure she has a warm place to rest without a draft around but be sure she isn’t in a place that will cause her to overheat.
A Little Help With Hygiene
A senior cat often finds it more difficult to self groom which is why it is important to give her a little help. Regular brushing with a specialist brush is a must to help prevent matting and hairballs which can be difficult to get rid of for a cat in its advancing years. Long-haired cats will require brushing more than the short-haired breeds and once or twice a day is usually enough for them with once or twice a week for short-haired cats.
Not only do cats live longer indoors, but the older they get, the more important it is to keep her inside. Because they might not be as agile as they used to be and their immune system more fragile, it is a good idea to keep her out of harm’s way. When you cannot supervise a senior cat, it is best to control her environment.
This is one of the easiest yet most significant ways of keeping a senior cat healthy. There are specialist senior cat foods that contain the essential ingredients to help keep her mobile and allows them to pass their food in comfort, with additional immune system support. It all starts with quality protein as the first ingredient but make sure that your cat is getting a balanced diet as they become less mobile which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
If your senior cat becomes overweight they become more susceptible to illness such as joint pain and diabetes among others.
A senior cat might benefit from a different set of vaccinations compared to when she was younger. These can be dependent on the precautions necessary for where you live, whether she enjoys an outdoor lifestyle and infectious diseases.
Although a senior cat will slow down and need more hours of rest, it is important to make sure they are still active. This can help them to stave off a lot of arthritis and ease some of the discomforts that come with less activity.
Some owners like to massage their cat which can help to encourage activity and make it easier for them to move even when they are in their advanced years. Because a kitten might be too much for them to handle, it is best to keep her environment kitten free if possible.
Your senior cat is not likely to be her younger spritely self and with this comes the need for easier access to essentials. This means her food and water supply needs to be placed in a convenient location and her litter tray should be easy to get in and out of.
Although there are certainly benefits to using a high sided tray, this is going to pose an unnecessary challenge for a senior feline. Because a senior cat might not have as much control over her bladder, it can be a good idea to keep a litter tray on every floor of your home. That way, cleanup is easier and your cat will be more comfortable.
Turn On A Light
One of the ways a cat will change as she ages is that her eyesight will weaken. Because of this, getting around at night is not as easy as it once was. Before you go to bed, be sure to leave a light on somewhere so she can navigate her home.
A Little Help
Sometimes getting upstairs can pose the hardest challenge of the day for a senior cat. When you notice it is taking her a long time to do a basic activity, there is nothing wrong with helping her out a little. Pick her up and carry her part of the way or lift her onto the sofa if she is struggling to get there.
Otherwise, a little ramp might give her some independence to reach her favorite spot when you are out, as long as it is not slippery and is secure enough to hold her weight.
It can be sad to see your cat who you have enjoyed the company of for many years starting to show signs of aging but the fact that you are researching how to care for her better shows she is in good hands. Make sure you continue to be sensitive to her changing needs and don’t try to encourage her to do anything that might cause her discomfort.
Any activity should be monitored closely as you don’t want to overexert her and although you might be ready for play when you get home from work, be mindful that she needs more rest than she used to.