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If you’ve got an elderly cat, 15 years or over, then you probably already know that she needs extra special care and attention to make sure that her twilight years are happy and comfortable.
It’s a blessing when your beloved companion lives to a ripe old age – here are some helpful tips to help you take care of your elderly cat.
Your Elderly Cat and Eating
Your elderly cat’s dietary needs are different to those of a younger cat; she needs less protein, as too much can make her kidneys work too hard and cause kidney disease, but what protein she does get has to be very high quality.
You may think that she’s become a fussy eater in her old age, but there are a number of reasons why elderly cats seem to struggle with their food. Stiff joints or the onset of arthritis will make it harder to eat from her usual bowls, so slightly raise her food and water bowls to make it easier.
A reduced sense of smell as she gets older might also lead to what seems like a loss of appetite, and adding a little bit of a smelly food like tuna or salmon oil to her usual meals will help with that.
Dental problems are also more common the older a cat gets, so eating might cause her pain and discomfort, and that’s why it’s especially important for your cat to have regular check-ups at the vet to keep an eye on her teeth and gums.
Of course, your cat is going to become less active as she gets older, so she’ll naturally start to need less food. If you’re worried in any way about a change in her appetite, it’s always best to get a vet’s opinion.
Your Elderly Cat and Hygiene
You’ll probably notice your elderly cat grooming less and missing out certain areas, and that’s because she’s finding it harder to move her body around and reach everywhere she needs to. You’ll need to give her a helping hand as she gets older by grooming her regularly.
Litter tray issues get more common as a cat gets older too, with incontinence, cystitis and diarrhoea all common problems for elderly cats.
Your Elderly Cat’s Mobility and Activity
As cats get older they naturally start to slow down, their joints and muscles are aging and their senses of sight and smell are diminishing, so they’re less likely to hunt. You should still try to encourage your elderly cat with some light play, because it’s good for both exercise and mental stimulation.
She might start to struggle getting up and down stairs, so make sure that you have litter trays on every floor in your house to avoid unintentional accidents.
Your Elderly Cat and Sleep
Your cat will spend most of her time sleeping as she gets older, and you need to think more carefully about her sleeping areas. Her ability to regulate her body temperature will have decreased, and she’ll probably be thinner than she once was, so any sleeping areas need to be soft, comfy and warm.
Senile Behaviour in Elderly Cats
A lot of cats get upset at a change in their routine, and this only increases as they get older. You might notice excessive vocalisation at night – your cat will be feeling more dependent on you so when you’re sleeping she might worry and need the reassurance that you’re there. Letting her sleep in bed with you will help to a point, but this vocalisation can also be caused by hearing loss or hyperthyroidism, which is a common condition in elderly cats.
You might also notice general confusion in your elderly cat, and it’s been suggested that senile cats’ behaviour is similar to dementia in humans.
What physical and behavioural changes have you noticed in your cat as they’ve got older?
Stinky the Farm cat is an older girl. She has her own heated sleeping pad to keep her warm and comfortable.
My kitty lived to be 21. She went thru much of this – the most noticeable was she went from sleeping off by herself to snuggling under the blanket at nite. When she could no longer walk I knew it was time. The sedative use to calm them actually stopped her heart. She was an awesome furbaby. I now have two that are 15 and 16 and am very concious of how they are aging – so far so good.
Soooo important. My baby cat is getting old so I need to start taking special care
I have a cat that is about 12 going on 13 very soon. He likes to sleep on my glass end table. I don’t know why. There are plenty of comfy sleeping areas for him to choose, yet he chooses a cold glass table. I have noticed that he is getting thinner. But still a little spunster. MOL
so many people see ‘less protein’ and think more carbs.. this is beyond not true.. cats as obligate carnivores need animal based ingredients in their food.. higher quality food, with good sources of animal based ingredients is very important..
Carol Bryant says
Such important info. I find that sometimes pet parents think some things are a normal part of aging and the reality is they may need a vet. Great post! I am sharing.
Neither of my cats are elderly yet, but I know that time will be here sooner than I care to believe. Cinco will be 10 in January! It is such a crazy thing because I feel like he should still be a kitten. Anyway, these are great reminders. There is a lot to think about as your cat gets older.
These are really important reminders when caring for our elderly cats. I didn’t know about reducing protein but it really makes sense. Thanks for sharing!
Talent Hounds says
My rescue cat Nala lived to 17 and experienced most of these things in her last year, particularly her last 6 months. She passed a year ago.
Beth | Daily Dog Tag says
We think our cat is 15-we’ve had him for 13 years, so this is pretty timely for me. Thanks!
Great, great post. My parents’ kitty is really up there now – I’m going to guess 18 at this point. I’ll definitely be passing this on.
Cathy Armato says
My cat Maggie lived to nearly 19 and experienced most of these issues. It’s good to be aware & prepared for changes that come with age.
Spencer the Goldendoodle says
Great post, my mom’s cat lived to be just over 18 years old.
Maxwell, Faraday & Allie says
All very, very true. It’s shocking to us how few people understand they’re overfeeding their cats….and that dietery needs diminish. Also – cosequin can work WONDERS for arthritis – we’re witness to it!
The Island Cats says
Great info! The mom says we’re not getting any younger. 😉
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Mr. N is going to get his teeth cleaned later this month. He’ll be seven and I want to make sure he’s in good shape!
Our cat, Angel, is 16 years old. She is still relatively healthy, thank goodness. Though she has slowed down quite a bit from 10 years ago. Great info in this article. Thank you!
Layla Morgan Wilde (Cat Wisdom 101) says
You know I love senior cats. Tuna isn’t the best for kidney cats but a few drops of the oil works or salmon oil.
Even though Binga is 15, she is still pretty active! I do think she is getting crazier as she gets older, though. My human gives her extra food sometimes, since she doesn’t metabolize as effectively as I do, and she was starting to look too thin. She loves getting lunch. I am jealous.
M. K. Clinton says
These are important reminders in taking care of elderly cats. My cat, Miss Gitty lived to be 20+ years old. She stayed active and healthy. I know that I was very fortunate. ♥
Fur Everywhere says
This is fantastic information! When Jewel began to vocalize excessively, it was due to high blood pressure. It’s always best to get your kitty checked out by a vet when you notice any type of behavior change. Thank you for sharing this great information!