Caring For Elderly Cats
Advances in veterinary medicine over recent years mean that more and more of our cats are living well into their late teens and early twenties! As with humans, their needs and requirements alter with age!
Diet - a “senior” cat food is recommended for cats over the age of 7. As cats get older, their metabolism alters, and they have different nutritional requirements to younger cats.
Older cats (over the age of 12 or 13) do tend to sleep more than younger cats; but this doesn’t mean that their curiosity or desire for games, fun and stimulation is in any way diminished!
The most important thing is to know and understand your cat; and you can use this knowledge and understanding to design a personalised play routine for him or her; which takes into account any health conditions, arthritis or other specific needs.
Consider using boxes to create “steps” up to a favourite perch; or use boxes to create a den for a game of hide and seek!
Some very elderly cats have problems stepping into or out of a litter tray or box. A seed tray from a garden centre, or a litter tray with a side cut out can make it a lot easier for an elderly cat to use.
Whilst we discuss toileting problems,
I have found that some cats generally like or dislike the feel of certain types of cat litter... it’s a good idea to try a variety of types, and see which your cat prefers. My cat Whisper who I owned prior to my current quartet of mousers would only use the garden, and refused to use cat litter until we bought her a sand based litter with a consistency similar to soil!
Elderly cats can also benefit from raised, angled bowls, or even from placing their current bowl so it’s at a height to minimise bending or stretching.
All cats love warm places. So a bed by a radiator, or a heat pad are ideal - especially in winter!
Most cats love being groomed, but I find that cats at different life stages prefer the feel of different brushes. I find that elderly cats often prefer softer, rubber brushes that feel more like a massage. Shy cats often respond well to that type of brush too. I also find a little coat conditioning treatment can help restore some of the shine to a very elderly cats coat, help them feel a bit better, and to give them a little spring in their step!