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Veterinarian’s Guide: Caring for Your Senior Cat

March 15, 2024

Noticing signs of aging in your beloved cat? While cats typically become seniors around age 11, many are defying expectations and living well into their teens or even twenties. These changes may manifest gradually rather than abruptly, but they still warrant special attention. Your senior feline friend will benefit from extra care and consideration during this stage of life. In this article, a nearby Metairie, LA veterinarian offers valuable advice on how to effectively care for your aging cat, ensuring her health and happiness as she enters her golden years.

Mastering Senior Cat Care: Best Practices and Tips

Much like any other cat, Fluffy requires good nutrition, a clean litter box, regular vet attention, and plenty of love. Yet, adjustments might be needed to meet her specific needs in her senior years.

Do Senior Cats Require Bigger Litter Boxes?

For your senior cat’s comfort, select a litter box with lower sides. Stiffness and soreness are common in older cats, making it hard for them to manage high-walled boxes. A wider and shallower option may provide her with greater accessibility and comfort compared to deeper, narrower designs.

Do Senior Cats Require Grooming?

As Fluffy transitions into her senior years, you may observe changes in her grooming habits, resulting in a less polished appearance. Age-related stiffness can impede her grooming efforts, leaving certain areas of her coat looking unkempt. Furthermore, senior cats may experience increased oil production in their skin, contributing to a greasier coat texture. These combined factors can lead to Fluffy’s slightly disheveled appearance as she ages, underscoring the significance of consistent grooming and attention in her senior stage of life.

Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge that messy fur could indicate potential health problems in your cat. If you’ve observed a decline in grooming habits or noticed other worrying signs like withdrawal, it’s advisable to seek guidance from your Metairie, LA veterinarian without delay.

Gently brushing your feline friend can be helpful. Although cats typically don’t require baths, some owners prefer bathing them. When grooming Fluffy, ensure gentle handling to avoid causing any discomfort. Given that senior pets have delicate skin, it’s important to be cautious. Consult your vet for personalized advice on grooming techniques.

Can I Play with My Senior Cat?

Playing with Fluffy is essential for her well-being. It’s not just fun; it’s beneficial too. Activities like pouncing and jumping provide excellent exercise for cats, which is vital for their health. Additionally, playtime offers mental stimulation, especially crucial for older cats facing cognitive decline. Engaging Fluffy in activities like chasing a laser pointer can help keep her mind sharp and active while also being adorable.

If Fluffy feels like playing, she’ll happily join in, but if she prefers relaxation, she’ll walk away, and that’s perfectly fine. Unlike dogs, cats won’t overexert themselves to please us. So, there’s no need to worry about Fluffy pushing herself too hard. Just let her lead the way and enjoy the time together, whether it’s playtime or relaxation.

For safety, opt for play areas with soft surfaces, such as carpeted floors.

Do Older Cats Require Special Care?

As Fluffy ages, her needs will alter somewhat. Ensuring easy access to food, water, and the litterbox becomes paramount. For larger homes or multiple floors, placing litterboxes and water stations on each level minimizes the need for your pet to climb stairs.

Setting up comfortable sleeping areas for your senior cat is crucial as she ages. You might be surprised to find that she’ll likely spend even more time sleeping than before, possibly snoozing up to 20 hours a day. To ensure her comfort and well-being, make sure she has plenty of cozy beds and resting spots throughout your home, allowing her to enjoy her golden years in comfort and relaxation. Providing comfortable sleeping spots for Fluffy offers various options. You can either purchase beds or craft them yourself. Alternatively, fold blankets and place them in baskets, chests, or ottomans. Fluffy will also appreciate cozying up in boxes. For added enjoyment, position these spots in sunny areas or near windows with picturesque views to earn bonus purrs.

Don’t forget to set up a night light for Fluffy. As she gets older, her vision might not be as sharp in the dark. Additionally, she could become a bit forgetful and struggle to find her way to the litterbox.

To aid your furry companion, consider setting up pet ramps or steps. Alternatively, footstools can serve the same purpose. For further details and recommendations, consult your veterinarian.

What Brings Joy to Senior Cats?

As cats age, their fondness for familiar comforts remains strong. Fluffy, like any cat, craves love, security, and coziness. Many of the suggestions we’ve covered already cater to these essential needs. It’s crucial to keep your cat mentally and physically engaged. Spend quality time bonding with her, providing affection and a comfortable lap to rest on. When handling her, always be gentle to ensure her comfort and well-being.

How to Ensure the Health of a Senior Cat

As cats grow older, they become prone to many of the same health issues that often afflict aging humans. Some of these include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Loss of Hearing
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Heart conditions
  • Loss of Vision
  • Dental Issues
  • Kidney Disease

Your furry friend might require more frequent trips to the vet clinic. These visits also offer an excellent opportunity to receive updated advice on Fluffy’s diet and care.

Between appointments, be vigilant for any signs of illness. If you notice anything unusual, please contact us promptly.

Ways to Determine If My Senior Cat Is Sick

Stay observant over changes in Fluffy’s behavior or appearance, as cats are adept at masking signs of illness. Early detection is key to addressing potential health issues promptly.

Here are some indicators to monitor:

  • Discharge
  • Drooling
  • Litterbox Issues
  • Vomiting
  • Hiding
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Gain/Loss
  • Poor Grooming
  • Stiffness
  • Withdrawal
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Limping

Pay attention to unexpected changes in vocalizations. If Fluffy, typically quiet, suddenly becomes vocal, it could be a cause for concern.

Why Are Older Cats Meowing More Frequently?

As cats grow older, they frequently become more vocal, and there are several potential explanations for this change. Cognitive decline is one possibility, leading to confusion and distress in senior cats. Fluffy might also desire more attention and affection or be expressing discomfort. For a deeper understanding and guidance on addressing this behavior, consult your Metairie, LA veterinarian, who can offer tailored advice to ensure Fluffy’s well-being.

Should I Leave My Senior Cat Alone?

Whether it’s advisable to leave Fluffy alone hinges on her age and health. Typically, most cats can manage being alone for a day or two, given they have essentials like food, water, and clean litter, and someone checks in on them. However, for older cats, especially geriatric ones, leaving them alone for over a day isn’t advisable. Boarding may be a preferable alternative.

Ensuring the Safety of My Senior Cat

Apply standard pet-proofing precautions to keep your older cat safe, just as you would for a younger feline. Even though Fluffy may not be as playful, she might still show interest in houseplants.

We highly recommend keeping your furry friend indoors for safety reasons. While we advocate for indoor living for all cats, older felines are especially vulnerable. Their fragility and decreased ability to escape threats increase the risk. Additionally, Fluffy may forget her way home, exacerbating the danger.

If you have inquiries about senior cat care, don’t hesitate to reach out to us, at Clearview Veterinary Hospital.