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Senior Cat Care Tips
February 1, 2023

Did you know that kitties can become seniors at just nine years? Fluffy may live well into her teens or even her twenties, so she’ll still have a long, relaxing retirement. However, as your pet ages, she’ll go through changes, just as we do in our golden years. You’ll want to pay some extra attention to your furry buddy as she ages. A Las Vegas, NV vet offers some advice on this below.

Playing

Playing is just as beneficial for kitties as it is for us. Take a few minutes a day to hold a laser pointer or remote-controlled toy for your feline buddy. Chasing her ‘prey’ will not only provide Fluffy with a great workout, it’s also great for her mind!

Naps

You’ve probably noticed that Fluffy is very, very tired. Senior cats are even sleepier than other kitties, perhaps because they’ve had so much napping practice. Make sure your furry friend has lots of comfy beds to curl up in. These should be easy for your furball to get in and out of.

Veterinary Care

Fluffy will benefit from going to the vet more often. Just like people, kitties’ risk of developing certain health conditions goes up over time. You’ll also need to be on the lookout for signs of trouble, such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain or loss, changes in appetite, withdrawal, respiratory trouble, fever, and/or lethargy.

Safety

We recommend keeping all cats indoors, but this goes double for senior ones. For one thing, Fluffy may be quite forgetful, which increases the risk of her getting lost. She also may not be able to see or hear as well as a younger kitty, which could mean she may have trouble detecting and/or evading certain threats. Keep your feline pal safe and sound indoors.

Brushing

Older cats sometimes have a hard time grooming their entire bodies. Brush your furry pal regularly to keep her fur soft and smooth.

Comforts

Our feline friends are usually pretty good at keeping themselves comfortable. However, you can help your kitty out a bit. In summer, make sure Fluffy always has access to rooms cooled by climate control. Offer some pieces of furniture that are close to the ground, and a litterbox with low sides. Lap space also counts, of course.

Our Advice on Senior Cat Care in 2024

How often should senior cats have veterinary check-ups?

Senior cats should have veterinary check-ups at least twice a year. As cats age, they become more susceptible to various health issues such as kidney disease, thyroid problems, and arthritis, which can develop rapidly. Regular bi-annual exams allow for early detection and management of such conditions. These visits should include a complete physical examination, and depending on the cat’s health, may also involve blood tests, urine analysis, and other diagnostic procedures to assess overall health and adjust care plans as necessary.

What are the most common health issues that affect senior cats, and what are their early signs?

Senior cats commonly face several health issues as they age. Kidney disease may manifest as increased thirst and urination, or weight loss. Hyperthyroidism often causes weight loss despite a good appetite. Diabetes can present with increased thirst and urination, similar to kidney disease. Arthritis leads to decreased activity, stiffness, and difficulty jumping. Dental disease is prevalent, indicated by bad breath and difficulty eating. Early detection of these signs is crucial, as timely veterinary intervention can manage these conditions and improve quality of life.

How can owners modify their home environment to make it more accessible and comfortable for senior cats?

To enhance accessibility and comfort for senior cats, owners can make several modifications to their home environment. Providing easy-to-access resting areas without the need to jump or climb is crucial. Pet stairs or ramps to favorite spots like a bed or couch can help. Using litter boxes with low sides facilitates easier entry and exit. Ensuring that the home is warm and draft-free, especially in cooler months, supports joint health. Soft bedding in multiple locations can offer comfort for resting and reduce pressure on aging joints.

What are the cognitive changes that senior cats may experience, and how can owners support their mental health?

Senior cats may experience cognitive changes similar to dementia in humans, known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). Signs include disorientation, altered sleep-wake cycles, reduced interaction, and changes in litter box habits. To support their mental health, owners can stimulate their minds through interactive toys, puzzles, and regular playtime to keep them engaged. Maintaining a routine and a calm environment helps minimize stress and confusion. Regular veterinary check-ups can also monitor cognitive health and address any behavioral changes with appropriate strategies or medications.

How does a senior cat’s sleep pattern typically change?

Senior cats often experience changes in their sleep patterns, typically sleeping more than younger cats. They may have more fragmented sleep, waking up more frequently during the night, and might be more restless or vocal. This increase in sleep and changes in behavior can be due to various factors, including discomfort from arthritis, cognitive dysfunction, or other age-related health issues. Providing a comfortable, quiet sleeping area and maintaining a consistent routine can help support better sleep patterns for senior cats. Regular veterinary check-ups can also identify and address underlying health concerns affecting sleep.

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