How to Care for a Senior Cat

If your feline friend has been in your family for quite a few years, you are probably very clued up on what she enjoys, what she doesn’t like and the best ways in which to care for her. However, as our pets advance in years, the type of care that they need often changes. As responsible and loving owners, we undoubtedly want to ensure that we are always providing the very best for our pets throughout their lives, including when they enter their senior years.

Here is our guide to how to care for your senior cat and help her to enjoy her golden years with you and your family.

What happens as my cat gets older?

To provide the best possible care for your senior cat, it is important to understand what changes occur during the aging process. These include, but are not limited to:
- Decreased hearing/vision
- Appetite and/or fluid intake changes
- Activity levels decrease
- More periods of light sleep, less deep sleep
- Loss of muscle tone due to decreased exercise
- Weakened immune system
- Bowel and urinary system functions may change
- Coat condition may deteriorate
- Age-related medical conditions such as arthritis and diabetes may develop
- Behavioral changes including aggression, dependence or excessive vocalization may occur

Visiting your veterinarian

Many owners are fearful of taking a senior pet for check-ups with their veterinarian, as they worry that something serious may be found. However, your vet is the best person to be able to spot potential problems early while they can still be successfully treated.

As such, cats often need to attend more regular check-ups as they get older. In fact, some veterinarians even offer clinics specifically for senior pets. Some of the common things that you can expect your vet to check will be the weight of your pet, the condition of their coat and that they are up to date with all of their booster vaccinations, as cat’s immune systems become less efficient with age.

Dietary changes

The nutrition that your feline friend needs will also likely change as they get older. Your pet is likely to only be able to manage smaller meals, so you should serve these more often. There are some brands of cat food that are specifically formulated to suit the nutritional needs of senior cats. You should also make sure that plenty of water is available at multiple locations around your home, particularly if your cat is not prone to moving far.

Older cat’s appetites can fluctuate, but any significant changes in either their eating or drinking habits should be reported to your veterinarian as soon as possible so that they can investigate the cause.

Grooming changes

Cats are normally fastidious about keeping themselves clean, but advancing age can also make it more difficult for your cat to effectively groom herself. You may need to help by brushing her coat gently with a soft brush at least once each day. Also keep a close eye on her nails, as without regular exercise they can quickly become too long, even curling back in on to themselves.

When to visit your veterinarian

Knowing when to visit your vet is vital for getting your feline friend the professional care that they need when they need it most. You should arrange an appointment with your vet if your cat:
- shows significant change in their eating or drinking habits
- has smelly breath
- has lost or is losing weight
- is having problems moving around
- has become suddenly much less active
- is having trouble passing urine or feces
- seems disorientated or confused
- has unusual lumps or bumps, particularly if they are increasing in size

Further advice on caring for a senior cat can be obtained from contacting The Little Cat Clinic Veterinary Clinic. Together you can ensure that your older cat lives out the remainder of her life happy and comfortable.