Caring for Senior Cats

Written by: Karuna Subbiah



Time to read 5 min

Senior cats, also known as geriatric cats, are considered old over the age of 10 years. It is important to provide senior cats with proper care and attention to ensure their health and happiness in their golden years. 

Providing senior cats with a comfortable and supportive bed can help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with health problems in aging cats. Caring for a senior cat requires attention to their unique needs and health concerns. Providing senior cats with proper nutrition, medical care, and mental stimulation can help ensure they live happy and healthy lives in their golden years.

Signs of ageing in cats

Senior cats typically experience a range of physical and behavioural changes as they age. Average age of cats can be around 15 years old, so cats over the age of 10 are considered to be seniors. It is important for cat owners to be aware of the signs of aging in cats to ensure their pets receive the proper care and attention they need in their golden years.

One common sign of aging in cats is decreased mobility. They may also become less active and spend more time sleeping. Additionally, changes in appetite or litter box habits can be signs of aging. Old cats may lose their appetite or become pickier eaters, and they may also have difficulty getting in and out of their litter boxes.

Another sign of aging in cats is an increased susceptibility to illness. It is important for cat owners to monitor their senior cats closely and take them to the veterinarian for regular check-ups to catch any health problems early on.

Changes to diet and nutrition for Senior Cats

As cats age, their nutritional needs change, and it is important for owners to adjust their diets accordingly. Adult cat age is typically around 1-7 years old, but as cats approach their senior years (around 10 years old), they may require different nutrients and a specialized diet.

One of the most important changes in the nutritional needs of senior cats is a decrease in caloric intake. As cats become less active and their metabolism slows down, they require fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. This means that owners should switch to a prescription diet that is lower in calories and fat.

Senior cat food should also contain higher levels of certain nutrients, such as protein, fibre, and antioxidants, to support the aging body. Protein is important for maintaining muscle mass, while fibre can help with digestion and maintaining a healthy weight. When choosing a senior cat food, owners should look for brands that are specifically formulated for older cats and contain high-quality ingredients.

Cat owners should also ensure their senior cats have access to fresh water at all times. Dehydration is a common issue in older cats, and providing clean, fresh water can help prevent urinary tract infections and other health problems.

Environmental Adaptations For Senior Cats

As cats age, they may experience physical and cognitive changes that can make it more difficult for them to navigate their environment. To help senior cats live comfortably and safely, owners can make some simple environmental adaptations to their homes.

Adding soft bedding can also be beneficial for older cats, as it provides a comfortable place to rest that is easy on their joints. Another environmental adaptation for senior cats is placing the litter box in a more accessible location, such as on the ground floor or in a more easily accessible area, which can make it easier for senior cats to use the litter box without discomfort.

In addition to these physical adaptations, there are also cognitive adaptations that can benefit senior cats. For example, older cats may become disoriented or confused more easily, and may benefit from having a familiar scent or sound in their environment. Placing familiar objects, such as their favourite bed or toys, in strategic locations around the home can help senior cats feel more secure and comfortable.

Exercise and play for Senior Cats

As cats age, they may become less active than their younger counterparts. However, regular exercise and play are still important for the health and well-being of senior cats. Exercise can help keep senior cats physically fit, maintain a healthy weight, and improve their mental and emotional health.

To engage senior cats, incorporate gentle play sessions into their daily routine. Playing with toys, such as soft balls or crinkly toys, can help senior cats maintain their agility and coordination. Another way to encourage exercise in senior cats is through low-impact activities, such as gentle stretching or short walks. 

In addition to exercise and play, senior cats also benefit from mental stimulation and enrichment. This can include providing opportunities for exploration, such as creating a cat-friendly environment with hiding places and scratching posts, and engaging in regular grooming and affectionate touch.

Senior cat behaviour

As cats age, they may experience changes in behaviour that can be both surprising and concerning for their owners. Understanding these changes and how to manage them can help ensure that senior cats are comfortable and happy in their later years.

One common change in senior cat behaviour is increased vocalization. This can include meowing or yowling more frequently or loudly than usual. This may be due to hearing loss or cognitive changes that can cause confusion or anxiety. Owners should provide their senior cats with a calm and comfortable environment and offer reassurance and affection when their cat is vocalizing.

Changes in sleeping patterns are also common in senior cats. They may sleep more or have difficulty sleeping through the night. Owners can help their senior cats get better sleep by providing a comfortable bed in a quiet and warm location, and minimizing disruptions during their sleeping hours.

Reduced interest in grooming is another common behaviour change in senior cats. This may be due to other mobility issues that make grooming uncomfortable or difficult. Owners can help their senior cats by brushing them regularly, providing easy access to grooming tools, and scheduling regular veterinary check-ups to address any underlying health issues.

Other behaviour changes in senior cats may include increased aggression, confusion or disorientation, or reduced appetite. These changes may be indicative of underlying health issues, and owners should consult a veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

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