Senior cat care (age 9 to 13 years)
Senior Cats Are More Prone to Illness
Just like humans, as cats age, they become more prone to major illnesses. Click here for a chart of some of the leading serious illnesses that can affect your senior cat along with what to watch for for early detection.
Once your cat reaches age 9, you may start to see signs of your kitty slowing down. But your cat can still live many more happy and healthy years with the right preventive care.
During this time, be even more diligent and make sure that you:
Encourage more fluid intake.
Getting your cat to drink more helps decease the work load on your cat’s kidneys and prevents dehydration and constipation. Encourage greater fluid intake by placing extra water bowls around your home. Some cats prefer to drink running water, so a cat water fountain might make drinking more attractive. Also add a little water to canned food.
Place litter boxes in easily accessible areas.
Arthritis in senior cats can make it difficult and painful to climb or descend stairs. Place litter boxes on the main floor of the house or where your cat spends most of his/her time. Provide adequate amounts of litter and scoop at least daily. Consider litter boxes with low sides to make getting in and out easier.
Normal stools should be long, connected and easily compressible. Watch for small balls of hard stool. Many senior cats need stool softeners; talk to your veterinarian.
It’s common for older cats to develop some degree of arthritis. While arthritis cannot be cured, cats can be made more comfortable with supplements, to support cartilage and joints, and pain medication. Also consider placing ramps against chairs and beds, and offer heated beds to ease the cat's discomfort. Your cat might have arthritis if he or she:
Appears stiff when walking
Hesitates to jump up or down
Assumes a posture or sleep position different than normal
Constantly seeks warmth
Resists or reacts to petting or grooming in areas such as the hips
Help with grooming.
Arthritis can make grooming difficult and painful. Hard-to-reach places such as the rump can quickly become matted or dirty, causing constant discomfort, as well as skin problems and urinary tract infections. You may notice dandruff or flaking on your cat's coat if he/she isn't grooming well, and buildup of dense undercoat, even in shorthaired cats, can become uncomfortable. Regularly comb or brush your cat to remove thick undercoat and top coat while being mindful of potentially painful, arthritic areas such as the hips. Avoid trimming or cutting out mats since it’s easy to accidentally snip your cat's skin; leave this to professionals. Electric trimmers work well for trimming long hair on the back of the legs which can collect stool and debris.
Place nightlights through the house.
Just like people, senior cats lose their eyesight (and hearing) as they age. It may become difficult for older cats to navigate at night for food, water and litter boxes. Strategically place nightlights to help your your cat navigate.
First of all, congratulations! We are so glad to see that your kitty is still going strong beyond his or her senior years. More cats are living 20 years and more, and it’s due to a good diet, regular exercise and regular preventive care. Your kitty has you to thank!
Continue to follow the same guidelines for senior cat health into your cat’s geriatric years. (See above.)
Today, many diseases – such as kidney disease, diabetes, pancreatitis and heart disease – can be easily managed in cats of any age. If your cat has been diagnosed with one of these, find about about chronic condition care.