How to Care for Older Cats
When to call a cat “elderly” is a matter of debate but, generally, older cats than twelve years qualify from a medical perspective. Proper health care and a loving home are two factors that contribute to the long life span of most house cats.
The attention you give your cat throughout its life should not stop once the cat has become old. In fact, this care should actually increase.
Feeding Your Older Cat
Older cats have nutritional needs that differ from those of younger cats. Since cats age at different rates, you should familiarize yourself with your cat’s behavioral and eating changes.
When cats age they frequently become thinner and their appetite often decreases. Elderly felines have special dietary needs that you should consider when preparing their meals. As with other cats, always check with your veterinarian for mealtime tips and diet plans.
To provide your elderly feline with the best possible nutrition, search for a high-quality ration with high digestibility. Pay attention to kibble size and appropriate fat and protein levels. Offer your cat small amounts of food two to three times daily.
Older CatAvoid poor quality, generic foods. Make sure your diet of choice contains quality ingredients and is fresh. Low price brands may reflect lower quality ingredients or less rigorous manufacturing standards. Look for cat food produced by companies that perform research, conduct controlled feeding trials, and follow good manufacturing procedures and quality control.
The following tips should help you better prepare foods for your aging feline.
Provide a high quality, highly digestible diet.
Provide fresh water to prevent dehydration.
Pay special attention to your cat’s ability to chew her food as dental problems often accompany old age.
Common Ailments of Older Cats
Elderly cats suffer from various health problems. Regular health exams can identify potential problems before they become serious. Establish a relationship with your veterinarian so he or she is familiar with your cat’s history, and take your cat in for an annual check-up.
You might notice increased thirst and weight loss. Kidney function is usually lost gradually over time and then appears as a “sudden” illness. See your veterinarian for treatment.
To prevent tooth loss and decay, clean your cat’s teeth on a regular basis. For a fee, your veterinarian can deep clean your cat’s teeth.
Like people, cats can suffer from a variety of problems such as diabetes and thyroid disorders. Don’t assume that changes in behavior are the result of aging. Your cat may be uncomfortable or in pain.
If your elderly cat has begun to resent the presence of children or younger pets, have a safe haven where she can rest comfortably. Postpone any purchase or adoption of new pets. Making new friends isn’t usually high on an elderly cat’s list of priorities.