It’s probably no surprise that the needs of an aging cat are different than those of a young kitten. But what exactly do aging cats need, and how can you care for them well during their senior years?
First, let’s clarify what we mean by an “aging cat.” Older cats fall into three main categories: mature (7-10 years), senior (11-14 years), and geriatric (15+ years). Here are a few keys to consider when caring for your aging cat:
- Schedule regular visits to the veterinarian. Once a year at a minimum, and ideally twice a year. Do not assume all changes in your cat’s behavior and activity level are simply natural signs of aging. Many diseases are hidden and not apparent. Prevention is less expensive than treatment!
- Feed your cat a diet with adequate protein levels. Learn to read pet food labels and be sure to choose food appropriate for your cat’s age and lifestyle. Be sure you feed your cat the proper amount to maintain a healthy body weight. Ask your veterinarian for guidance on how to evaluate your cat’s body condition (overweight / underweight) at home.
- Consider fortifying your senior cat’s diet with fatty acids. In one study, roughly 90% of cats over the age of 12 were noted to have radiographic evidence of arthritis. Fatty acids have been shown to be helpful in cats with mobility issues due to arthritis or other joint diseases. Investing in a high quality joint supplement can go a long way in preserving and even recovering your senior cat’s comfort and joint mobility.
- Maintain your cat’s dental health. Neglected teeth and gums can lead to severe mouth pain and even infections in other organs. Consult with your veterinarian about the best at-home dental cleaning options, as well as the recommended frequency of in-office dental cleanings.
- Don’t forget the “little things.” While diet and medical concerns can feel all-consuming, don’t forget the little things for your aging cat: a comfortable bed; easy access to food, water, and litter box; and the needed social enrichment of playing and interacting with you.
While caring for your aging cat, if you notice him having difficulty going up and down stairs, having trouble jumping up and down from his favorite perches, limping or walking more slowly, he may have arthritis or joint damage. Our natural joint treatment for cats includes anti-inflammatory and joint-building properties - you can find it here. We would love to be part of helping your cats - and you - make the most of their golden years with you.
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