Just like humans, cats slow down a bit as they get older and changes in appetite and behaviour should not be confused with changes in personality, which can be indicators of illness. So, if you have concerns in between regular checks, do get in touch as early diagnosis of issues will lead to a better quality of life.
Many have always believed that cats enter their senior years at 7 or 8, however, in 2018 the International Cat Care charity published this advice:
“Cats are living much longer now than was the case 20 years ago, thanks to better nutrition, veterinary and home care. In recent years, feline ages and life-stages have been redefined, cats are considered to be elderly once they reach 11 years with senior cats defined as those aged between 11-14 years and super-senior (or geriatric) cats 15 years and upwards. The formula for calculating the equivalent age is fairly simple:
the first two years of a cat’s life equate to 24 human years and every year thereafter is equivalent to 4 human years. For example, a 16-year-old cat would be equivalent to an 80-year-old human.”
This month, we’re offering a little advice for the care of ageing cats. In our first article, we’ve produced a handy ‘Senior Cat Checklist’ that you can download, print, and check back on in-between visits to the surgery.
Things you’ll notice as your cat ages:
- Their coat can lose its silky soft shine and grey hairs may start appearing.
- Their memory, sight, and hearing may deteriorate.
- They may sleep more in the day and become more active at night.
Harder things to spot include the fact their bones can become weaker, the immune system less effective, and their internal organs deteriorate. The good news is that there is quite a bit we can do to reduce the effects of ageing, which means that most elderly cats are able to live healthy and happy lives.
Your older cat to-do list:
- Protection – Remember that, no matter how old your cat is, they will still require regular vaccinations, and flea & worming treatments to help protect them against harmful and life-threatening parasites and diseases.
- Activity – Keep your cat mentally young by keeping them active! Regularly hide toys around the house and challenge your cat to find them. Spend time with your cat each day to play with them and stimulate their mind.
- Toileting – Your cat may prefer to toilet inside, where they feel safer. If you notice a change, get an indoor litter tray with low sides for easy access.
- Weigh-ins – Weigh your cat at least every couple of months. Keep a careful record and call us if you find anything you weren’t expecting.
- Body shape – Like humans, oversized cats are prone to diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease. Ask Chrissie or any of our nurses to show you how to perform and record a ‘body condition check’.
- Diet – There are a number of diets that are specially formulated for senior cats. These contain proteins, carbohydrates, and fatty & amino acids that are aimed at keeping older cats healthy and happy. Learn how to manage your cat’s weight through diet and exercise.
- Grooming – If your cat’s fur is starting to look a little matted then you should bring them in for a check-up. Matting may indicate a condition that can prevent your cat from grooming, which is essential for good health.
- Claws – Regularly check those claws. Reduced activity in older cats can cause claws to become overgrown, curl around, and grow into the paws. Pop in and ask us if you’re unsure.
- Teeth & gums – Not many cats will allow you to clean their teeth regularly, but it’s always worth a try as poor dental health will affect your senior cat’s general wellbeing. Learn more.
Don’t forget, if you have any questions about senior cat care, we’re always here to help. Get in touch.