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Caring for Senior Cats

Caring for Senior Cats
April 16, 2023

Advances in veterinary medicine mean cats are living longer, healthier lives—great news for cat parents who will get more time to spend with their meowvelous furry family members. Just as your cat required special care in their kitten years, their needs change as they enter their senior years. Whether your cat has been a lifelong companion or you’ve recently adopted a senior cat, we’ve put together a few tips on how to best care for your cat as they age.

Routine Veterinary Care

As cats grow older, they are more at risk for health problems including:

  • Dental disease
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Hearing and vision loss
  • Anxiety
  • Senility

The best way to stay ahead of any health complications in your cat is through regular wellness visits with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to help detect health issues in the early stages when they’re easier to treat and allows them to stay on top of existing health issues. With regular visits, your veterinarian will be able to recommend changes in your cat's care as needed. It is typically recommended that senior cats have an exam every six months to tend to any health issues.

Nutrition
As your cat ages, they may require dietary changes as a result of decreased activity levels or a need for food that is easier to digest. Speak with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your senior pet.

Exercise & Mental Stimulation
Senior cats need exercise to help maintain a healthy weight, muscle mass, and to keep them from getting bored. If your cat is resistant to regular exercise, talk to your veterinarian about options such as physical therapy. 

Along with exercise, your senior cat needs mental stimulation to stay sharp. Try teaching them a new trick or providing puzzle toys! If your cat doesn’t seem interested in playing with their toys, add some catnip to entice them.

Senior Cat Proofing
It’s important to look around your home to see if there are changes that can be made to make your senior cat’s day-to-day a little easier, especially if your cat has mobility, vision, or hearing issues. Changes to consider include:

  • Set up a pet ramp so your cat can easily access their favorite spots. Make sure the ramp is sturdy to avoid any potential accidents or injuries.
     
  • If your cat has difficulties with stairs, keep essential items such as food, water bowls, and litterboxes accessible on the main floor of your home.
     
  • If your senior cat is having difficulties getting in and out of their litterbox, consider switching to a litterbox with a lower front lip. 
     
  • If your cat has difficulty seeing in the dark, set up extra light for nighttime and in darkened stairways to help your cat move around the house.

Medication
Many senior pets have medications to help keep any health issues at bay and allow them to live a more comfortable life. For example, the first FDA-approved medication to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis in cats is now available! Talk to your veterinarian about medications that may be available to help your cat in their daily life. 

If you have any questions about caring for your senior pet or would like to schedule a wellness exam, give The Cat Doctor a call at (207) 874-2287 today!