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Keeping A Senior Cat Happy

April 1, 2024

Is your feline pal officially a furry, meowing senior? Fluffy is super cute at every stage of her life. While it’s hard to beat that adorable kitten phase, senior cats are also very lovable and charming. By the time your feline pal reaches her golden years, she’ll probably have stopped some of her habits, and will spend the majority of her time sleeping. Of course, she will still need good TLC. A local Guelph, ON vet offers some advice on keeping a senior cat happy in this article. 

How Do I Care For An Older Cat? 

For the most part, Fluffy will have the same care needs as any other kitty. 

Diet: Good kitty care starts with good food. You’ll want to talk to your vet about your kitty’s diet, and get some tips about when and how to change over to a senior-formula food. Be careful with portion sizes! Overfeeding your pet even by a little bit can cause her to gain extra weight. 

Grooming: Our feline pals are pretty good about keeping themselves clean. However, this gets harder for them as they get older. Fluffy will find it increasingly difficult to bend and stretch enough to reach her whole body. Help her out by gently brushing her. This will get the dead fur and dander out of her coat, which will keep her more comfortable and protect her from heat and cold. 

Safety: Older cats aren’t as strong or lithe as their younger counterparts. While we recommend keeping all kitties indoors, this goes double for seniors, as they may not be fast enough to run up a tree or get out of the way of an oncoming car. Plus, older kitties sometimes get confused and forgetful. Fluffy could lose track of her whereabouts, and not be able to find her way home! 

How Do I Make An Older Kitty Comfortable?

Just like people, older cats often get quite stiff and sore. This can make it hard for Fluffy to jump and climb. She may also have trouble reaching her favorite napping spots. One thing that will help your furry senior out is to get footstools or pet ramps or stairs. 

Fluffy will also appreciate having a variety of napping spots. She won’t mind snoozing on your bed or couch, but it would also be good for her to have some beds of her own.

We’d also recommend giving your furry pal a comfy window seat with a good view. Cats love watching birds and squirrels! 

Why Does My Senior Cat Seem Sad?

There’s no universal answer to this one. Kitties are very emotional, and they are also quite unique. For example, if Fluffy has recently changed owners, she may be missing her former family. If that is the case, your pet may very well be sad. 

It’s also possible that Fluffy isn’t sad at all, but just less energetic and frisky than she once was. This is quite normal for older cats: we all slow down over time. However, if your pet seems distinctly morose, sullen, or grumpy, that may be an indication of a medical issue. Contact your vet right away. 

How Do I Know If My Senior Cat Is Happy?

To be fair, cats can be a bit purrplexing. After all, Fluffy is the only one of our animal pals that likes to bite us just for fun. Many kitties remain playful and frisky well into their golden years. If Fluffy is interactive, alert, and responsive, it’s a good sign. If your pet likes to let her inner kitten out, then she’s probably feeling pretty chipper. Affectionate purrs and cuddles are also positive signs.

Another sign of a happy cat would be if your feline pal generally seems relaxed and even a bit bossy. 

How Do You Keep An Elderly Cat Entertained?

Fluffy will probably have outgrown her desire for whacking toys around in the middle of the night, and she won’t get as excited to find a moth in the kitchen as she once did. However, she’ll still enjoy and benefit from playing. 

Hold a laser pointer or feather toy for your furry pal to pounce on. This will not only help keep your pet strong and fit, it also offers mental stimulation. That’s very important! Just like people, cats can suffer from cognitive decay.  

Don’t worry about overdoing it: even a few minutes a day will be beneficial. If your kitty gets tired, she’ll just walk away and take yet another nap. 

How Do I Make My Home Comfy For My Senior Cat?

There are a few things you can do. We’ve already mentioned beds, but it’s worth repeating. As far as kitties are concerned, you can never have too many napping spots. Another thing we would recommend would be to get Fluffy a litterbox with low sides. These are often easier for cats to manage than regular ones.

You may also want to set out extra water stations and litter boxes, and perhaps put out a nightlight for your furry pal to help her get around after dark. 

Your feline friend will also appreciate a comfy window seat, preferably one with a good view. 

How Do I Know If My Elderly Cat Is Healthy?

Your vet should be the ultimate authority on this. 

As your pet ages, you’ll need to keep a close eye out for signs of sickness. Just like people, older cats are at higher risk of developing certain diseases. 

Some of the things to watch for include the following:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Different sleep patterns
  • Vision Loss
  • Decreased mobility
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Increased thirst
  • Appetite Changes
  • Litterbox Woes
  • Lethargy
  • Withdrawal 
  • Uncharacteristic grumpiness
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble eating
  • Disorientation
  • Excessive grooming
  • Increased vocalization
  • Low activity levels
  • Unkempt coat

If you notice any of these, contact your vet right away. Cats try to mask signs of illness, so you may not notice anything is wrong until your pet is quite ill! 

If and when Fluffy is diagnosed with something specific, then you’ll be able to get more precise information from your vet about what to look for. 

Why Does My 17-Year-Old Cat Keep Meowing?

It’s not uncommon for older cats to get rather vocal. There are a few possible reasons for this. There’s a chance that your pet could be reacting to pain, so be sure to have her examined by your vet. This is especially important if it’s something that you’ve just noticed. 

There’s also a chance that your kitty is feeling scared or confused. Fluffy will notice changes as she ages, and may be distressed by them. She may also just want to be comforted more. Pay lots of attention to her, and don’t skimp on those cuddle requests! Just be very gentle, especially when picking your pet up or putting her down.

What Age Is Old For A Cat?

The average kitty lifespan is 12 to 18 years. Of course, 15 or 16 is definitely a pretty ripe old age for Fluffy. At this point, your pet would be considered geriatric. However, don’t focus too much on the numbers. It’s not uncommon for cats to live well into their late teens or even early twenties these days. Your feline pal may still have years worth of pounces and purrs ahead of her. 

Do you have questions about senior cat care? Please do not hesitate to contact us. As your local Guelph, ON animal clinic, we are here to help! 

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