There are many changes to a cat's behavior, physiology, and vulnerability to diseases as they age. Physical changes include the lower capacity to smell and taste food, reduced ability to digest protein and fat, reduced hearing, reduced immune function, skin elasticity, and tolerance to stress.
Adjustments to your elderly cat's nourishment and routine can help them prosper past the age of twelve while dealing with decreased cognitive and physical functions.
As cats age, their behavior frequently changes as a direct outcome of the physical changes happening in their body. The senior cat adapts progressively to these changes, so it might not be apparent unless you are particularly looking for signs of aging. Older felines hunt less, spend less time outside, are typically less active, and sleep longer. They can have a lower appetite or become picky, be less eager to play or groom, and be more vocal. They additionally tend to become extra insecure and, therefore, potentially be more dependent on you.
Other behavioral changes can be viewed as a direct result of disease, for example, increased thirst or hunger or aggression connected with discomfort.
Home Care For Your Elderly Cat
This is the time when your cat requires crucial care. As cats age, they will find it harder and harder to keep themselves clean. Observing your cat regularly will enable you to find problems that must be tackled instantly.
For example, check your feline's nails weekly. Elderly cats cannot retract their claws as much and may get caught in furniture and carpets, and they can likewise overgrow and puncture their paw pads. Regular cutting will be needed, and with the best recommendations and training from your veterinarian, it might be easy for you to do this routine task and consequently prevent the need for a potentially costly trip for a surgical procedure.
Your old cat cannot groom efficiently, so you should be there to wipe away any discharge around the eyes, nose, or even the anus using separate pieces of cotton moistened in warm water per area. You may also need to clean your cat using a soft brush and fine comb.
Care is needed to ensure you are gentle, as older cats tend to be thin with really little cushioning over their bones, so vigorous combing can hurt. At this time, you can also look for swellings, bumps, sores, or anything else that benefits the attention of a veterinarian. Brushing shorthaired felines only needs to be completely thorough if there is any matting. This can usually happen on the lower part of the spine and hindquarters as your cat might be less flexible and, for that reason, incapable of getting to these areas to self-groom.
If your cat is longhaired and has difficulties keeping itself tidy, it may be helpful to trim the coat around its rectum, the ends of the tail, and back legs to prevent soiling or matting. If you find any matting, they should be teased out instead of cutting with scissors as this can quickly nick the skin. In case of severe matting, consult your veterinarian, as it can be uncomfortable for your cat.
Hairballs are a common issue in older felines, and they commonly have a slow metabolism, and hair ingested through grooming may cause chronic vomiting or irregular bowel movements. Specialty supplements or specific foods can help with hairballs if this becomes an issue for your elderly cat.
If your senior cat has access outdoors, it is wise to give an inside toilet as there will come a time when your feline will not want a bathroom in chilly, moist areas outside. If you provide a litter box, you then have the chance to check your feline's urine and stool for blood, changes in consistency, or various other indications of disease.
Old teeth and mouths can create trouble, so inspect your cat routinely for indications of any growth, reddening of the gums, or evidence of dental disease. Bad breath (bad breath), drooling, a 'chattering' jaw, and pawing at the mouth may all be indicators of dental condition; if unsure, consult your vet.
Your senior cat may have fewer cravings as it gets older due to the reduced ability to smell and taste food. There are different ways that you can encourage appetite:
- Offer food more frequently and in smaller amounts, for example, 4 to 6 dishes per day, and find a peaceful location to ensure that activitiessounds and don't sidetrack your cat. Experiment with unfamiliar food to tempt the appetite.
- Take into consideration the type of bowl you use to give food: your cat may prefer a wide and shallow bowl or one with a rim, as an example.
- Give food at room temperature level, delicately warming food to just below body temperature level can increase palatability.
- Try out the uniformity of the food offered. Some senior cats, especially those with dental problems, prefer soft food to lumps or completely dry food. You might try including some portions of water in the food and mashing with a fork.
- Elevate the food bowl onto a box, for instance, as this might be a more comfortable position for a cat with osteoarthritis affecting the neck.
- Avoid leaving leftover damp food out for more than an hour, and do not be tempted to leave different foods out as this can be overwhelming to your senior cat.
- Resting with your cat while talking and brushing can enhance appetite; you may also want hand feeding.
Senior felines are much more vulnerable to becoming dehydrated, especially if experiencing medical problems such as persistent kidney conditions, so constantly make sure that a variety of water bowls are available at inaccessible home locations far from common areas where food is consumed. You might need to experiment with the kind of containers, such as ceramic bowls, glass, or fountain, and the type of water, such as tap water, boiled water, filtered, springtime, etc. It might even be valuable to add some water to your elderly cat's wet food. Like food bowls, water might be more appetizing to the older cat if you put it off the ground.
Holidays and parties
Suppose your cat has constantly gone into a cattery on vacation; there is no specific reason to change the routine. Nonetheless, older felines don't deal particularly well with adjustments to their routines, so there may come a time when your kitty may like to be at with somebody staying over to provide the essential treatment. Preferably, the cat-sitter needs to be someone your cat knows and trusts.
Older felines tend to be distressed by the noise of events and festivities at home. Find your cat a safe and quiet location to pull away into, where it has everything it needs while parties are taking place in different parts of your home.
Regular health checks
Your vet will undoubtedly encourage regular medical examinations that would best suit your cat, considering its age and health. Although your cat will be frequently examined, it should not stop you from being a bit extra attentive at home to detect the first indicators of potential issues. There is a variety of general indications that is good to tell your veterinarian, specifically:
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden changes in weight
- Changes in the number of liquids consumed each day
- Rigidity, lameness, or trouble standing up
- Lumps or bumps anywhere on the body
- Balance problems
- Bathroom mishaps or trouble passing pee or feces
- Disorientation or distress
- Uncharacteristic practices, such as hiding, hostility, and excessive vocalization
Appreciate Your Unique Bond
Taking care of your elderly cat can be among the most fulfilling experiences you will ever have. Continue to provide physical and psychological care by stroking, playing, as well as connecting with your cat in your unique ways.
Our elderly cats rely on us. Aging cats commonly long for more attention than they did previously, and spending more time together will ensure you both get one of the most out of your feline's elderly years.