As the companion who cares for your cat every day, there’s much that you can do to keep your cat healthy and happy. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on making the most of your cat’s senior years including understanding the common signs of aging, deciding what to feed your cat, and looking for signs of common age-related diseases.
What are the stages of a senior cats life? How to spot signs of ageing?
Like people or dogs, some cats age faster than others. Cats can be placed into one of three groups: mature/middle-aged (7-10 years of age), senior (11-14 years of age) and geriatric (15+ years of age). Any significant change in behaviour that you notice, whether acute in onset or gradual, warrants a trip to the veterinarian. Some common signs of aging in cats include:
- changes to the senses (vision, hearing, taste and smell)
- decreased mobility
- changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- modifications in litter box habits
My senior cat is losing weight, what can I do?
Weight loss can be a very serious clinical sign in senior cats. When you notice that your cat has been losing weight please make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. You will want to have kept track of appetite (how much food your cat is eating and how frequently), how much water is being consumed, litter box habits, and any vomiting or diarrhea episodes. Your veterinarian will collect a thorough history from you, complete a physical examination and likely recommend blood work and a urinalysis.
How can I care for my senior cat?
There are many practical things a pet owner can do for their aging cat:
- schedule regular veterinary examinations
- ensure your cat’s favourite resting spot is not in a drafty area of the house
- provide easy access to basic needs (e.g. avoid putting litter boxes down many flights of stairs or keeping litter boxes wide and shallow)
- provide jumps/stools to allow your pet to reach favourite perches easily
- brush/groom frequently but gently
- minimize stress and changes
- provide a high quality and appropriate diet
What are some common health issues?
Some common health problems in senior cats include kidney disease, an overactive thyroid gland, diabetes, arthritis, dental disease and cancer.