Doesn’t it feel like only yesterday when your beloved cat was just a tiny kitten? Nowadays, you notice your precious puss just napping and lounging around or wandering around the house (or even getting lost).
These behaviors may be telltale signs of aging in your cat.
From subscribing to pet food delivery in Dubai to being aware of behavioral or health changes, find out more about what to do when your cat has entered its senior years.
Changes During the Advancing Years
Cats age differently from humans. A kitten you’ve had for two years is already around 24 human years. Every year after that is equivalent to four human years.
When you’ve been together for a dozen years since its birth, your cat is officially a senior citizen. Depending on your cat’s breed and state of health, most cats live up to fifteen to twenty human years.
Just like humans, aging cats also go through life changes as they grow older. Some signs may not be readily recognizable, but you will notice some differences in the way they behave if you pay more attention. Senior cats may exhibit the following signs of aging:
1. Anxiety and Increased Irritability
Your cat may be more irritable than usual.
It may seem agitated or restless at times and vocalize more or in a more urgent manner.
2. Confusion and Spatial Disorientation
Senior cats can easily get lost, get stuck in or around obstacles, fixate on objects, or stare into space.
3. Decreased Activity
Senior cats can get apathetic and less inclined to move around.
They become disinterested in their surroundings and may eat less, groom themselves less, and explore their surroundings less.
4. Learning and Memory Issues
Your cat may forget where the cat litter is or may not recognize you.
Senior cats may also eliminate in different areas other than the litter box or forget familiar people and fellow pets.
5. Change in Schedule and Sleep Cycle
Aside from exhibiting irritable behavior or agitation, senior cats may also experience a reversal of their day and night schedules.
Old age may also affect their sleep patterns, often waking up at wee hours and vocalizing and sleeping more during the day.
6. Different Social Behaviour and Relationships
Some senior cats may become apathetic and less interested in being petted.
They may also lose interest in playing with people or other pets.
Other senior cats may also get increasingly dependent, clingy, and demand more attention from their pet parents.
Over fifty-five percent of cats aged 11 to 15 years and more than eighty percent of senior cats aged 16 to 20 years old are affected with feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD).
Some behavior may be ignored and considered as signs of old age.
Senior Cat Care
Like the specialized care that we give to our senior family members or friends, senior pets also deserve proper care and attention.
Here are some ways that you can express your love to your furry friend during their advancing years:
1. Health Checks
Now that your cat is progressing in years, you must take your pet to the vet as regularly as possible.
Do not disregard behavioral changes as mentioned above, as these may be signs of FCD.
While not all changes can be attributed to FCD, it is best to have your cat checked for any other underlying illnesses.
A lot of senior cat issues are treatable medical disorders.
There are a variety of therapies that can help alleviate symptoms or provide comfort from anxiety and pain.
You should also be wary of the following:
- Balance issues
- Bumps or lumps anywhere on the body
- Difficulty passing urine or feces
- Difficulty jumping up or having stiffness or lameness
- Distress or disorientation
- Drinking a more significant volume per day or drinking more often
- Loss of appetite
- Toilet accidents
- Uncharacteristic behavior such as aggression, excessive vocalization, or hiding
- Weight loss
It’s also good practice to check your senior cat’s mouth for possible dental problems such as:
- A “chattering jaw.”
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Pawing at the mouth
- Reddening of the gums or any signs of abnormal growth
Be more vigilant in spotting these signs so you can discuss the best possible care and management with your cat’s veterinarian.
Since your cat is less keen on grooming itself, the responsibility will fall on you.
Also, older cats are less flexible and unable to reach areas like their hindquarter or lower spine.
- Brush your cat using a fine-toothed comb or a soft brush. Be gentle as senior cats tend to be thinner and have less padding over their bones.
- Grooming short-haired cats may only be done thoroughly if there is any matting.
- More attention may be required for long-haired cats. Trim the coat around the anus, back legs, and underside of the tail to prevent matting or soiling. Matts should be teased out instead of cutting them with scissors to avoid damaging the skin.
- Check for bumps, lumps, sores, or anything that may need the vet’s attention.
- Wipe away any discharge around your cat’s eyes, nose, and anus using moistened pieces of cotton wool.
3. Food and Diet
Elderly cats will also have a change in their eating and drinking habits and dietary requirements.
To address these issues, you can:
- Start your feline on a senior cat diet at age seven.
- Ensure a variety of food and water bowls in accessible areas away from usual eating areas.
- Offer small meals often at room temperature. Start with four to six meals a day to encourage appetite.
- Cats with dental problems may prefer soft food. A small amount of water mixed with your senior cat’s wet food may also be helpful.
- Raise the food bowl to a more comfortable eating position, especially for cats affected with osteoarthritis in the neck.
Your Cat’s Golden Years
Make your cat’s golden years more comfortable and enjoyable.
Pay attention to its needs and ensure that you have regular consultations with your veterinarian.
Buy food and other cat accessories from a trusted supplier such as an online pet delivery store.
This way, you can quickly and conveniently have all the things your cat needs to be delivered, giving you more time to bond and care for your senior fur baby.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market, representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.