Caring for the Senior Cat

I have an almost 13 year old who is in failing health. We are in constant communication with his vet and it does reassure me that I am doing the right thing.  My last cat was 19 when he passed and I had forgotten how different it is to care for a senior citizen.   In many cases, nature will take its course and at each stage, most likely, there will be an opportunity to assess your cat’s health with your vet and make decisions accordingly.  It is never easy saying good-by, but by paying special attention to your cat’s needs now, you can make him more comfortable and even happy in his senior years and perhaps, extend his life and your time with him, that much longer.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/hellie55/6014069408/”>hehaden</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>CC BY-NC</a>

Generally, any cat over the age of 7-10, a cat is considered to be a senior. Here are some tips to help you care for your senior cat:

  1. Schedule regular check-ups with your vet.  Rather than the yearly check up, consider quarterly or twice a year so that your vet can make adjustments as necessary, especially with diet and nutrition.  Working with your vet on proper diet and nutrition can really make a big difference. I regularly email my vet with questions or observations to make sure I am not ignoring any signs.
  2. Make sure your cat has plenty of water.  I am now leaving water bowls around the house so that he does not have to go too far to drink.  He still likes drinking from the bathroom faucet, but needs our assistance to get up on the sink to drink.
  3. He is urinating more which is a sign that his kidneys are showing signs of age. We have also purchased litter boxes that have lower sides so that he does not have to climb over the sides.  Of course, the other cats use these litter boxes as well!
  4. I also monitor my other cats with my senior cat.  I want to make sure that they are not rough-housing or bullying him.  I do have one that is showing signs of being the “alpha” male…and I am constantly monitoring his actions with the older cat.  You may see the dynamic with your other cats’behavior and reactions change as well.
  5. While he has little interest in playing with toys, he does still like our attention. We have noticed some vision loss but can still follow a toy if it is up close.  Both my husband and I make sure we spend some time each day talking and sitting and petting him without any interruption from our other cats.  A retired show cat, we have now also decreased the number of baths we give him and instead have focused on combing, and washing his face on a daily basis.  We also make sure his nails are trimmed regularly as well.

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Trusted and faithful companions, it is our responsibility to monitor our cat’s health and take care of them as their needs change due to age.  You will find the process very rewarding and your cat will show you his love and loyalty that will stay in your heart forever.