Health of your Aging Cat
By Zara Willmott
Health of your aging cat: Age is just a number, right? A Human who is 60 years old may act like a young adult, while another human the same age may at like he or she is 100. Cats are the same way! Your pet may act like a kitten for many years or may be gray and achy quite young. Specific breeds, environment, and genetics play a role, but in general, a well-cared for house cat usually live to be at least 15 years old. Some cats live to be well over 30.
How to Help:
There are things you can do, however, to provide your cat with the chance for the longest life possible. For example, have your cat spayed or neutered. Statistics show that fixed cats live longer, because this causes the cat to stay closer to home and be exposed to fewer dangerous situations and disease. Good nutrition is also important. Make sure that you are buying cat food that is appropriate for your cat’s age and dietary needs.
Age and Medical Conditions:
As you cat ages, certain medical conditions may cause you to make changes for your cat with regards to diet and environment. Examples include reduced tolerance to extreme temperatures, decreased sensory perception, susceptibility to infection, arthritis and joint stiffness, digestion problems, liver and kidney problems, weaker bones, cancer, muscle weakness, slow reaction, memory loss, high blood pressure, and irritability. As you can see, aging cats have many of the same problems as aging humans! Luckily there are many products to help support our aging pets, like pet ramps and heated pet beds to name a few.
Exercise and Enrichment:
Along with a good diet, you should promote healthy amounts of exercise for your cat. You can do this by allowing your cat to go outside (we recommend using a cat leash or a catio for their safety) and by playing with your cat every day. Toys and environmental pieces, like scratching posts, are great for encouraging your cat to exercise. Some cats need encouragement to play, catnip and silvervine are great encouragers. Remember, cats may spend a lot of the day sleeping, which is fine. Knowing the difference between sleep and lethargy is key. If you are overly concerned, talk to your vet about your cat’s sleeping habits.
Preventative health care is, of course, important. Make sure that your cat has regular checkups with the vet to make sure everything is in check. You should also brush your cat’s teeth daily and have your cat groomed regularly to prevent skin diseases. As cats age, most grow to love grooming. Monitor your cat for diet changes, changing sleep habits, and unsafe water consumption. Always bring any of your concerns to your veterinarian. The key to graceful aging in a cat is an owner who is well involved in his or her life. Make sure that you provide the appropriate care for your cat as he or she grows, and your pet should be a part of your life for a very long time.