Senior Cat Care
Senior Cat Care: My cat is over 7 years old how does this change his care routine?
Similar to dogs, a cat’s age can seem young in “human years” but when you understand how they age it’s easy to see why cats over 7 need different care. The first year of life your kitten goes through these human stages: infant, toddler, preschool, school aged and early teen. That first year is equivalent to 15 human years, that’s a lot of maturity in 12 months. In the first 2 years of cat life, your cat has essentially grown into a “24 year old”. After 2 years their maturity does slow down to each year equaling about 4 cat years. This chart is great and shows the equivalent human years to cat years.
For those of us above 40 I think we can relate to seeing the doctor more regularly, taking longer to recover from injuries and needing to take better care of our health. When you look at this chart a 7 year old cat is 44 human years.
What to Do?:
So your cat is now 7yrs old, what now? First thing would be to contact your vet to arrange regular checkups: It is recommended that cats over 7yrs see the vet every 6 months. For those of you with pet health insurance, check with the company on if the policy has any exclusions, addendums or extra coverage regarding senior cats.
Senior cats may require a different diet. Once you start seeing the vet every 6 months having the discussion of when to make the switch to senior food is important. some cats may be fine to continue on their current diet but as they age it does become harder for senior cats to digest fats, protein and energy. Senior formulas have taken this into account and provide food that is easier to digest thus keeping kitty healthy.
Common Senior Cat Problems:
This is a list of common problems that might develop with your senior cat. If you start to notice any of these get your kitty in to see the vet for a checkup.
- Difficulty or reluctance to try jumping or climbing
- Changes in weight
- Strange lumps or bumps
- Failing to use the litter box
- Appetite loss
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Lethargy or listlessness
- Runny nose or eyes
- Cloudy eyes
As with a cat of any age the sooner we can catch a potential problem the better chance we have of being able to treat it successfully. Another thing to watch for is any indication that your cat might be feeling pain in their mouth. Senior kitties can develop dental issues and in some cases need to have teeth extracted.
Common Health Conditions in Senior Cats:
There are a few known health conditions that can affect Senior cats. Diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease are the three most common diseases of senior cats that are diagnosed through blood and urine. Each of these diseases are manageable, especially when caught early.
Common symptoms of diabetes in cats are: Increased urination, Excessive thirst, increased appetite and weight loss. Diabetes is easily treatable and if caught early can be managed well with diet and medicine.
common symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in cats are: weight loss despite an increased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, drinking and urinating more than normal. Hyperthyroidism is also treatable. Establishing the correct medicine routine for your cat is important. some cats with hyperthyroidism can develop other health concerns as their disease progresses
Common symptoms of Kidney disease in cats are: weight loss, poor hair quality, halitosis (bad breath), changing appetite, increased drinking or urinating, vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia. kidney disease can be managed when caught early. Treatment can be SubQ fluids or IV fluids, supplements, medications, and vitamin injections . The goal of treating kidney failure is to slow its progress and manage its symptoms so that your cat can continue to have a good quality of life.
As can be seen by these lists a lot of the symptoms are similar to each other which is why having the proper diagnostic tests done is so important. Should you suspect any of these health conditions in your cat talk to your vet. No treatment plans should be started without consulting a vet.
Old is Just a Number:
A senior cat is still a cat they just need senior cat care. They still need enrichment opportunities. Depending on their health conditions they may still show interest in “hunting” and may still have the energy levels of their kitten years. Providing your cat with a enriching environment will help keep their mind and body healthy. A few examples of how to do this: provide treat dispensers, food puzzles, place a pet bed near windows so they can enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of outdoors, use youtube cat videos to stimulate their visual sense, play classical music, this list can go on but I hope you got some good ideas
In conclusion your senior cat is still your loveable fur ball, they just need a bit more time and attention to help keep them healthy and happy. So what are you waiting for? Book those checkups with your vet today and be prepared to enjoy your cat’s senior years!