As your cat gets older its needs are going to change. Today, our Walnut Creek vets explain how to feed and care for your elderly cat and hopefully with ways to help prolong your cat's life.
Signs of Aging in Cats
Aging is a very normal process that happens in your pet's life. Generally aging is not something we need to worry about and your cat will show no real signs of slowing down for a long time but there are a few things you can look out for that are normal and shouldn't cause you concern.
The following are some changes you may expect to see as your cat ages:
- Thinner, less-elastic skin
- Overgrown, brittle nails
- Dull coat, fur matting
- Weight gain (middle age); weight loss (geriatric)
- Gradual loss of muscle mass
- Slight haziness to the eyes; lacy appearance to the iris (colored part)
- Decreased senses of smell and hearing
- Dental disease, bad breath
- Slowing appetite
- Stiff joints, decreased physical activity
- Increased sensitivity to cold, stress, or changes at home
- Increased need for sleep
- Personality changes (more irritable, more mellow, more vocal, etc.)
Sudden or dramatic changes in your older cat's appearance or behavior should not be considered normal and may signal that something is wrong.
Feeding an Elderly Cat
Feeding your elderly cat can be different from a kitten. Elderly cats require a bit more attention when it comes to feedings.
Energy or calorie requirements in cats does decrease in their senior years but energy requirements start to increase around 11 years of age. This is because, as cats age, they have difficulty digesting fats, proteins, and energy.
Water is the single most important nutrient for cats of any age so make sure to have your cats water dish close to where they like to sleep/ lay around.
Caring for an Elderly Cat
When it comes to caring for an elderly cat there are a few important things you can do to help your cat live a longer healthier life.
First, keep an eye out for signs your cat is in pain. Cats are excellent at hiding and hiding their pain so it is important to know the signs. Your Walnut Creek vets can evaluate your cat and determine what is going on and what is the best treatment for your aging cat. The most important thing you can do to prevent the pain from arthritis is to keep your cat at a healthy weight. As little as a pound or two of excess weight can significantly increase the pain of sore joints.
Second, make sure you're taking your cat in for its visits to the vets. Blood work done during these visits can detect the onset of health issues, like kidney disease, while there’s still time to make medical changes that will improve and extend your cat’s life. Weighing your cat twice a year will also show trends in weight loss or gain.
Next, an oral exam will detect dental disease before it negatively impacts your cat’s health. Dental hygiene is very important to maintaining your cat's overall health.
And lastly, you will need to make sure your elderly cat is still getting some exercise each day. Your cat’s mobility may become more limited, so you will need to make your home more accessible so that it’s easier on their older joints.