As our feline friends age they need us to understand and accommodate their special needs, which means understanding how to care for a senior cat. After giving us their love and attention throughout their lives, they haven’t asked for much in return. With a little careful planning and a few small changes, you can help your cat enjoy a good quality of life right up to the end. Make the most of the older years with these five Cs of senior cat care.
Cut Your Senior Cat Some Slack
As your cat ages, she may start doing things that annoy you. She might get more vocal, start peeing outside the box or become very picky about the food she eats. She’s not doing these things to spite you, and some of these behaviors can actually be signs of disease. A change in your cat’s behavior is often the only warning sign you’ll have that something is wrong with your cat. Instead of getting annoyed with her, get her to the vet.
Cater to Your Senior Cat’s New Needs
A cat’s boy changes as she ages, just like ours do. If your kitty enjoys high places but seems reluctant to jump or climb, consider getting or making some steps to help her reach her favorite places. Senior cats sometimes have trouble stepping into and out of high-sided litter boxes, so invest in a low-sided box or give her a little ramp to help her get into the litter tray.
Speaking of litter boxes, add a couple of extras in rooms where your cat likes to lounge so that if she gets that “gotta go right now” feeling, she can get to an appropriate place rather than having an accident on the floor.
Check Up Regularly on Your Senior Cat’s Health
Your senior cat should have a complete physical, including a blood panel and urinalysis, at least every six months – more often if she has a chronic condition like kidney disease or hyperthyroidism. Blood tests can reveal illnesses before they become obvious, which will make treating and managing those illnesses much more successful.
Control Your Senior Cat’s Pain
If your cat is grouchy and cranky, or if she hisses when you touch her in certain places, the odds are very good that she’s in pain. But even if she never gives you a clue, that doesn’t mean that she’s not hurting. Cats get arthritis. They get dental pain. Diseases like pancreatitis and cancer are painful, too.
It used to be that there weren’t many good options for pain management in cats, since NSAIDs are toxic to your feline friend, but that’s changing. Some cat owners are managing arthritis with a medical cannabis supplement until their pain is severe enough to require prescription pain medication. If your cat doesn’t like to take pills, fear not: many medications can be compounded into tasty liquids that are easy to give.
Cherish Every Moment with Your Senior Cat
When you know that you and your cat are going to have fewer tomorrows together than yesterdays, it becomes important each day to be present with them. This doesn’t mean to be physically in the home with your cat more, instead, focus on being emotionally present when you are with her. Some people tend to “check out” because the idea of losing a beloved friend can be terrifying, but your elder kitty needs you now more than she ever has. Living with an ageing cat is a great opportunity to practice compassion, both with your cat and yourself. One day you will look back and you will be grateful for every memory and every moment, even the ones that drove you crazy.
Do you have a senior cat? What other tips would you give people with aging kitties? Please share your ideas and your stories of your elder cats in the comments.