Unlike humans, in cats, old age comes as if suddenly. The animal grows decrepit within a few months. There is no specific age at which a cat is considered elderly. Some cats show signs of aging after 8-10 years of age, while others look and feel fine at 12-15. The owner should notice changes in the behavior of the pet, which will prompt him that the cat needs more attention and care.
Signs of aging in cats
The animal becomes less playful, sleeps more, and tries not to jump up without an urgent need. Sometimes (with osteoarthritis) movements become stiff, the gait changes, the springy smoothness of movements disappears. Intermittent limping.
Decreased sensitivity of all senses.
The cat may have difficulty hearing (does not respond to the name, does not respond to the slamming of the refrigerator door). With loss of vision, the animal has difficulty navigating in space, bumping into objects. A blunted sense of smell prevents the cat from detecting food, and overall appetite is reduced.
Deterioration of the quality of the coat.
The fur ceases to shine, looks dull or greasy. Hair is not as tightly attached to each other, there may be gaps. The coat becomes tangled and piles up in tangles.
Changes in behavior.
The cat may become both unusually affectionate (climbing on your lap, petting) or aggressive. You may become jittery and nervous. Feeling their own weakness, animals become cautious. In general, chronic ailments cause severe emotional discomfort.
Help for an aging cat
Caring for the coat
An aging cat becomes difficult to care for its fur. A healthy cat carefully washes and brushes its fur with its tongue, but with spinal and joint pain and weak muscles it becomes impossible to reach some areas.
The owner should brush the cat every day with a feather duster, as well as run a slightly damp mitten over its fur to care for its coat. This will avoid the formation of tangles, or at least detect them in time. If the coat is already tangled, a hygienic haircut is necessary.
Examination and claw trimming
Older pets can have disturbed changes in the horny coat of their claws, especially if the cat doesn’t use the scratching post as much as it used to. The excessively grown claw bends and burrows into the pad, causing severe pain and festering. Particularly prone to this problem are:
- Scottish and British cats.
If a claw is once embedded into the pad, it will need to be trimmed regularly with a claw trimmer (once every 2 weeks).
As cats age, they increasingly lose interest in their surroundings, preferring to lie in a warm place and doze off. But in order to slow down muscle atrophy, aging joints and for the bowels to work better, fluffy layabouts need to move around.
Many cats, who don’t play by themselves, agree to run around if teased by their owner. For this, there are:
- laser pointers;
- fishing rods with feathers;
- or a simple bow on a string.
As cats age, their sense of smell and taste becomes dulled, which can lead to a loss of interest in familiar foods. Food with increased attractiveness and flavor, food additives (anchovy, tuna, sardine juice) can solve the problem. The food is heated (can be in the microwave), then the smell is stronger.
You can mix your favorite treats with the recommended food and use supplements such as Vayo prebiotic drink (VIYO Reinforces for senior cats).
Litter box attendance
Older animals have slower intestinal peristalsis and can become constipated. Feces become dry and hard, and going to the litter box is painful and stressful. The owner needs to monitor the regularity of defecation, stimulating timely defecation if necessary. This can be done by administering oral medication:
- Malt paste (to eliminate wool);
- Vaseline oil;
There are special diets with a high fiber content.
Regular urination is equally important. The litter box should be easily accessible for an older kitty. If the house is large enough, it makes sense to put several cat litter boxes in different rooms. When there are several floors, this is a must.
Any cat needs to have a secluded place where no one will bother her. But an old animal that is difficult to jump, it becomes more difficult to find such a place: the cat stops climbing on the closet, jumping on the furniture.
The pet is put a house on the bottom tier – it can be an ordinary cardboard box. Children should be explained that their furry friend needs peace and cannot play with them as before. Sometimes it is necessary to isolate the cat from the dogs, because at an older age it is more difficult for her to defend and protect her “place in the sun”.
Cats do not like change and may even become ill because of a stressful situation in life. The older a cat gets, the more sensitive he is to any changes. Although we cannot protect the pet from global changes (birth of children, moving to a new home), we should keep the routine of life as much as possible. Do not rearrange the furniture, feed at the same time.
Often owners, noticing the signs of old age in a cat, bring in a new, young pet. Some even believe that the old lady will benefit from it – the kitten will play with her and shake her up a bit. But with the purchase of a kitten is better to wait, because his appearance will significantly undermine the pet peaceful old age. Older animals find it difficult to compete with younger relatives, and they are very stressed.
Even if the pet was independent at a young age, in old age the attitude to signs of attention changes. The owner should show affection to the cat every day. Stroking and scratching can be very pleasant and are medically useful. Gentle massage stimulates blood circulation and improves skin and muscle health.
With old age, internal organs wear out, immunity decreases, and chronic diseases worsen. Even wounds and scratches heal slowly as cells cannot divide as quickly as they used to. Older animals are diagnosed with cancer dozens of times more often than younger animals. Therefore, after 8 to 10 years of age, an annual check-up for the pet is a reasonable measure.
Even if there are no outward signs of malaise, an ultrasound exam and blood tests will help to detect kidney failure and other serious illnesses in time.
It is good to find a regular veterinarian, because the older the cat gets, the more often you have to go to the clinic for various issues. Keep in mind that going to the clinic is in itself stressful for the pet. If possible, you should make an appointment in advance to avoid long waiting times.