Just like in humans or dogs, senior cats need special care too. Here’s what you need to know about caring for senior cats.
What makes a cat a senior cat?
Cats ages 7 and older are considered seniors. As cats grow older, their body changes as well. In fact, a study found that about 90% of senior cats over the age of 12 are suffering from arthritis. This causes senior cats to become less active and reluctant to do some physical activities he used to do before.
Aside from arthritis, older cats also tend to have dental issues especially if they did not receive proper dental care. Dental problems are as painful in cats as it is in humans. This will make eating painful for your cat, causing him to avoid his meals and lose weight eventually. Old cats can also suffer from different problems with their internal organs including thyroid, kidney, liver, and heart diseases.
Some older cats also have the tendency to become less active and obese.
Caring for senior cats
Caring for senior cats is different compared to middle-aged cats. Senior cats need special care so here are some things you can do to ensure cat’s good health.
Take your cat to the veterinarian for an annual check-up.
It is advisable to take senior cats to the vet at least once a year. Blood tests may be done to see if the senior cat’s kidney values, liver values, and more are good. Tests may also be done to determine if the senior cat is developing any hidden diseases.
The vet may also evaluate the senior cat’s body condition to determine if he or she is underweight, overweight, or ideal.
Give your cat a diet appropriate for his age and health condition.
Senior cats need a special diet. Vegan diet is not suitable for senior cats as they adequate amounts of protein. And since cats are omnivores, they need nutrients such as arachidonic acid and taurine – which are only found in meat. Compared to dogs, cats also need a higher protein level in their diet.
It will also help if you fortify your senior cat’s food with fatty acids such as DHA and EPA. These acids are useful for senior cats with arthritis or joint problems. Giving your senior glucosamine and chondroitin supplements is also a good idea. If your senior cat is overweight, he may need a special diet that is low in calories.
On the other hand, special diets for senior cats suffering from heart disease often have lower sodium levels. Senior cats with kidney problems have a special diet that helps control calcium, phosphorus, and other electrolyte levels.
Brush your cat’s teeth.
Brushing your cat’s teeth and keeping is mouth clean is essential for your senior cat. A clean mouth lessens the risk of health problems. If your cat is not comfortable in having his teeth brushed, you may opt to give him dental treats instead.
Encourage your senior cat to be active.
With interactive toys and occasional walks outdoors, you can encourage your cat to be active. This lessens his chance of getting overweight. By keeping your cat active, you’re helping him burn excess calories while keeping joints and muscles in good shape and condition.
Give your senior cat special treatment.
Your senior is cat is living his golden years so it’s important to make him feel as comfortable as you can. Litter boxes with lower sides can give arthritic cats easier access into and out of the box. Soft beddings can also help your cat feel comfortable. Be sure that food and water are easily accessible. Don’t force your arthritic senior cat to climb up or go down the stairs, or do anything he isn’t comfortable doing.