Pet Care Tips for Senior Cats

For a cat, the senior phase of their lives begins between the age of 8 and 12 years. It might be difficult for you to accept this, but noticing the changes helps you to make life more comfortable for your cat as well as possibly helping to extend her life ever so slightly. For pet care of the older cat, it is important to consider changes in mobility, nutritional needs, and behavioral changes. You can then take simple actions to make the transition into the senior years a happy one. Knowledge about the senior years for cats can help if you are pet sitting for a friend with an older feline.

Changes in Mobility

The older cat might be less able to jump up onto her bed or other favorite napping or bird watching spot. This may be due to arthritis or just general aging. Provide a small carpeted step to help your cat get up to the window sill or a favorite perch. Provide a nice cat bed on the floor and make sure your cat can easily reach food and water. If you notice mobility issues, have your vet check for arthritis. There are some excellent nutritional supplements for cats that help keep joints and muscles flexible.

Exercise Needs

You can help your cat stay mobile and active. Encourage your cat to be active by playing with her for at least 10 minutes a day, twice a day. You can also encourage activity by providing a deluxe cat tree with a rope and a bit of cat nip and toys to spark the cat's interest. Some cats enjoy supervised time outdoors with their owner. Take your cat outside in an enclosed area. The birds and bugs alone will encourage your cat to move around a bit more than usual.

Nutritional Needs

An older cat has different nutritional needs than in prior years. Some studies indicate that an older cat has a harder time digesting food. She may be less able to absorb vitamins and minerals and might not be getting absorbing the calories they need to maintain a healthy level of activity and vitality. Many high quality cat foods provide senior formulas with highly digestible proteins and fats. Look for a formula that has whole ingredients vs. by products and also a produce that supports healthy digestion. Switch over to the new food gradually by introducing small amounts of the new food into a mix with the old and gradually increasing to just the new food.

The senior cat may need more encouragement to drink water and may be more picky about water that is extremely fresh. An automatic water dispenser or a fountain for the cat may encourage hydration. If your cat seems to be drinking more water than usual, however, check with your vet about a possible thyroid change or other health issues such as diabetes.