Preventing Elderly Cat Health Problems Through Diet and Exercise

Your feline is considered an elderly cat when he reaches 9 to 12 years of age. Old cat problems and premature feline euthanasia can be prevented through dietary and exercise changes for your cat.

Helping Your Cat Stay Active

You may notice your elderly cat playing and climbing less. This may be for a variety of reasons besides aging so a trip to the vet is always a good idea when you notice changes in your pet. Your cat will have the best old cat health if he maintains a good level of activity. A little exercise helps maintain the cat's muscles, improve his blood circulation, avoid obesity, and help with mental stimulation. Gently play with your elderly cat, using new toys that will peak his interest. The play should be less frantic than with the younger cat but should still tire your older feline out. Brushing and grooming your elderly cat can help improve circulation and can encourage your cat to groom which provides a bit of movement and some mental stimulation.

Exercise for the Cat with Arthritis

If you notice your cat seeming more stiff and less able to move, you may need to adapt the play to help him feel more able to participate. Movement is one of the best ways to improve arthritis and there are also simple stretches you can do with your cat's legs if he allows it. Starting off with slower exercise and some brushing and massage of the muscles can help the cat exercise more easily.

Diet and Old Cat Health

A diet of high quality food in the right proportion for your aging feline is a key component to preventing old cat problems. It's important to note whether your cat is tending toward gaining weight or losing it. The elderly cat moves about less, so may require fewer calories. Other elderly cats, however, get excessively thin and may need a food change to encourage eating the proper amount. Talk to your vet about a good senior cat formula and stay away from foods with added chemicals and additives. A switch to an all natural food with more whole foods and less fillers and by-products can eliminate the symptoms of decreased mobility and stiffness. Feeding the elderly cat more roughage such as some cooked vegetables in with their soft food can help keep the bowels functioning properly.

Foods such as bananas, apples, broccoli, squash, and most fruits and vegetables are the healthiest for maintaining good old cat health. Avoid food such as sweet potatoes, beets, raw endive, dandelion or beet greens, spinach and rhubarb, as they can cause or exacerbate other old cat problems. If you notice that your elderly cat is not finishing his food, try dividing the daily food allowance into 4 meals spread throughout the day. Often as a cat ages, he needs fresher food and food with a stronger smell as the ability to smell and taste decreases with age. Once an underlying health condition has been ruled out, you only need to change your cat's diet if you notice weight loss or obesity or notice that your cat is having other physical problems.