Some Cats Are Getting On
Cats are currently living as old as 20 years and they are considered senior at 11 years and geriatric from 15 years old onwards.
While all cats can develop health problems, older cats are more prone to certain problems including kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, dental disease and arthritis. Therefore, it is important that older cats are checked by a vet more often than when they were younger. Ideally, they should have a check-up twice a year and more frequently if a problem is noticed such as weight loss or changes in urination, appetite or behaviour. By going to the vet more frequently it is more likely that diseases will be identified sooner which will benefit your cat.
Change In Diet
Older cats may also need a change in diet. Decreased digestive function, particularly issues digesting protein and fat, may cause your cat to lose weight. On the other hand, older cats can have a reduction in activity or a decreased metabolism which could lead to them becoming overweight. Diets specifically designed for senior cats are available as well as a variety of prescription diets for cats with specific conditions such as kidney disease, digestive disorders and urinary care to name a few. Your vet can advise you about which diet is best suited to your cat.
Where aging cats may have a decrease in activity levels it’s important to keep them active and mentally stimulated. This can be done by encouraging play regularly with a toy they like. Puzzle feeders or hiding small amounts of food for your cat to find is a good way to keep them mentally stimulated. It is also important to consider that a decrease in activity may not just be due to your cat’s age but instead due to arthritis. Arthritis is common in older cats and signs include decreased activity and a reluctance to jump. To help keep your arthritic cat comfortable make sure to provide them with soft comfy bedding, ensure their litter tray is easily accessible. If appropriate weight loss can help take pressure off joints but this is something you can discuss with your vet.