Cats and Aging: Everything You Need to Know About Caring for Older Cats

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Is Your Cat Getting Older?

Just a few short decades ago, a cat that lived to be eight years old was considered a senior. Today, however, domesticated cat life expectancy has lengthened to the point that most aren’t considered seniors until they reach twelve years old. In fact, it’s not uncommon for vets to have a substantial list of feline patients aged twenty years old or older.

Getting your beloved cat to a ripe old age is easier now than ever thanks to incredible advances in veterinary care and a better understanding about feline dietary needs. Still, an older cat needs special care and attention if you want her to live her best life for as long as possible.

If you have a cat that is in her senior years, then here are seven healthy habits that you should start implementing into her daily routine today.

#1: Keep Your Older Cat Inside

Enjoying the great outdoors is a younger cat’s game. There are far too many dangers lurking beyond your front door that can hurt a senior cat. Not only is your older cat not as spry as she once was, but her age also makes her more susceptible to contracting diseases and other potential health problems. Plus, according to The Humane Society, cats that live solely indoors live considerably longer lives than those that live outside or spend time inside and out.

#2: Take Your Older Cat to the Vet Regularly

Going to the doctor for regular check-ups is just as important for an older cat as it is for an aging human. Being proactive with your pet’s care is essential for detecting and treating health concerns early. With cats, sticking to consistent vet visits is essential because cats are masters at hiding disease. According to The Animal Medical Center of Chicago, an older cat that is otherwise healthy should be examined by the vet every six months.

#3: Feed Your Older Cat a Balanced, Age-Appropriate Diet

Humans are always concerned about their waistlines, but when it comes to their pets’ weight, they aren’t always so aware. The problem is obesity is a common problem among domesticated cats and one that can lead to serious health risks the older the cat gets, such as joint pain, liver problems, and diabetes. One of the best ways to help keep your cat’s weight within her ideal range is to feed her a well-balanced, age-appropriate diet.

#4: Get Your Cat Vaccinated

Depending on your cat’s lifestyle and your geographic location, she may be at risk of being exposed to a variety of different infectious diseases. Getting her the appropriate vaccinations will help protect her against invisible threats.

#5: Keep Your Senior Cat Active

Along with feeding her a healthy diet, getting your cat enough exercise every day will help maintain her health and weight. If your cat suffers from joint pain, and this is causing her to be lethargic, then getting a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDS) or other pain-relieving supplement through your veterinarian may help reduce her discomfort, so she can live a more active lifestyle.

#6: Create a Stress-Free Environment for Your Older Cat

Stress is just as bad for an aging cat as it is for you. So, make whatever changes you need to create a more comfortable and stress-free environment for you both. As a side benefit, keeping your pet less stressed will also make it easier to keep her mentally stimulated and alert, both of which are essential for improving her cognitive health.

#7: Keep Your Older Cat Clean and Well-Groomed

Cats tend to groom themselves, but as your cat ages, she may need help from you in this area. For example, an older cat should receive regular dental cleaning and gum health maintenance as part of her veterinary care. If your older cat is a long-haired breed, then brushing her hair frequently will not only help her suffer fewer hairballs, but it will also help her live a happier, healthier, and more comfortable life.

Living with an older cat is undoubtedly a rewarding experience, but it is one that does require a little more of your patience and attention. You will have start monitoring your cat a little more closely and be more sensitive to changes in her behavior or eating and sleeping habits. Remember, even subtle changes can be an indication of a potential health issue in an aging cat. When in doubt, always consult with your vet and make sure your senior cat sees her veterinarian at least every 6 months, regardless of whether she is showing any signs of illness or not.

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