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Southlake Animal Hospital
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Call us today! 219-942-0909

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Merrillville, IN 46410

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Veterinarian’s Tips for Senior Cat Care: Expert Advice

March 15 2024

Noticing your cat showing signs of aging? While cats are generally considered seniors around the age of 11, advancements in veterinary care have extended their lifespans considerably. Your furry friend may enjoy a lengthy retirement, possibly even reaching her late teens or twenties. Look out for subtle, gradual changes rather than sudden shifts as your cat enters her golden years. However, it’s crucial to provide her with the additional care and attention she needs during this stage of life. Discover expert tips on senior cat care from a local Merrillville, IN veterinarian in this article.

Caring for a Senior Cat: What Are the Essentials?

Like any other feline, Fluffy requires essential care such as nutritious meals, a hygienic litter box, routine veterinary visits, and affectionate attention. Nevertheless, with her advancing age, you may find it necessary to make some modifications to accommodate her changing needs.

Should Older Cats Have Larger Litter Boxes?

For your senior cat’s comfort, consider switching to a litter box with lower sides. As cats age, they may struggle with mobility issues, finding it difficult to enter and exit boxes with high walls. A wider, shallower design can be more accommodating, providing easier access for your furry friend compared to deeper, narrow options.

Should I Consider Grooming for My Senior Cat?

As Fluffy grows older, you may notice her grooming habits waning, resulting in a less tidy appearance. Several factors could contribute to this shift. Aging cats commonly experience stiffness and discomfort, making it challenging to groom themselves effectively. Moreover, senior cats may have oilier skin, leading to a greasy coat. These factors can collectively contribute to a less groomed appearance in your aging feline companion.

It’s vital to recognize that messy fur can indicate potential health issues in your cat. If you notice your feline companion’s fur becoming unkempt suddenly or observe other concerning signs such as withdrawal, it’s essential to seek advice from your Merrillville, IN veterinarian promptly.

Assist your cat’s grooming routine by gently brushing her fur. Although baths aren’t typically necessary for cats, some owners choose to bathe their pets. When brushing Fluffy, handle her with care to avoid causing discomfort, especially as senior cats have sensitive skin. Consult your veterinarian for tailored advice on grooming practices suitable for your aging feline companion.

Is My Senior Cat Able to Play?

Absolutely! Playing with your senior cat is incredibly beneficial. Activities like pouncing and jumping serve as excellent forms of exercise, promoting your cat’s physical health. Additionally, these playful interactions provide vital mental stimulation, which is essential for aging cats prone to cognitive decline. Encouraging your kitty to engage in activities like chasing a red dot not only keeps her physically active but also provides an enjoyable mental challenge. And let’s not forget, it’s downright adorable!

It’s essential to recognize that Fluffy will only engage in play if she’s feeling up to it. If she prefers to nap instead, that’s perfectly okay; cats won’t push themselves like dogs do to please their owners. So, rest assured, there’s no need to worry about Fluffy overexerting herself during playtime.

For safety, select areas with soft surfaces, such as carpets, for play.

Should Older Cats Receive Special Care?

As Fluffy ages, her requirements will shift somewhat. Ensuring easy access to food, water, and the litterbox becomes essential. In larger homes or those with multiple floors, distributing litterboxes and water stations on each level can reduce the need for your pet to navigate stairs frequently.

Providing comfortable sleeping spots for your senior cat is essential. As she ages, she may spend even more time napping than before. By offering cozy beds, you’re contributing to her comfort and overall well-being. In her golden years, your furry friend might become a napping expert, clocking in up to 20 hours of sleep per day. Ensure she has plenty of comfortable areas to relax and unwind. Explore different ways to provide comfortable resting places for Fluffy. Whether you opt for beds, blankets in baskets, chests, or ottomans, there are numerous options available. Additionally, don’t overlook the appeal of boxes; Fluffy will still enjoy them. For added contentment, place these cozy spots in sunny areas or near windows with scenic views.

A night light could be helpful for Fluffy as she navigates her surroundings. Aging can affect her vision in low light, making it challenging to see. Moreover, she might experience some forgetfulness, potentially losing her way to the litterbox.

Provide support for your furry companion by arranging pet ramps, steps, or footstools. For additional guidance, consult your veterinarian.

Factors Influencing the Happiness of Senior Cats

Older cats share many preferences with their younger counterparts. Above all, Fluffy craves love, security, and comfort. Most of the advice we’ve covered caters to these needs. Additionally, it’s essential to keep her stimulated and engaged! Spend quality time with your feline friend, offering affection and a warm lap. Always handle her gently when picking her up or setting her down.

Ensuring the Health of Your Senior Cat

Just like aging humans, older cats are prone to various health issues. These may include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Loss of Hearing
  • Kidney Disease
  • Loss of Vision
  • Heart conditions
  • Dental Issues
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis

Increasing the frequency of visits to the vet clinic allows for updated advice on Fluffy’s diet and care to be obtained.

Be vigilant for signs of illness between appointments. If you notice anything concerning, please contact us promptly.

Signs of Sickness in Senior Cats

Watch for alterations in Fluffy’s appearance or behavior, as cats often conceal signs of illness. Stay vigilant to detect any changes.

Be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Stiffness
  • Withdrawal
  • Weight Gain/Loss
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Limping
  • Lethargy
  • Litterbox Issues
  • Hiding
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Discharge
  • Poor Grooming

Unusual vocalizations from Fluffy could be cause for concern. If she’s usually quiet but suddenly becomes excessively vocal, it could signify an issue.

Understanding Excessive Meowing in Older Cats

As cats age, they may become more vocal, influenced by several factors. Cognitive decline, typical in aging cats, can lead to confusion and distress as they struggle to comprehend their environment. Fluffy might seek additional attention or affection, or her increased meowing could signal discomfort. For a deeper understanding of your senior cat’s behavior, consult your Merrillville, IN veterinarian.

Leaving an Older Cat Alone: Is It Advisable?

The decision to leave Fluffy alone relies on factors like her age and health. While most cats can handle short periods alone with adequate supplies and occasional check-ins, it’s not advisable to leave older or geriatric cats unattended for more than a day. Boarding may be a better choice for their well-being.

How to Keep My Older Cat Safe

Apply the usual pet-proofing strategies for your older cat, just like you would for a younger one. Despite being less active, Fluffy might still be inclined to nibble on your houseplants.

Ensuring your senior cat remains indoors is crucial for their safety. Although we recommend indoor living for all cats, older felines are especially at risk. Their increased fragility heightens their susceptibility to potential dangers, and they may lack the agility to escape threats. Moreover, aging cats could forget their way home, making indoor confinement imperative. It’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your senior cat’s safety.

If you have any questions regarding your senior cat’s care, don’t hesitate to contact us, Southlake Animal Hospital!