TENDER LOVING CARE FOR SENIOR CATS
Keeping a cat is a lifelong commitment. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Senior Care Guidelines classifies a mature or middle-aged cat at 7-10 years old, a senior cat at 11-14 years old, and a geriatric cat from 15-25 years old. Most cats don’t look old after age 7, so you may wonder if your cat is really getting older. In fact, while the majority of older cats don’t show their age, their physical conditions gradually deteriorate just like humans. Their mobility, vision, and hearing get worse, and the metabolic rate of their organs gradually decreases, leading to diseases. Therefore, aging cats need more of our careful observation and care.
On average, indoor cats live 14-16 years. With special monitoring and care, many live up to 20 years. Cat owners should pay more attention to the physical changes of older cats and take them in for regular check-ups to ensure they live a happy, retired life.
Cat Years to Humans Years
Health Issues for Elderly Cats
Older cats, especially those after age 10, often suffer from a range of health problems. Issues can arise from the accumulated lifestyle habits of both you and your cat, as well as their organ function decline. Older cats are usually less active and get less exercise, which decreases their metabolic rate and immunity. As a result, their bodies store more fat. They also don’t handle stress as well as when they were young, which causes more health issues for them.
Common diseases in older cats include dental disease, an overactive thyroid, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes. The incidence of cancer also rises significantly after age 7. Arthritis is another common old cat problem because the cartilage tissue that protects their joints decreases with age, which makes them prone to pain.
Many health conditions are treatable, and problems can be prevented from developing into serious diseases by catching and curing them early. Schedule regular veterinary exams, six-month checkups for cats after age 7, and three-month checkups for those after age 10.
Catch Health Problems Early
Watch for any changes and unusual behavior. Cats can’t talk, so you don’t want to miss any signs or the best time for treatment. Talk to your vet about any concerns and have your feline examined as recommended.
You can perform some basic checkups for your old fur friend at home with a simple massage. We recommend you apply a wipe-cleaning full-body examination through the use of grooming gloves. When you clean your cat wearing dry wash gloves, you can carefully touch and scrub every inch of your cat’s body with your fingers. You can even clean their sensitive, small body parts including their canthus, chin, and butt.
While the whole spa process simply relaxes your senior cat, your careful, constant finger stroking and wiping allows you to detect any skin problems or lumps at an early stage. For example: Notice any swelling on their skin? Do they shed more? Find a large quantity of dandruff in their fur? These signs can indicate medical problems. Catch them early while massaging and cleaning your old fur baby.
Grooming Gloves for Every Old Cat
Older cats don’t handle stress well. They are sensitive to the subtlest of changes, so the last thing you want to do is to traumatize them with a bath. A better solution? Use a bath alternative - HICC GROOM! Pet Grooming Gloves. Reduce their anxiety with an easy stroking interaction.
Senior cats are less flexible, so they lose some ability to self-groom as they age. As a cat owner, it’s your responsibility to help groom them. Dry wash gloves are a great self-grooming alternative for older cats and those with arthritis, and they are easy-peasy for pet owners to use. No need to rinse or blow dry your cat after use.
With longer nap times and a less effective self-grooming habit, older cats’ fur becomes dry and dull. Hair matting and tangled fur can be very annoying and painful. Let the HICC GROOM! Pet Grooming Gloves help you detangle their messy hair and quickly make fur shiny and silky.
The skin of an elderly cat is less elastic and thinner. With diminished blood circulation, it can get infected more easily leading to skin odor and inflammation. HICC GROOM!’s natural pet-friendly ingredient, Hypochlorous Acid, can deodorize pet skin and soothe skin problems and it is safe for extremely sensitive pets.
Specialized Care for Geriatric Cats
Around age 15, the claws of aging cats are weak and overgrown. They scratch less and often expose their claws, making their toenails horny, thick, and brittle. Owners need to trim their nails once a month to prevent them from overbending and piercing paw pads.
Create a comfortable living environment for your senior cat by keeping it cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and reducing potential burdens on their body. For example, older cats are prone to arthralgia. Their muscle mass decreases with age, so their jumping ability worsens, and they struggle with walking fast. Fix this by placing their food bowl and litter box lower so it is easier for them to reach. Reduce the vertical distance between objects. For instance, if your cat loves to jump on the sofa, place a small chair next to the sofa to easily walk on it.
Feed them with food designed for senior cats. Their digestive functions weaken as they age, so choose food with a high nutritional value and highly digestible ingredients. Aging, health issues, and stress can cause a loss of protein and muscle mass, but protein supplements can replace these losses. Protein needs are greater for older cats than younger kittens, so provide your old kitty with high-protein foods. For cats with poor kidney function, be cautious. When your cat is sick, carefully follow your vet’s instructions for changing your ill cat’s diet gradually into a prescription diet.
To reduce the burden on digestive organs and maintain good health, feed your cat the same quantity and on a regular schedule. Most elderly cats show a slight to moderate decline in maintenance energy, so carefully monitor your cat’s food intake and weight changes. Sudden weight loss or gain can indicate health problems. For a normal cat, weight can fluctuate by dozens of grams but if they are sick, there might be a significant weight change. For example, if your cat’s weight suddenly drops by 10% within two weeks or a month, you should pay special attention to his/her appetite.
In addition, you should also observe whether there is any significant change in the amount of water they drink and the amount of urine they produce. Other signs of disease can include changes in sleep patterns, mobility, walking posture, and speed. Do they meow too much? Do they exhibit aggressive behavior? Always keep an eye on their weight, appetite, and movement. Finally, in addition to body exams, take them for regular dental exams.
Your cat is a beloved family member who requires different care at different stages of their life. Whether they are healthy, sick, or geriatric, they always need your companionship and care. They regard you as their loving family and your tender loving care is the only thing they’ve got, so please accept responsibility for taking care of them for the rest of their golden years. Ensure they get an enjoyable and secure retirement life.