Helping your senior cat age gracefully and stay healthy starts at home. There are lots of little things you can do to reduce stress, minimize risk of fall/injury and maintain muscle mass. All of these components will help promote a good quality of life for your aging feline friend.
What is Wellness?
Wellness is about more than medicine. It is all the parts of your cat’s lifestyle that contribute to their mental and physical health. As cats age it is harder for them to do some of the things that made them happy and healthy when younger. Recognizing difficulties your older cat may have and making minor changes in their environment can significantly impact your kitties overall well being!
As cats get older, their joints and muscles become sore, making them less flexible. This can make grooming difficult, leading to matting and poor coat condition. Help out your kitty by routinely brushing or combing them. Removing loose hairs will help prevent hairballs and matting. Their skin and coat will be much healthier and most kitties enjoy a gentle brushing.
Your cat’s nutritional needs change with advancing age. Older cats are less active and require a diet that is less calorically dense. Some are prone to obesity while others, often due to underlying diseases like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease, have difficulty maintaining weight. To ensure proper nutrition, we will help you select a nutritionally balanced and complete diet suitable for your cat’s life stage and medical needs.
Arthritis is very common in older cats. Because of decreased flexibility and discomfort, getting to their favorite perches or even onto your bed may be very difficult for them. Setting up a ramp or stairs to their favorite spots can make a world of difference. Make sure there are resources like food, water, litter, bedding and toys on every level in your home. Litter boxes should have low sides for easy access.
There are also supplements and medications we can recommend or prescribe to help alleviate the discomfort associated with arthritis. If you feel your feline senior citizen is having mobility issues, please set up a time for us to investigate the potential causes and come up with an individualized treatment plan.
*Remember nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like aspirin are potentially very toxic to cats. Do not use any of these compounds unless under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.
Exercise and Play
In addition to arthritis and associated difficulties noted above, older cats don’t have the same drive for play and exercise. Regularly engaging your cat in moderate play can promote muscle development, increase flexibility, and increase blood circulation. It can also help battle obesity.
Remove or Reduce Stress
Stress taxes your cat’s immune system and organs. Try to minimize stress wherever possible. If your cat has to travel or stay at a boarding facility make sure they have a favorite toy or blanket. Consider spraying the blanket in their carrier with a calming feline pheromone (Feliway) as a way of helping alleviate stress/anxiety. Please also see the ”Cat Stressors” section under the Adult Wellness and Care tab for more detailed information in this area.