The Golden Years: looking after old cats

The Golden Years: looking after old cats

Old cats need extra consideration, just like our older humans.

Looking after these guys is so important and easier than you think. They need lots of love and attention and we need to have our detective stills ready to work out the puzzles they will bring to us as they age. Here are my top tips to ensuring your golden oldie keeps doing well.

Look out for change in habits: Any change in behaviour is a good indication that age is setting in. It can be a puzzle sometimes that you may have to solve so understanding what is usual behaviour and not normal behaviour is paramount. Contained cats are much easer to see issues with as you can monitor them much better than cats that roam.


Watch the Old Cats YouTube Video

Diet and nutrition: as cats get older their diets may need to change. We found that traditional cat food would make our oldest vomit so we had to experiment to ensure the right foods were given to him. There are many senior cat foods on the market, the trick is to ensure that the quality of the food is good. He has a couple of different foods that he does really well on. It can be a bit of an experiment for a while to find the right balance but worth it once you see them eating well and enjoying their food. We have now found one that everyone enjoys that he can stomach with no issues. This might change again in the future and we will constantly have to check on how this works.

Water: The amount an old cat drinks can be a good sign that things might be an issue. If they are drinking more and you notice their litter box is wetter than usual it might be sign and time for a vet check-up to get their kidneys in particular checked. Keep more than 1 water bowl around the house to make it easy for them to keep hydrated.

Signs of pain. Cats are good at hiding if they are in pain. They do this so they don’t look weak to others but it does make it harder to work out if they are in pain. There is a list of things here to look for.

  • Difficulty jumping up on to what they once could, being slower to get up and out of the way. Or just not wanting to walk or move.
  • Being unsettled or trembling or aggressive
  • Not wanting you to pat them or pat a area.
  • Overly grooming one body area or not grooming at all.
  • Reduced appetite
  • Hiding and making it not easy to find them. Avoiding bright areas

All of these are good examples of signs of pain.  

Temperature control. Older cats particularly in colder climates can suffer if hey do have pain. Heat pads and heated beds can help this. Put it in an area that they can access easily. They will use it if they feel the need.

Dental health If their teeth aren’t the best then look at oral care dry food that may help with that. Check that the teeth are clean, earlier rather than later. Old cats will lose the odd tooth here and there so don’t panic to much if they do. Make sure they can eat dry food. Out old boy likes the wet food mostly with a little bit of dry food as well. Mixing the 2 can make it easier for them to eat the dry if they are struggling with it. If you feed them raw chicken wings or necks from an earlier age you will find their teeth in much better condition as this helps them remove the build-up of plague

Exercise and mental stimulation: The best thing you can do for your old pal is stimulate their mental and physical abilities. Anything from playing with them to giving them a paper bag to sit in can help. New textures, smells and things to explore and occupy their mind is excellent. They are no different to old humans. Mental and physical stimulation will occupy their time and make their life more fulfilled. Ramps and pet stairs can also help them get up to areas that they are struggling to reach. Don’t make it to easy for them. Still make them move. You know what they say, use it or loose it.

Beware of changes in weight: if your cat is noticeably heavier or lighter then get it checked out. Regular vet checks are important at this stage of their life.

Pay attention to the litter box: if it’s getting harder for them to get into the litter box you might have to invest in one with lower sides that makes it easier for them to get into and out of. Puppy pads on the floor outside of the box can help with any other mishaps. The litter box will be very helpful in seeing changes in behaviour, frequency and consistency of what your cat expels. 

Your cats needs will change as they age. What works today might not work tomorrow. Learn what is normal behaviour for your cat so you can spot any unusual behaviour. And above all, love them while they are here. It breaks our heart that they don’t live forever so enjoy them while they are with you and give them everything they could ever need or want.

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