Essential tips for the senior cat

Taking into account the needs and requirements of older kittens is oh so important. Why is that? Because older cats, like all cats, are good at hiding pain.

If you then know that cats from the age of 7 have an increased risk of physical ailments, and we only see slightly abnormal behaviour like for example a cat that is a bit slower, takes a bit longer to jump off or onto something, then an alarm bell should ring! A close contact with your vet is very important here!

Cat Coach Sylvie of MEOWdeluxes specialises as a cat coach in the behaviour of senior cats and likes to take you into the world of our ‘oldies’! When you are extra wary and adjust the environment, your kitty can be even happier in her old age!

Tips for the older cat

Cats are getting older and older these days thanks to good medical care, nutrition and living conditions. So, how old is your cat? How’s she feeling? Is she suffering from age-related ailments? Is he possibly in pain? All these questions we ask ourselves sometimes when we look at our senior cats.

When are we talking about an older cat?

From the age of 7 years old, cats start to get older and the first ailments can start to manifest. From the age of 11 we speak of a senior cat and from the age of 15 a cat becomes geriatric. To have an idea of how old they actually are, here is a translation of cat years to human years:

* Middle-aged cat 7y-10y = Human between 45y and 59y
* Senior cat 11y-14y = Human between 60y and 74y
* Geriatric cat 15y+ = Human from 75y+

What physiological changes are taking place?

From the age of 7, a decline in the general state of health can begin and various problems can arise. Some examples: more drinking and/or urinating, more or less eating, more difficult digestion, difficulty with climbing stairs and jumping, stiff muscles, easily tired, less active, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, ingrown nails, coat change, reduced heart-flavour,…

What behavioural changes do you see?

The most common behavioural changes in old cats are secondary to degenerative disease and other geriatric changes. For example: a cat that is irritated and reluctant by chronic pain. One of the most noticeable behavioural changes in geriatric cats is that they can no longer cope well with changes in their daily routine or environment.
Adapting changes step by step and allowing old cats enough time to adapt is often effective in minimising stress and preventing behavioural problems.

Recognize pain in the older cat!

Pain can occur at any age, but chronic pain is more common in older cats. But… cats react very subtly to pain and that makes it difficult to detect.

The cat patient is more likely to withdraw or avoid contact and some pains can only be noticed during a veterinary visit.

Some examples of pain indicators:

* Behavioural changes
* Crouching and half-hidden posture
* Different response to touch, pressure or palpation
* Excessive attention to sore spots such as extreme licking and biting
* Rests more because movement is painful
* Painful facial expressions such as half-closed eyes, narrowed eye gap, flattened ears, whiskers flat against face

Is the environment adapted to your older cat?

For optimal comfort of the senior cat, make sure that all basic resources are always available, easily accessible and very close: food, drinks, clean litter trays, scratching areas, safe sleeping & hiding places. A cat’s level of comfort in its environment is automatically linked to its physical health, emotional well-being and behaviour.

How many times should I go to the vet with my older cat?

Cats are masters at hiding pain and disease. As an owner we can’t always tell when our cat is sick, but the vet can.

The senior check is recommended for older cats and consists of a physical examination, weight control, dental check, blood test, urine test and blood pressure measurement. Age-related diseases that are detected at an early stage, can be more easily controlled or even slowed down.

The senior check is recommended as follows: Annually for middle-aged cats and every 6 months for senior and geriatric cats. Preventive action is very important here!

Golden tips for the oldies
* Put food and drink bowls on a little step up, so that they don’t have to bend down, as this is painful for the old stiff muscles and joints. Use e.g. tall glass vases and fill them all the way to the top.
* Use up steps for the elderly with joint problems, so they can still reach their favourite places. They sell them for children, and are also ideal for the older cat.
* Help them with coat care and check weekly for ingrown nails, because geriatric cats can’t look after themselves as well as younger cats.
* Provide appropriate nutrition, because a less well-functioning digestion increases the need for easily digestible energy-rich food. Discuss this with your vet.
* Leave a light on at night, a demented senior cat will find her basic sources more easily.
* Consult your vet as soon as you see a change in behaviour, your senior cat may be in pain or not feeling well…

Good luck!

Love, Anneleen ♡

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