Senior Cat Care

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Senior Cat Care

Caring for your senior cat Your senior cats eyesight Your senior cats hearing Incontinence Arthritis Your senior cats teeth and gums Grooming your senior cat Your senior cat and exercise Feeding your senior cat Medical conditions in senior cats Once your cat reaches 7 years of age she officially enters the senior life stage.  She may no longer be as active or playful as she was and prefer to snooze in the sun a little more often but with regular veterinary attention, daily care and proper nutrition, your senior cat can still have a very happy, healthy life. Caring for your senior cat Signs of ageing Most cats live up to 14 years of age but its not unusual for them to reach the age of 20.  Signs of ageing you might notice in your cat are incontinence, changes in activity levels, and alterations in eating, drinking, or sleeping habits.  Older cats lose the elasticity of their skin which can result in hair loss and old age is also associated with a decrease in bone mass. Your cats general condition and medical history will affect her life span and ageing processes too. Helping your senior cat to be comfortable Your senior cat will like daily routine as this provides comfort and reassurance.  Her bed or basket should be in a snug, quiet place away from draughts and made comfortable with plenty of soft padding to insulate her from the cold floor and protect her achy joints.  Cats love warmth and placing her bed near a radiator or using a warming pad is a good idea.  If your cat finds jumping difficult or has arthritis make sure food and water are within easy reach on ground level. Older cats may also be less willing to use the great outdoors to relieve themselves – especially if it is cold or wet - so provide an indoor litter tray for her to use. BackTo Top Your senior cats eyesight How do I know my senior cats eyesight is failing? You might notice that your cats eyes (pupils) have a cloudy bluish haze to them. This can be quite normal and is called Lenticular (or Nuclear) Sclerosis and is just a sign of your cat getting older.  However it could be Cataracts forming.  Cataracts tend to be white and opaque so it is best to check with your vet if you notice that your cats vision is impaired.  They can be removed by surgery and your vet will advise you what the best course to take is.  Another sign of age is discharge collecting in the corner of her eyes which can be uncomfortable if it is allowed to dry but this can be wiped away with a sterilised cloth or wipe. If you notice your cat is bumping into things she may be losing her sight which can be disorientating and distressing for her. If you are concerned about your cats eyesight, arrange for an examination by your vet as some conditions can be effectively treated, preventing further vision loss. Call Vet Clinic at Petstop for a consultation. BackTo Top Your senior cats hearing How do I know my senior cats hearing is failing? Some senior cats become deaf or have impaired hearing in their old age but cats in general can cope well with hearing loss.  It is difficult to tell if your older cat has loss of hearing as cats use their other senses very well, including touch via their whiskers.  You may notice that she is hard to wake up, that her ears dont move and doesnt notice if you walk behind her.  Deaf cats will sleep very soundly so be careful when you waken her.    Unfortunately there isnt a lot that can be done for age-related hearing loss, but if you are worried take her to your vet to rule out other medical problems, such as an infection, growth, or foreign body in the ear. Tips on Dealing With Senior Cats With Poor Hearing The most important factor is your senior cats safety. If you live near a road it may be best to keep her indoors or in a secure garden.  If you live in the countryside try to avoid letting her roam, use hand signals instead of voice commands or a torch to call her in for meals at night. If your cat wears a collar, ensure it is a quick release one showing your address, your vets phone number and a note which says, I am deaf and make sure she is micro chipped. If you are concerned about your senior cats hearing call Vet Clinic at Petstop for a consultation. BackTo Top Incontinence Incontinence is quite common as your cat ages and is sometimes caused by an infection, weak bladder muscles or bowel problems. There are medications available so it is best to seek veterinary advice.  To avoid accidents in your home provide a litter tray indoors in a quiet, private location, away from food and water.  Arthritic cats often find it painful to move quickly and dont get to the litter tray in time or are less accurate in relieving themselves in it. A larger sized litter tray may solve the problem.  Please dont tell her off is this happens as she cant help it and will be upset at making a mess herself.  Call Vet Clinic at Petstop for a consultation. BackTo Top Arthritis Arthritis can be difficult to spot in senior cats but if your cat doesnt want to jump up onto furniture, climb stairs or trees or want to play and has difficulty getting into their litter tray she could be suffering from Arthritis.  Its a good idea to check with your vet if you are not sure.  Whilst there is no cure there are food supplements you can feed your cat and medications your vet can prescribe to help with her aches and pains.  You can place your cats bed next to a radiator in Winter to give her comfort and give her a larger litter tray so she has room to manoeuvre. If you are concerned about your senior cats arthritis call Vet Clinic at Petstop for a consultation. BackTo Top Your senior cats teeth and gums An estimated 70% of cats over 3 years of age develop dental problems and older cats are more prone to gum disease and plaque buildup so its best to check your cats mouth, teeth and gums regularly.  Your cats teeth shouldnt have any tartar coating them and her gums shouldnt be red, swollen or bleeding.  Infection can spread from the mouth to the internal organs and swellings below the eye may be signs of tooth root abscesses and need veterinary attention. If you are concerned about your senior cats teeth and gums call Vet Clinic at Petstop for a consultation. BackTo Top Grooming your senior cat Some cat breeds need more grooming than others as they are long haired but in old age some cats can stop licking and cleaning themselves which means that you have to take over.  Your cat may be less flexible or have arthritic joints which make grooming herself too painful.  You may notice that you need to clip her claws more often as they are not wearing down as much due to her slower pace of life.  Regular gentle grooming can also help reduce the occurrence of hairballs which if swallowed can cause blockages, resulting in vomiting or constipation. To learn more about grooming your senior cat visit our Grooming Advice. Petstop have a great range of grooming accessories in our cat Products section. If you would like to arrange grooming for your cat visit Pet Parlour at Petstop to make an appointment for a no-obligation, free consultation with our expert Groomer. BackTo Top Your senior cat and exercise Your cat may not want to play as much as she used to but she will still need regular exercise to keep her fit and prevent obesity.  Senior cats suffer from loss of muscle mass so it is important to keep her active and interested in life.  Exercise can help to enhance circulation, maintain muscle tone and prevent excess weight gain. You can encourage your cat to exercise by playing with her for 15 – 30 minutes twice a day.  Arthritis may prevent your cat from exercising so check with your vet if your cat is reluctant to play. Call Vet Clinic at Petstop for a consultation. BackTo Top Feeding your senior cat What Do I Feed My Senior Cat? Senior cats need a diet that will keep them active and healthy throughout their later years and the usual Adult cat foods dont contain the nutrients they need.  Its best to choose a cat food made especially for older cats to keep her well and happy. Older cats need fewer calories as they are not as energetic as they used to be. Senior cat foods are made to be easily digestible and contain minerals to support ageing joints as well as fats and oils to prevent dry skin and hairballs. They also have smaller kibbles which are easier to chew, especially if your cat is losing his teeth.  View cat Feeding Advice to learn more. Visit our products section for a wide variety of senior cat foods How Much Do I Feed My Senior Cat? Senior cats are less active and have a slower metabolism and you should feed her twice a day.  They often prefer smaller portions more frequently but be careful not to overfeed as older cats are prone to put on weight. BackTo Top Medical conditions in senior cats Its important to take your cat to vet regularly in her old age and some vets run special clinics for check ups for older cats.  Many signs of old age are very treatable and you can take preventative measures to keep your cat in good health.  If you notice any of the signs below, or any other signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite or reluctance to be stroked or play, you should contact your vet. Heart and Respiratory conditions – signs to look out for are a reluctance to exercise, coughing, trouble breathing, and lethargy. Kidney problems - one of the most common problems affecting middle-aged and older cats. Signs are an excessive thirst and frequent or uncontrolled urination. Hyperthyroidism - an over-active thyroid gland which causes the cat to lose weight, eat and drink more. Hypertension (high blood pressure) - can occur with underlying kidney disease or hyperthyroidism, and can result in blindness and yowling at night Diabetes mellitus - affects the control of blood sugar levels and usually occurs in middle-aged and older cats, particularly those that are overweight. Cancer - any unexplained weight loss, or growths, warts or skin lumps should be investigated. Arthritis – often under-diagnosed.  Signs to watch out for are reduction in activity, reluctance to jump onto surfaces and litter tray accidents. Dental disease - older cats often suffer painful conditions of the teeth and gums.  You can spot the signs of mouth problems if your cat is picking up and dropping her food, doesnt want to eat, is dribbling a lot or clawing at her mouth. If you are concerned please call Vet Clinic at Petstop for a consultation. BackTo Top