How Do I Look After an Elderly Cat?
Most domestic cats live to between 12 and 16 years, although many grow as old as 20. Cats that spend time outdoors may have a shorter lifespan due to exposure to health hazards such as chemicals, traffic, infections, human violence and fights with other cats. As with humans, a better quality of food and health care now means that cats are living longer, and this poses unique challenges to owners who are caring for elderly cats. Here are some things to consider as your cat ages.
Diet– It is important that your cat has a diet full of a wide variety of nutrients. Some brands sell cat food specially designed to meet the needs of senior cats, which contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals that older cats need, while being lower in fat. Cats have a tendency to become overweight and may develop diabetes as they get older, so it is important not to overfeed your cat, or give him a diet high in fats. Avoid too many treats and rich fatty foods such as tuna. You may find that your cat becomes more picky about eating. This may be due to a decreased sense of smell, or perhaps because his food dish is not at a comfortable height. Make sure the dish is raised slightly so that he doesn’t have to bend down to reach it, and experiment with different foods until you find one that he will eat happily.
Old cats may also become lax about drinking enough water, so try placing a bowl near where he likes to sleep so that it is there for him when he feels thirsty.
Claws– A cat’s claws become more brittle with age, and most cats tend to use their scratching post less and less as they lose their mobility and flexibility. Check your cat’s claws regularly to keep an eye on length and clip or file them down if needed.
Eyesight– As your cat’s eyesight deteriorates try not to change the position of layout of furniture in your home. This can confuse or frighten your cat. If anything does change, monitor your cat carefully for a few days as he readjusts to the new environment to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself.
It is normal for cats eyes to turn cloudy as they age, but your vet will check for glaucoma, cataracts and other eye conditions during regular check ups.
Hearing– Going deaf is a part of growing old, for cats as well as humans, however a lack of hearing can cause cats to be easily startled. If your cat is severely deaf, use visual or vibrational cues such as stamping on the floor or waving to signal to your cat that you are approaching.
Teeth– When it comes to oral hygiene, prevention is better than a cure, and this is especially hairless cats for sale true when it comes to gum disease. Once the gums have deteriorated there is no way for them to regenerate. Get your cat used to having his teeth brushed from an early age, and feed them a diet that includes food designed to prevent plaque build up. If an older cat has sensitive teeth you may need to feed them wet food or dry food that is moistened with water to make it easier to chew.
Infections in the gums and mouth can spread to the heart and kidneys, so if your cat stops eating, has bleeding gums, or particularly bad breath, take him to the vet to be checked over.
Joints and Muscles- No kitten stays flexible and energetic forever, and as a cat’s muscle tone decreases and their joints may become inflamed with conditions such as arthritis they may have more trouble moving around.
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