As Time Goes By

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, discusses what to expect as your cat gets older.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: August 28, 2009 3:00 a.m. EDT

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Q: What should I expect as my cat grows older, and how can I help her adjust?

A: My wonderful cat Magic, who really worked his “old black magic” to put me under his spell, is nearly 16. That’s about 77 in human years, so he’s a full-fledged senior. All I can think is gosh, where has the time gone?

Magic has always been a sweet and affectionate kitty, even more so these days. He also sleeps more now, usually on my lap whenever I get a minute to sit down. He likes to eat small meals several times a day, as I’ve seen many older cats do, and he has me well trained. I don’t dare leave the kitchen without giving him a snack. Fortunately, he still grooms himself and every now and then enjoys playing with a fishing pole cat toy.

Aging is a natural process, but you can make it easier for your senior kitty. Be on top of any changes in his behavior, and report it immediately to your veterinarian. In fact, it’s a good idea to have your cat examined twice a year for early detection. Older cats might not groom themselves as much, and this can lead to matted hair and a dull coat. Help them out with daily brushing. It will control excess hair and help stimulate circulation for a healthy coat. It can also act like a gentle massage, which is a great way to spend quality time together. Also, make sure you check and clip his nails regularly.

If your cat has trouble making it to the litterbox in time, try putting a few extra boxes in the house. I suggest one on each floor. Leave extra food and water bowls in different rooms, as well. If he has trouble bending down to reach them, there are special feeding platforms you can purchase at your local pet store. If jumping up to his favorite spot is becoming difficult, buy carpeted pet stairs for him.

Finally, no matter how old cats are, they never forget how to play, so set aside some quality time to play together. Make sure you give him frequent hugs and petting so he knows how much you love him. As always I encourage you to comment and share your stories.

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Reader Comments

Connie    Kingston, ON

8/23/2012 6:41:36 PM

My lovely little blue-point Siamese was almost 17 when she had kidney problems and I held her in my arms and whispered to her softly and she purred her way into Cat Heaven (when the vet gave her the shot.) She absolutely loved it when I whispered "sweet everythings" to her. She always purred when I did this.

She never showed any signs of her age and would still play just like a kitten. I had to turn her over in bed whenever I turned or her feelings were hurt and she saw it as rejection (which meant a bite on the nose.) She had me trained very quickly.

Yes, she did bite when she was displeased but she was so full of love that it seemed to shine out of her like sunshine. This was my first unconditional love and my first cat. She was not the last.

Mike    Momence, IL

9/2/2009 8:20:28 PM

I learned alot as i read this.

Linda    St. Louis, MO

9/2/2009 3:23:27 PM

My kitty Pepper is 19, so quite obviously a senior. I agree about watching your older cats closely. Pepper was missing the litter pans (going to them, but urinating over the edge and onto the floor). I took her to the vet after the third time she did that, because that was just NOT like her. Turns out it is a combination of arthritis and a bladder infection. We are treating the bladder infection and, so far, that seems to have reduced the number of accidents. While Pepper is not very happy about having to go to the vet every two weeks for shots, she loves the all the attention she has been getting in between. At this point in her life, I feel the quality of that life is the most important.

Evelyn    Beamsville, ON

9/2/2009 8:05:39 AM

Great article.

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