Caring for Elderly Cats

As part of Senior Health Care Month, shares tips on care for your older feline friends.

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Senior Cat CareBecause of their genetic compositions, any cat 7 years old or older is considered elderly. Just like humans, cats who are in the latter stages of their lives have special needs.

Just as people require regular diagnostic tests such as blood work, cholesterol monitoring and blood pressure checks as they age, so do senior pets. In fact, theres a whole checklist of senior cat care requirements.

Veterinarians across the country, as well as organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association and Pfizer Animal Health, recommend taking these basic preventive steps when looking after the health of an elderly feline:

Take your senior cats to the veterinarian for a checkup at least every six months to effectively monitor changes in their health. Plus, frequent checkups help build a rapport with your veterinarian.

Look, listen and feel for bumps, signs of pain or behavioral changes. Any physical or behavioral changes in a senior cat could be significant. Disorientation, changes in sleep or loss of housetraining may be indications of a health problem. Weight fluctuation, increase in thirst and/or urination or any change in your cats normal behavior could also be problem signs.

Maintain a familiar routine with your cats to minimize stress in their life. Moderate exercise should help with weight control and keep muscles toned. If you notice that your cat tires easily or has trouble breathing while walking, bring it to your veterinarians attention.

As cats get older, their nutritional needs change. Immune and digestive systems can become more delicate. Cats can lose muscle mass, and weight gain is common because of reduced activity levels. Switch to a senior cat food to provide enhanced levels of nutrients that are important to skin and coat health.

Check their teeth. The health of your cats teeth and gums can be indications of both dental and overall health. Periodontal disease can be painful and cause other serious complications, such as respiratory infections, liver disorders, kidney infection, heart inflammation and brain damage.

Have basic blood and urine tests run to help determine the presence of existing diseases before medical procedures requiring anesthetic. Also, regular blood and urine tests can help identify diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.

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Caring for Elderly Cats

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Reader Comments

Pam    Salem, OR

9/3/2010 8:34:53 AM

I appreciate this information. However, my cats are 17 and 23. Despite constant searching on the net and questioning of the vet and pet stores I seldom get any really helpfui information on how to maintain their health and longevity. Often I am told their age is an anomally, but I disagree. I meet people more and more often who also have cats in this age range and share my frustration. I doubt seriously that the needs of a 7 yr old "senior" and a 20+ yr old are the same. Wouldn't it be great if one of these companies would step up and declare a whole new line of food, products and advice for kitties like mine. Maybe call it "geriatrics" or something that distinguishes them from the currently defined seniors. Society keeps saying 40 is the new 30 or 50 is the new 40. Well perhaps it stands to reason that if we are living longer than so are our pets and therefore rethinking and redefining "senior pet needs" only makes sense. If you know of any truly helpful information for kitties of very advanced age, i would be enormously grateful to know of it.

Frances    Marseilles, IL

9/17/2006 4:14:36 PM

Great! And give this elderly cat all the attention he or she asks for. I lost 5 elderly cats last years, and I'm glad I was able to hold some of them at their last breath.

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