!Header Logo

Taylorsville Veterinary Clinic

!Call Today!

A Mt. Airy, MD Veterinarian’s Tips for Senior Cat Care

April 15 2024

Is your feline companion beginning to show signs of age? Although kitties are considered elders around the age of 11, many cats now live well into their teens or even twenties, so Fluffy may have a long retirement. You’ll probably notice modest, gradual changes in your feline friend’s appearance and demeanor, rather than drastic ones. Fluffy will have the same basic needs as any other kitty, including good food, clean litter, proper medical care, and, of course, lots of love. However, you may need to adjust her care regime a bit. This article features advice from a local Mt. Airy, MD veterinarian on how to care for a aging cat.

Do Older Cats Need Larger Litter Boxes?

Consider getting your cat a litterbox with low sides. Older cats often become stiff and sore, and they may struggle to get in and out of high-walled ones. Fluffy may also find it easier to work with something that is wider and shallower than deep and narrow.

Should I Groom My Senior Cat?

You may notice Fluffy beginning to look disheveled. There are several plausible explanations for this. One is that cats usually get stiff and sore when they get older. Your cat may struggle to bend and stretch enough to clean her entire body. Senior cats’ skins may also create more oil than younger cats’. This can also leave her coat looking oily.

However, it is important to remember that untidy fur might occasionally indicate that your feline companion is not feeling well. If your kitty’s fur quickly becomes unkempt, and/or you observe additional red flags, such as withdrawal, contact your veterinarian.

You can help your feline companion by gently brushing her. When brushing Fluffy, don’t pull too hard. Senior pets have extremely fragile skin. You do not want to hurt your furry buddy! Consult your Mt. Airy, MD veterinarian for detailed advice on this.

Should I Play with My Senior Cat?

Absolutely! In fact, playing with Fluffy is one of the most beneficial things you can do for her. Pouncing and jumping provide excellent exercise for cats. Additionally, this provides mental stimulation. That’s especially crucial for senior cats. Just like humans, pets can experience cognitive impairment as they age. Focusing on catching the red dot will also exercise your cat’s mind. (Plus, it’s adorable.)

Of course, this is only effective if Fluffy is feeling frisky. If she’d rather take another snooze, she’ll simply stroll away. That’s purrfectly fine! One thing we know for certain about cats: unlike dogs, they will not push themselves to impress us. So you don’t have to worry about your feline friend overdoing it.

In terms of safety, simply choose areas with a soft surface, such as a room with carpeted flooring.

Do Older Cats Need Special Care?

Fluffy’s needs will change a little as she gets older. You want to ensure that she has easy access to her food, drink, and litterbox. If you have a large home and/or multiple floors, keep litterboxes and water stations on each level. That way, your feline friend will not have to climb as many stairs.

Setting out beds is also important. By the time your adorable pet reaches her golden years, she’ll be an amazing napping champion, able to sleep up to 20 hours every day. As you might expect, one of the finest things you can do for your tired pet is to provide her with a variety of comfortable settings to curl up (or sprawl out) in. You can buy or make beds, but you can also put blankets in baskets, chests, or ottomans. (Fluffy will, of course, continue to enjoy boxes). You’ll get extra purrs if you place some of these in sunny areas or near windows with pleasant views.

We’d also recommend turning on a night light for your cat. Fluffy’s night vision may not be as good as it once was. She may also become forgetful and lose her way as she is headed to the litterbox.

Another thing you may do to assist your feline pal is to install pet ramps or stairs. Footstools will also work. Contact your veterinarian for further information.

What Makes Senior Cats Happy?

Older cats generally enjoy the same things as younger ones. At the end of the day, Fluffy wants to feel loved, safe, and at ease. Keep that engine running! Spend plenty of time with your kitty companion, providing attention and lap space. Just be gentle while picking up or putting your kitty down. As your feline pal ages, it may become uncomfortable for her to be picked up or held.

How Can I Keep a Senior Cat Healthy?

Many of the health problems that aging people confront also affect older cats. Your pet may need to visit the vet more frequently. This is also a purrfect opportunity to get updated information about Fluffy’s food and care.

In between checkups, watch for signs of illness. Our feline friends can be a little coy about expressing their discomfort. This is a survival instinct: in the wild, predators tend to hone in on sick or weak animals. Keep a close eye on Fluffy’s appearance and behavior.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Hiding
  • Withdrawal
  • Poor grooming
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Gain or Loss
  • Stiffness
  • Respiratory issues
  • Discharge
  • Fever 
  • Lethargy
  • Litterbox Issues
  • Drooling
  • Limping
  • Appetite shifts

Unusual vocalizations may also be a red flag. If Fluffy is typically silent but suddenly starts weeping, there could be an issue. If you observe anything out of the ordinary, please notify us immediately. 

Why Do Old Cats Meow So Much?

It is fairly common for senior cats to get a little yowly. There are several plausible explanations for this. One is cognitive deterioration. Senile cats might become forgetful and confused, and then may become distressed, since they do not fully grasp why or what is going on. Fluffy may  also want more attention and cuddling. Alternatively, she may be reacting to discomfort. Ask  your Mt. Airy, MD veterinarian for further information.

Can I Leave My Older Cat Alone?

This would eventually be determined by Fluffy’s age and health. Most cats can be left alone for a day or two, as long as they have food, water, and clean litter. We wouldn’t recommend letting senior cats alone for longer than a day. Boarding may be a better alternative. Or, have someone stop in to check on Fluffy. If your feline pal has medical issues, we also wouldn’t suggest leaving her home by herself.

How Can I Keep My Older Cat Safe?

You’ll want to use the same basic petproofing procedures as you would with a younger cat. Fluffy will certainly be less playful than she used to be, but she may still try to devour your houseplants.

We also strongly advise keeping your furry buddy friend indoors. We recommend that all cats be kept inside. However, older cats are more vulnerable, as they are weaker and frailer, and therefore may be unable to flee possible attacks. Furthermore, Fluffy is at risk of forgetting how to get home. Take a precautionary approach here, and keep your pet inside. 

Do you have any queries about senior cat care? Contact us, your local Mt. Airy, MD pet hospital, at any time!