How to Care For a Senior Cat
Your cat is essentially a member of your family and you've likely cared for them for their entire life. This means that you know them better than anyone else and should be able to spot the signs of potential issues before anyone else can. Even so, there can be some subtle signs that are missed. For this reason, This makes yearly (or twice yearly as they get older) geriatric veterinary care along with at-home care essential to their ongoing health.
How Senior and Super Senior Cat Care Changes As They Age
As your cat begins to age you will need to start taking a more proactive approach to their care. You will need to consider making some changes to their diet, environment and care as well as watching for changes from the cat itself.
Some of the most common changes that occur as a cat becomes a senior include:
- Altered Sleep Cycle
- Changes in Thyroid Function
- Decreased Kidney Function
- Vision Impairment
- Decreased Sense of Smell
- Brittle or Ingrown Nails
- Circulatory Issues
- Inability to Absorb Nutrients and Digest Properly
- More Easily Affected By Stress
- Decreased Mobility/Joint Diseases
Nutrition For Old Cats
A healthy diet is critical for a cat at any age. They have specific needs when it comes to vital nutrients and proteins and this only becomes more apparent with age.Some of the ways that a healthy diet can benefit your old cat include:
- Manage weight
- Increase lifespan
- Maintain healthy skin, coat, and bodily functions
While both wet and dry foods are made with everything that your cat needs, wet food is typically recommended as your cat may not drink enough water and wet food helps their digestion while preventing dehydration.
In order to help your cat with digestion you can offer them many smaller meals during the day as opposed to one or two larger meals.
The cognitive abilities of your cat will diminish with age which can lead to your cat forgetting where their food is as well as overeating when they do find it. This can cause its own issues such as vomiting from gorging which can result in low nutrient absorption.
Your geriatric pet veterinarian in Novato will be able to help you determine the best food to offer your senior cat based on their needs.
How Preventive Care is Crucial For Senior Cats
It is important to have an open line of communication with your vet as they will be there to help you spot any potential concerns as early as possible. They also know you and your pet and know the specifics regarding your life and what your cat's unique needs are.
Your vet will likely perform a routine exam and diagnostics such as bloodwork during your cat's visit but they will also offer any preventive care that your cat needs. Your geriatric pet veterinarian will look at your cat's teeth and offer preventive dental care as well as any vaccinations and parasite protection that will help them live comfortably through their golden years.
What Happens at a Senior Cat Wellness Exam
During your senior cat's routine checkup, your geriatric pet vet in Novato will focus on the following:
- Review of Habits and Behavior
- The Weight and Condition of Your Cat
- Skin and Fur Quality
- Dental Health
- Ears and Eyes
- Thyroid Gland Palpation
- Heart and Circulatory System
- Lungs and Nose Health
- Abdomen Discomfort
- Muscles and Joints
- Blood Pressure
- Bloodwork and Urinalysis
Our geriatric pet vets at Bel Marin Animal Hospital will also take the time to talk about any concerns that you may have,
How to Care For Your Senior Cat at Home
Ensuring life-long health and happiness for your cat doesn't stop at the veterinary clinic. You will also need to provide care at home to help keep them safe and healthy as well as stimulated mentally.
Some of the things that you should consider when it comes to at-home senior cat care include:
- Ensuring Easy Access to Food and Beds
- Making Changes to Make Your Home More Accessible
- Keeping a Veterinary Care Routine
- Providing the Necessary Medications
- Lifestyle Accommodations
By understanding the health and lifestyle needs of your cat you can help ensure that they live comfortably well into old age.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.