Cats, unlike dogs, have a tendency to grow old gracefully, which means it can often be difficult to detect senior cat health problems. This is because when they are in pain, or sick, they are very good at hiding health related issues. Senior cats often get age related conditions that we may ignore, or not realize until it is much too late, however, there are subtle signs we can pick up on. In this article we will look at some senior cat health problems, and offer some advice on special unique needs that older cats may need.
What are the more common senior cat health problems and age related special needs?
1. Loss of mobility due to arthritis
Cat arthritis is actually quite common in older cats, but we don’t always realize it because they hide it well, though you can notice the subtle changes, like he won’t jump up to high places where he once did. In addition, later stages of arthritis may even stop him from going into the litter box, although we may just put this down to ‘he wants to go outside’. Keep in mind, that arthritis is also harder to spot in cats than in dogs, because they are much lighter on their feet and is much more common than you may think.
2. Visit vet to check for hard to detect problems
Another problem with older cats is that we can often put things down to old age, yet it could be something more serious. Our senior cat may not act the same way to family members as he used to, or he may cry out in the night where before he didn’t. He may act confused, or not use his litter tray reliably, and although this could be signs of old age, it could also be a sign that he has arthritis, kidney disease or dental issues, so he should be checked out professionally by your vet rather than to put it down to old age
3. Have regular routine health tests carried out by the vet
The good thing about cats is they don’t lie, and if you notice changes in his behavior then there is probably something wrong, and this could be changes in his vocal sounds, bathroom habits or even his appetite. Taking your cat to the vet twice a year should be done, especially in senior cats, because many health conditions can be caught early on, and then treatment is often more effective. Urine and blood tests can often reveal early signs of kidney problems, elevated white blood cell count, hyperthyroidism and even diabetes.
4. Reassessing your cat’s dietary requirements
In senior cats you should also make sure you get them to drink plenty of water, or if you’ve been feeding dry food until now, talk to your vet about switching to canned or a semi-moist food. In fact, the American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends feeding wet food to cats throughout their whole lives. Senior cats also tend to be overweight in many households, so you may have to change his diet accordingly to get him back to a healthy weight to avoid health problems related to obesity.
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5. Special grooming needs of a senior cat
We can help our cat in his senior years by doing some special unique things that can affect his health and help him live longer, and it’s nothing too difficult either. Some simple, but effective things to do for your senior cat is brush him daily, as older cats tend to not groom themselves so much, this also removes loose hair that he may swallow so it prevents hairballs. Moreover, brushing your cat also helps to stimulate blood circulation as well as stimulating the sebaceous gland secretions resulting in a much healthier coat and skin.
6. Dental disease in senior cats
That being said, dental disease is more prevalent in older cats, so you may want to help prevent this by brushing his teeth regularly, as dental disease can lead to other more serious conditions very quickly. Most cats will allow you to brush their teeth, although in some cases you may have to introduce a toothbrush gradually, and work up to brushing. A popular reason for cats not eating properly is dental disease, or a related problem, so it is important to keep their teeth clean.
7. Reducing stress levels for your pet
Trying to keep stress levels down for a senior cat can also be important, as older cats get stressed more easily, and take longer to get over it. For instance, if you’re going away for a week or so, instead of using boarding for your cat, try to get a family member to stay with him in his home. However, if this is not possible make sure he has some things that are close to him, like a favorite blanket or toy. Bringing a new pet into the home can cause stress as can a move to a new house. Therefore, try to keep his stress levels down to a minimum during this time, and spend some extra time with him letting him know everything is going to be ok.
8. Special pet furniture for senior cats
Sooner, or later your senior cat will get to a point where he will need more help with things that we used to take for granted, like climbing, jumping up, and perching on high things. If you notice he doesn’t climb up on that bookcase anymore, try installing small ramps to his favorite places, so he can still get to them. A ramp or small steps can allow him to look out of a window at birds again, or climb up onto a bed to lay down.
9. Be vigilant to your senior cat’s special age related needs
Senior cat health problems can be many, and they can be hard to detect, so being vigilant with our senior cat can help us in diagnosing things early on. Only you know the behavior of your cat, but if you notice any changes it’s always best to get him checked out, and if there are things that he can’t do anymore, see if you can find a way to help him in that area too.
- Keep in mind, that senior cats should also have softer bedding, plenty of water, and have their nails checked often too, to see if they need clipping, because older cats tend to not use scratching posts like they did when they were younger.
Finally, by taking the time to do some of the things suggested within this article topic today, it can help both you, and your senior cat to be able to continue enjoying each others company, and their favorite activities too with ease.
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