Old age can affect not only your cat's appearance but also their behaviour. It's important to take extra care of senior cats during this stage of life.
In this article, we'll give you some tips to help you take the best care of your senior cat.
Physical signs of ageing in cats
An animal is classed as a 'senior citizen' in the cat world when they are about 10-12 years old. However, the first signs of ageing tend to become visible between about seven and 10 years.
An older cat is likely to lose weight, especially in terms of muscle mass. Their fur will begin to look a little more drab and scrappy, and feel less soft, and you are likely to find matted clumps of fur in long-haired felines. This change in the quality of your cat’s coat will make them more sensitive to the cold and damp.
As your cat gets older, their behaviour will change too. You might find that your furry friend, once a great explorer who loved jumping from fence to fence with ease, now prefers to curl up in peace and in the warmth.
It should also be noted that senior cats can be subject to illnesses that you might not have previously considered. Diabetes, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and dental issues are just some of the health concerns to be on the lookout for as they age.
He or she might also come off as a little grumpy. It could be that they no longer want so much physical contact; being petted just doesn’t interest them as much. However, grumpiness could be a sign of pain or discomfort so it's worth contacting your vet just in case.
If you notice your cat meowing incessantly, despite having enough food, water, and attention, it could also be the sign of an underlying problem. Additionally, peeing in unwanted places can be an indication of a urinary infection, kidney troubles, or diabetes for example.
Our advice for looking after a senior cat
Deciding to adopt a pet is committing to taking care of them in old age.
Firstly, older cats need peace and quiet. If there are children in the house, you can explain this to them so that the whole family is on the same page. Try to give them a quiet space of their own that is comfortable and warm (especially if they are losing weight).
You will also need to change their diet. Older cats don’t have the same energy needs as younger ones; they won’t require as many calories, but they may need more protein to maintain muscle mass. Why not have a look at our article on how to feed an elderly cat.
You may also like to serve your cat warm (but not hot) food to help compensate for their weakened sense of smell.
If he or she is an outdoor cat, you should keep an eye on them while they’re outside. If they run into trouble, they’re less likely to be able to help themselves than before.
Finally, we recommend brushing your cat gently every day. This will help to combat the tufts of hair mentioned above and leave their coat looking and feeling silkier!
You can read more about living with a senior cat here.
Do you look after a senior cat? Have you noticed changes in their behaviour?