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Senior Cat Care: 10 Expert Tips for Mature & Geriatric Felines (2024 Update)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

persian senior cat

Keeping your feline friend comfortable and healthy as they age is important. As your feline friend ages, they become fragile and extra care is necessary. Your cat may slow down and nap more often and prefer peace and privacy rather than the long hours of playtime and exploring they did when they were younger.

Your senior cat may have reached its double digits in lifespan, and they are not the same as they were when you first got them. Older cats are typically more lethargic and inactive. This makes it necessary to change up the care routine to accommodate it to your cat’s current age.

This article will give you some of the best care tips when it comes to caring for senior cats. Whether you have recently just gotten a senior cat or if you have noticed your cats’ aging signs, then this article is right for you.

Top 10 Care Tips For Senior Cats

1. Keep your senior cat inside.

Many dangers are lurking around outdoors and senior cats are most at risk. As your cat ages, their senses deteriorate with age, and they are not always as alert and agile as they were when you got them. This makes them susceptible to getting injured or killed in car accidents because they cannot notice the car quick enough or move out of the way.

Your cat may also get into fights with younger cats who wander the neighborhood and have more strength than an elderly cat. If your cat has dementia or has started going senile, they could even get lost and struggle to find their way back home. Overall, it is better to keep your senior cat indoors where it is safe.

hind legs of senior cat with arthritis
Image Credit: Roman Chekhovskoi, Shutterstock

2. Increase veterinary visits.

As your cat ages, health issues become more common. This makes it important to take them to the vet for regular checks and blood work to ensure that your cat is doing well both internally and externally. Your vet could also pick up the start of a disease or condition that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. This then allows the vet to treat it promptly which can minimize your cat’s potential suffering and increase their longevity since the condition wasn’t able to develop into the late stages.

Your senior cat should go to the vet every 3 to 4 months for an examination. The vet will do blood work and bodily examinations to check if they have a health problem. It is common for cats to develop kidney failure, arthritis, dental problems, and weightlessness during old age. Your vet can help administer treatments to alleviate any uncomfortable symptoms.

3. Maintain a good grooming routine.

Your senior cat may struggle to groom themselves as much as they used to. They will need your help to keep their coat in good condition. Some good grooming practices for elderly cats are lukewarm baths, gentle brushes, and trimming the fur in areas your elderly cat can no longer reach to clean themselves.

Your cat will also need their nails trimmed at the vet every 6 months to ensure that they have no overgrown nails that could cause them pain. Your vet may also do a dental exam to check if your cats’ teeth are in check.

4. Keep your senior cat active, comfortable, and moving.

It can be sad to see your once active cat becoming lazier and sleepier. However, it is important to keep them enriched and active to remain in good health. Vigorous exercise would not be ideal for elderly cats since it can exhaust or potentially injure them. Mild exercises can be used to get your cat’s joints moving increase blood flow throughout the body. Stimulating cat toys supervised walks in the garden, and plenty of cuddles and pets will suffice for your senior cat and keep them active and moving.

Senior cat lying on the wooden floor
Image Credit: sophiecat, ShutterstockImage Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

5. Change their diet.

Kittens and young adult cats do not all have the same dietary requirements. Kittens require higher levels of protein in their diet to fuel their high energy levels. Adult cats require a balanced protein level with smaller portions of food throughout the day. Senior cats should be fed a diet lower in protein and extremely low in sodium as they are prone to kidney problems as they age. There are specific foods on the market tailored towards kittens, adults, and senior cats. This makes it easy to choose a good for the old cat that you can trust has safe ingredients for your old feline.

With the help of an animal nutritionist, you can work together to find the right diet for your senior cat and weigh the pros and cons of each brand. There are even foods that are formulated for cats with arthritis or kidney problems, so your vet may recommend this as a good chance for your elderly cat.

Do not change the food right away as it can cause stomach issues in your cat. Slowly introduce new foods into your cat’s diet by mixing them into the current food. This helps to lower any gastrointestinal discomfort that will affect your elderly cat’s sensitive stomach.

6. Increase your cat’s water access.

Senior cats should have constant access to fresh, flowing water. Cats prefer to drink from flowing water rather than stagnant water in a bowl. Getting senior cats to drink enough water can be difficult, so a cat drinking fountain might be a good way to entice your cat to drink. Leave water around the house and make sure your cat knows where to find it.

7. Prepare before the veterinary visit.

It is important to follow a few steps before taking your senior cat to the vet to ensure that the visit is productive. This typically applies to monthly examinations so that the vet can check if your cats are in good health.

  • Write down a list of all the questions you wish to ask the vet so that you do not forget any questions when you get there.
  • Provide your vet with a complete list of all the treats, foods, human scraps, medications, and supplements your cat is currently on.
  • If you notice any issues in your cat’s behavior and mobility, video record them at home doing this behavior and take the video with to show the vet.
  • If you are concerned about your cat’s litter box use, bring urine and fecal sample with to ask your vet to run tests.

8. Pay attention to weight and habit changes.

Changes in your senior cat’s weight and eating habits can be a cause for concern, especially if it is sudden. Rapid weight loss in a short amount of time can be an indication of an underlying health problem. Senior cats may also develop dental problems that prevent them from eating properly which can also contribute to weight loss. Write down these changes in your senior cat to prevent to the vet as soon as possible. Dental problems can often be rectified, and your senior cat will feel comfortable eating again.

old calico cat lying on the couch
Image Credit: Stiva Urban, Shutterstock

9. Look out for signs of pain and discomfort.

Cats are masters at hiding any signs of pain and discomfort they may be feeling. If there are any sudden changes in their behavior such as sleeping patterns, energy levels, eating, and litter box usage. If your cat has problems with mobility like stiff joints and pain when moving, your senior cat may be experiencing some degree of pain.

Arthritis is a common condition in most older cats. Your vet will help you formulate a treatment plan to help relieve some of the discomfort cats with arthritis will experience. You will also want to change the litter box and feeding area to make it easily accessible for your cat as they will not want to jump or struggle to do basic tasks.

10. Make the environment senior cat friendly.

Senior cats are fragile and need extra attention when it comes to their environment. You want to ensure that it is comfortable for them, which means they should easily be able to find their litter box, water fountain, food bowl, and bed. All without having to climb or walk far to reach these items.

  • Slightly raise your cat’s food and water fountain so that cats with arthritis do not have to bend.
  • Add extra warmth and protection near the senior cats’ sleeping area. This makes it more comfortable for them, especially if they suffer from bodily pains. In winter you may want to use pet heating mats with thick blankets on top to ensure that the cat does not get chilled.
  • Regularly groom your senior cat and keep the nails from becoming overgrown. Sometimes the nails of arthritic cats grow into paw pads which is painful.
  • Keep a calm and consistent routine in the household to avoid stressing your senior cat with constant changes.
cat sleeping under the sheets
Image Credit: Kate Stone Matheson, Unsplash


What Are the Signs Your Cat Is Getting Old?

Some of the most common signs that your cat is becoming older are:

Some of the most common signs that your cat is becoming older are:
  • Vision loss
  • Bad breath
  • Changes in temperament
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Increased vocalization
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased mobility
  • Weight loss
  • Coat deterioration

How Old Is a Geriatric Cat?

Most breeds of cats are considered elderly once they reach 11 years of age. This is when their body begins to slow down, and they display the typical symptoms of old age. Since some cats can live till 20 years, you may not notice your cats’ aging symptoms until they are 14 years old.

It can be concluded that the determining age for a geriatric cat is between 11 to 14 years. However, each cat differs, and some are better at hiding their aging than others.

What Can You Expect From an Elderly Cat?

You should mainly expect behavior changes. Aging cats will hunt less and not be as eager to explore. Their energy levels decrease, and they will spend more time lying around the house and sleeping. Your elderly cat may also become a fussy eater and refuse foods they used to love, which can lead to weight changes. Elderly cats tend to be more vocal and less keen to play or groom.

They also tend to become insecure as they age which can make them more dependent on you.

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