Senior Cat Care
A cat is considered a senior cat from the ages of 7-10 years old. During this time their health can begin to change and it is important to know how to care for your cat appropriately. Kali-Ma is celebrating her nine-year-old birthday very soon. In honor of that, here are the 9 tips for senior cat care.
Time goes by so quickly. It seems like only a few years ago Kali-Ma was that one-year-old little rascal that rescued me. I treasure every day I spend with her and take every preventative measure to ensure that she has a long and healthy life. These tips are based on my experience as a cat owner for over thirty years.
1. Schedule Regular Vet Visits
See your veterinarian at least once a year, and twice a year if your cat is experiencing any health issues. Always get a CBC (complete blood count) and compare it to your last blood draw. Go over the results with your vet. You will want to look for any significant changes.
Remember that cats are masters at hiding illnesses. CBC counts can detect early signs of kidney disease and many other treatable illnesses if they are detected early. This is why it is important to establish a CBC count when your cat is healthy, so they have a comparison.
It is also a good idea to have a relationship with your veterinarian, especially as your cat ages. Remember that six months in cat years is the equivalent of two years for a human. A lot can change in six months as cats age. It is easier for you and your cat if you have a vet that you know and trust.
2. Watch the Litter Box
Your cat’s litter box says a lot about their health. Any changes in the size of their urine or stool could be a warning. Their urine should be the size of a small golf ball. See photo. If your cat’s urine clumps begin to change then take them in for a checkup. Please also see my article on Tips for Cat Litter for further details.
Also, if your cat stops using the box, going outside the box, or any other litter box behavior changes this is another major warning sign. It is better to go to the vet and have kitty checked out than to face a serious undetected illness later.
If your cat is older and having trouble using the box, choose a box that is low to the ground or use one that has steps! I recently found a new box that Kali-Ma loves with steps inside of it for her. It’s called a “Petmate Booda Dome”. You can purchase it at the link below.
3. Monitor Your Cats’ Diet and Weight
Pay attention to the amount of food you feed your cat and when. Just like you watch the litter box, watch the food dish. Review with your vet the best food and feeding practice for your kitty.
I feed Kali-Ma dehydrated cat food. You can read more about this food choice here: https://www.tailsofkalima.com/5-reasons-to-feed-your-cat-dehydrated-cat-food/
As cats age, it is especially critical for them to maintain a moisture-rich diet. If you do not choose a dehydrated food, then the next best choice is a high-grade grain free wet food plan.
Any major changes in your cats’ weight at a senior age is serious, and if you notice changes, a trip to the vet is the best practice. Your cat should be at the ideal weight that you and your vet agree on.
4. Clean Your Cats’ Teeth
Yes, you can and it is easier than you thought! Please read my article here Cat Dental Care for a simple way to do this brush free! It is important to use a feline preventative dental program with your cat so that your cat can stay healthy and keep all its teeth. If your cat’s teeth go bad then they won’t eat and they can get very sick.
5. Water, Water, Water
As cats get older it becomes more important than ever that they drink enough water. If you have a 10lb cat, they should be consuming between 7-9 ounces of water each day. If they don’t drink enough kidney, urinary tract and other health issues could begin, especially in senior cats.
I firmly believe in the pet water fountain. I have had one for Kali-Ma since I adopted her. The stainless steel models last the longest and are the easiest to clean and maintain. Kali-Ma likes the constant running water and she drinks plenty of filtered water every day. Water from the sink, the toilet, and other places are not appropriate for your cat. If you wouldn’t drink it then don’t give it to your cat.
6. Groom Your Cat
I have “spa” on Saturday mornings with Kali-Ma. I trim her nails, brush her with the Furminator brush (that gets her undercoat of hair), clean her outer ears and make sure there is no stool stuck to her fur around her bottom. You may notice that as your cat gets old it requires assistance with some of its grooming. At the very least keep your cats’ coat brushed and nails trimmed. This is also a good way to keep an eye out for any changes in your cats’ body that may otherwise go undetected. Such as skin irritations, etc. We all need a little help sometimes! 🙂
7. Prepare For Your Cat’s Needs Changing
Your cat may not fly across the room like it used to. Kali-Ma loves to run through her tunnel on the floor but sometimes she has trouble jumping up high on her tall cat scratcher. So, I got her some pet steps. She loves them!
She also has a litter box with a low entrance. It is relatively easy for her to step in and out of. It is also very large and easy for her to maneuver around in. To make it easier for her to eat I provide her with an elevated pet feeder. This reduces the strain on her neck and is much less painful for older cats that have arthritis.
Some cats may need extra blankets or a special place they like to sleep. Kali-Ma sleeps on her old afghan, even on the hot summer days. Whatever she wants she gets as she more than deserves it!
8. Exercise and Stimulation
Your cat may not play like the mini cheetah it once was, but there are still ways you can promote exercise and stimulation. Kali-Ma and I enjoy a walk in the park while she rides in her stroller. Then, she will get out and walk on her leash. For those cats not leash trained, the stroller is a great way for them to enjoy the fresh air. I have complete instructions here Enjoying The Outdoors With Your Cat.
Kali-Ma also loves her tunnel. She runs through it and plays in it on her own all the time! We also use “catnip bubbles”. I found this a few weeks ago and they are a hoot! This is a cost-effective way to have hours of entertainment. You blow them like bubbles only they are catnip. She chases them all around the house.
Every cat will have a different toy or activity that it enjoys but it is important to keep your cat active. Kali-Ma is nine years old and I still take her all around town, she still volunteers with me, and she still has a very full life.
9. Enjoy Every Moment With Your Cat
Time is fleeting and cats are beloved precious beings. I look at Kali-Ma and although I can remember every major life event we have been through together, I struggle with how it is all going by so fast. I wake up every morning and thank God she is with me.
As your cat ages remember that they deserve the very best we can give them. They may be getting a little older, but they are still there beside you. Enjoy each day, each moment you share with them. They are a gift.
Kali-Ma and I were in church a few weeks ago and my minister looked over at her and said: “you are a perfect expression of God’s love”. I couldn’t have said it any better. I pray I have many many more years with her and that I have given her the best life possible on this earth, for she is the best part of me.
Until Next Time….Happy Tails To You!