Our feline friends enter a new phase as they approach their senior years. While some may experience age-related challenges a bit earlier or later, recognising this stage and adjusting their care routine can significantly enhance the quality of their later years.
When are cats considered seniors?
Generally, cats are regarded as seniors once they reach 7 years of age, although some might face age-related challenges a tad earlier or later.
The journey into seniourhood for cats comes with some telltale signs. You might notice your cat isn’t leaping onto high shelves with the same zest, or perhaps they are napping a little more than usual.
Other signs include a decrease in appetite, weight changes, or even alterations in their grooming habits. It's essential to be observant and attuned to these shifts in behaviour and physical condition.
How to feed your senior cat
As cats age, their dietary needs naturally shift.
Cat's Protection provides useful advice on senior cats, along with dietary advice.
You'll also find many pet food brands have stepped up to formulate “senior” cat foods that align with the typical nutritional adjustments needed for older felines.
Of course, it's crucial to consult with your vet to tailor a diet that precisely meets the nutritional demands of your cat's senior status. Here are some basic tips to get started:
Trim down the calories if needed
As cats age, they might not zip around like they used to, leading to fewer calories burned. If your cat's started to sport a bit of a belly, speak with your vet. Obesity can result in a whole host of preventable health issues, such as diabetes.
Dealing with picky eaters
Dealing with the opposite issue—a cat with a diminished appetite? Speak with your vet if your cat's suddenly turning up their nose at their regular fare. It could be time to mix it up with new flavours, or it could point to a larger issue—say, dental problems that make chewing uncomfortable.
While most of the time, a high-quality pet food covers most of the nutrients your cat needs, some supplements can be beneficial for older cats. Your vet might have other supplement suggestions based on your cat's individual health scenario, so ask them first.
Always ask your vet
Are you noticing a theme yet? Chat with your vet to tailor a diet plan that suits your senior cat's unique needs.
Keep up with regular vet checks
A semi-annual check-up is a good rule of thumb to ensure your cat is ageing gracefully and healthily, but check with your vet for specifics. Cats with chronic health conditions might require more frequent visits.
Make your older cat's life more comfy
Creating a snug and accessible living environment is key to catering to your senior cat's needs. Here are some ways to get started:
Make sure their bed's in a warm, draft-free corner. Be careful about using electric blankets; they can be hazardous.
Opt for a low-sided litter box, and if your home has multiple levels, having a litter box on each floor can be a big help.
Consider installing cat stairs or ramps to help them reach their favourite spots without straining their joints.
Place night lights along their frequently used paths, which can help them navigate with ease after sunset, especially if their eyesight's diminished.
These little adjustments don't have to be expensive or time-consuming, but they can go a long way in helping your older cat thrive well into their senior years.
Keep your elderly cat active
Engaging your senior cat in playful activities helps keep their mind sharp and body active, despite the natural slowdown that comes with age. Here are some ways to keep them on their toes:
Opt for interactive toys like puzzle feeders or toys that mimic the movement of small animals to spark their curiosity and encourage gentle play.
Tailor play sessions to your cat's pace—short, gentle interactions with a feather wand or a soft ball rolled along the floor can entice movement and provide a fun diversion.
Add in cat trees or, if possible, create a secured outdoor enclosure or "catio"
Maintaining a regular play routine provides a structure that your cat can look forward to while also helping to manage their weight and keep their joints mobile.
Consider older cat insurance
As our feline friends age, vet bills can potentially skyrocket.
Buying pet insurance for your older cat can alleviate the financial strain* and ensure your cat receives the necessary care without delay.
Embarking on the journey of senior cat care might come with a few hurdles, but with the right approach, your elderly cat can enjoy a quality life filled with love, comfort, and dignity.
By adapting to their changing needs and ensuring you buy a great cat insurance policy, you're not just catering to their golden years; you're making them truly golden. And that's worth every penny.
*ManyPets analyses every claim on its own merits, subject to the terms and conditions of your policy. Exclusions apply, including those for pre-existing conditions. Only claims unrelated to an excluded treatment or condition are eligible for coverage.