CARING FOR YOUR AGING CAT

by Janet Blue on August 1, 2017

Cats Are Living Longer

As more and more humans are keeping their cats indoors and providing healthier food, cats are living longer. It is no longer unusual for a cat to live for 20 years. This does mean, however, that they are likely to suffer from some age-related illnesses.

As most of you know, Lily Olivia is a senior citizen. In fact, in human years, she’s about 88 years old. That’s two decades older than I am, and I’m older than dirt.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive post with everything you need to know about your aging cat and how to care for him. I will provide resources at the end of the post where you can find additional information. Please remember: Your vet should be contacted if you are noticing health issues with your cat. Don’t try to diagnose and treat your cat based on information from the internet, including this post. 

What to Expect as Your Cat Ages

As your cat ages you can expect some changes. Your cat

  • may sleep more. √
  • may experience a change in sleep patterns. √
    • Lily has always slept during the night when we sleep, but I now find, if I wake up at night, she is awake and staring at me.
  • may get cold more easily and seek out warm places to sleep. √
    • Providing your older cat with a heated bed or a bed placed in a sunny window may help keep your cat comfortable.
  • develop age-related diseases. √
    • Lily has a small degree of kidney disease, which was discovered during her most recent blood panel.  (Keeping this in mind, your vet may recommend twice yearly exams for your senior pet in an attempt to catch problems in the early stages.)
  • become cranky and irritable. √
    • Actually, Lily Olivia has always been a grump, but this trait has increased with age. She wants what she wants and will not be dissuaded.

These are issues with which Lily Olivia is dealing. Many more exist that she may develop or that your cat may be experiencing, such as:

  • FCD (Feline Cognitive Disorder), which is similar to dementia in humans.
  • hearing or vision loss.
  • arthritis and stiffening of joints.
    • This is a major problem in cats. You may notice your cat doesn’t want to be picked up, can no longer jump up on the cat tree, has problems entering and exiting the litter box or getting into those yoga-positions that allow him to groom properly. To assist your kitty, try adding some portable steps to the cat tree, bed or wherever she spends her time. A litter box with low sides also is a good idea. Regular brushing and wet-wipes can assist kitty with grooming.

The Importance of Baseline Bloodwork

If you don’t have a baseline for measuring any changes in your cats health, it is important to setup an appointment with your veterinarian. Many vets suggest baseline bloodwork at about age seven, but if your cat has been having yearly exams and vaccines and is in generally good health, your vet may wait until age ten, as our vet did. These tests will detect any early-stages of

  • anemia
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • infection
  • inflammation
  • diseases of the heart, intestines, kidneys, liver, pancreas and thyroid.

With most of these diseases, especially hyperthyroidism, which is very common in older cats, your feline will show signs of weight loss. Don’t ignore this as just a sign of your cat’s senior status, but get your beloved companion to the vet a soon as possible. Weight loss at any age (unless your cat has been placed on a restricted diet), should not be ignored.

If weight loss is the result of the normal aging process or even disease, your vet may suggest a nutritional supplement as well as a vitamin supplement.

Some General and Important Tips

And don’t forget the fresh water. Like Lily Olivia, your aging cat most likely will have some degree of kidney disease. A fountain is a great idea as are water bowls in various areas of your house. If you feed only a dry food, introduce some canned food to add moisture to your cat’s diet.

Please remember to play with your older feline, adapting play time to your cat’s level of mobility. Don’t forget mental stimulation as well, like a bird feeder outside the window.

Senior cats, like older people, tend to become set in their ways and prefer predictability and normal routines. Most cats do not like or adapt to change well, and this is especially true in your older feline. Your elderly cat may want to be left alone or may become more demanding of your attention, just as Lily Olivia has with us. Cherish this time with your senior citizen feline. It is the care, love, proper medical treatment and good diet you have provided through his lifetime that has given both of you these extra years of companionship.

As your reward for making it to the end of this post, our resident senior citizen wanted to share this photo. Unlike her usual behavior of sitting on my lap with her paws on the trackpad, this is what Lily Olivia was doing while I wrote this post.

 

Senior citizen cat Lily Olivia prefers to snooze in this box.

 

Sources

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/CW_older.cfm
http://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/care/how-your-cats-behavior-may-change-age
http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/7-common-health-problems-in-senior-cats
http://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/aging-cats-qa#1
“Caring for Your Senior Cat,” Antech Diagnostics, © 2007

Share this:

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

katie Isabella August 3, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Mommy said she keeps hoping that the comment section will recognize me, Katie, but it doesn’t. We always type in the whole thing. Must be a server thing.

Robin and Admiral were our oldest and Admiral was the most ill. Robin passed of CRF. Robin was 16 (late 90’s) and Admiral was 14.

Reply

Kitty Cat Chronicles August 3, 2017 at 10:49 am

This is a great and informative post! We don’t have any senior kitties yet, but we do have a 17-year-old Lucy dog! She has her share of age-related issues that we do our best to help her with. And though Delilah isn’t a senior, she does experience joint pain and arthritis in her back knees due to her luxating patellas. That is something we will have to keep an eye on and help her with forever. Thanks for these great tips! Going to be sharing!
Sampy sends 89347562938457092374 kisses to Astrid, and we all send love and hugs!
Kitty Cat Chronicles recently posted…The Best Ways to Treat Cerebellar HypoplasiaMy Profile

Reply

MrJackFreckles/Pipo/Angel-Minko/ August 2, 2017 at 2:17 am

This is a great post, full of good info. We had a good giggle at Lily Olivia in the shoe box,MOL!!! Just the right size! She sure did look comfy!
MrJackFreckles/Pipo/Angel-Minko/ recently posted…Minko Memorial Post, With Selfies From Pipo & MrJackFrecklesMy Profile

Reply

Ruby August 1, 2017 at 11:09 pm

Oh what a FABulous postie! I’m no kitteh, butts I am a *cough, cough* a ‘senior’, so most of these thingies apply to MOI too. Ma says especially the grumpy part! BOL! or, should I say, I’m more pushy than grumpy, butts I do give Ma the stink-eye more often, cause everything IS her fault, after all….☺
Kisses,
Ruby ♥

Reply

meowmeowmans August 1, 2017 at 11:05 pm

Great information, Mom Janet. Like Lily Olivia, Gracie and Zoe are both 15 years old now, and Zoe has a number of health issues we’re helping her with. It’s tough sometimes, but regular senior wellness checkups and blood panels are super important.
meowmeowmans recently posted…Sunday Selfies – RoommatesMy Profile

Reply

William's Kith & Kin August 1, 2017 at 9:37 pm

What a great post, and timely, too–Caroline is about 17 and requires more “specialized” attention from our mom and vet than the rest of us (although Mom secretly calls her the Durable Cat). She is as spry and vocal as ever but her age is definitely catching up to her.
William’s Kith & Kin recently posted…Izzy’s Bits.My Profile

Reply

Raven August 1, 2017 at 8:31 pm

Great tips for caring for a senior kitty. So far, the oldest any of my cats has made it is 16. He had slight kidney disease, but something went wrong neurologically and we had to put him to sleep. The others all developed some form of cancer. Making good observations of their at-home behavior and keeping up on vet visits is so important….at all ages.
Raven recently posted…Cat postage stamps from Great BritainMy Profile

Reply

Eastside Cats August 1, 2017 at 6:51 pm

I pray that our Chucky lives to be the same age or older than Lily Olivia, as well as Angel. He’s 13 now, and his heart isn’t 100%. But maybe with The Hubby giving him his meds like clockwork, we’ll squeeze more years out of him!

Reply

The Island Cats August 1, 2017 at 4:50 pm

We’re all getting older here…so this is excellent information. The mom makes sure we get bloodwork done at least once a year if not more (lately Wally has had his done more times than he can count) to make sure if there are any issues, they are caught early.

Reply

mommakatandherbearcat August 1, 2017 at 3:18 pm

This is great information. It seems to me that vets are a bit behind in adjusting their recommendations based on age (one big example … the age equivalent chart – most still use the chart that makes a 10-12 year old cat seem 80+ in humans terms). When Bear turned 7, I started yearly blood panels on him – and I will next year with Ellie too when she turns 7. Especially with cats being so good at hiding when they don’t feel well – it gives me peace of mind. It frustrates me to no end that our cats can’t communicate in words when they’re hurting – like with arthritis – and we’re left trying to listen to the subtle ways they might be communicating that.

Reply

Deziz World August 1, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Great posty. Big hugs

Luv ya’

Dezi and Raena
Deziz World recently posted…Service Cats: Fighting or Posturing: Introducing CatsMy Profile

Reply

da tabbies o trout towne August 1, 2017 at 12:19 pm

lily; we could all hope ta look az grate at 18 ~~~~~ N we bet maru iz
way gel uz oh yur box !! 🙂 ♥♥

Reply

Brian Frum August 1, 2017 at 10:02 am

Great information! Our two senior seniors Kit and Precious struggle with the aging thing more often these days.
Brian Frum recently posted…Tabby Tuesday: I Discovered the Cubby Hideaway PlaceMy Profile

Reply

Ellen Pilch August 1, 2017 at 9:18 am

Excellent post! Phoebe is pretty much deaf now and has stage 2 kidney disease. She also is awake more at night which is when she prefers to eat so anytime she meows, I get up and give her food. Lily Olivia is a pretty girl, she doesn’t look 18. XO
Ellen Pilch recently posted…Tubby TuesdayMy Profile

Reply

The Menagerie Mom August 1, 2017 at 8:12 am

I have such a fondness for geriatrics, and this is such a wonderful post about these special kitties. My calico angel Rosie made it to 21, and in her older years, when she required far more care, our bond just grew more and more. Lily Olivia, you are another calico cougar who is a real beauty!
The Menagerie Mom recently posted…Tuesday Taste Test (#ChewyInfluencer)My Profile

Reply

Linda Arthur Tejera August 1, 2017 at 7:42 am

Good information. Lily Olivia looks well. I feel we may have just found a new vet (new to us) who is more interested in keeping the furrbabies healthy than her bottom line. We just learned that Nicky, our diabetic 10 year old, has borderline kidney failure and borderline immune deficiency. She is treating both and we go back in two weeks. But he is already looking better and looking like he’s feeling better in just a few days of her alternative meds! She uses both Eastern and Western medicine. Fingers crossed. Our oldest (16) is doing quite well — so far! As are the rest of the herd!
Linda Arthur Tejera recently posted…Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Fire Trucks, Fire Houses, Fire HydrantsMy Profile

Reply

Teddy August 1, 2017 at 5:56 am

Angel Sammy almost made it to 17 but that last year was tough on him and on my Mom and Dad…..he was trying so hard to stay and they were trying so hard to help him do that. Great tips though – I’ve hopefully got a lot of years before some of those things show up but I’m hoping Lily Olivia and ALL her fellow KB Krew members have long and happy lives…….”happily ever after” sounds good to me!

Love, Teddy
Teddy recently posted…Shopping Around The WorldMy Profile

Reply

Summer August 1, 2017 at 2:19 am

I don’t think Binga and Boodie realize they are old! But my human makes sure they get senior blood work ups at least once a year, and sometimes more often. And while they are both a little more stiff than they used to be, they are still jumping on everything they shouldn’t.

Boodie is 16 and Binga will be 17 this month.
Summer recently posted…A Typical Therapy Cat DayMy Profile

Reply

Lone Star Cats August 1, 2017 at 2:03 am

We’re all young here, but we had a kitty almost make 21. Jezebel experienced a lot of these things – the one interesting thing wuz that she became sweeter and more of a lap kitty as she got older (she’d always liked my momma, but had been kind of a stinker in her younger years to some people).
Lone Star Cats recently posted…Sunday SelfiesMy Profile

Reply

Meows, purrs, hugs and MOLs are greatly appreciated. Please no hissing, spitting or scratching unless you want one of us to whap you!

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: