Senior Cat Care: Enhancing the Golden Years
There are some cats that appear young and are very healthy into their late teens, while other cats show signs of aging from six or seven years of age. Scottsdale Cat Clinic recommends regular veterinary checkups and some simple changes in the home to improve senior cats’ lives and increase their life span.
Common Senior Cat Health Issues
Senior cats are more likely to experience multiple medical problems, which tend to be chronic and progressive. Typical diseases we see in older cats include:
- Chronic kidney insufficiency and failure
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes mellitus
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Dental disease
- Behavior problems
Senior Cat Wellness Exams
Many symptoms of illness can be vague and easy to miss in cats, so we recommend your cat is examined at least every six months. Regular blood and urine testing will help our team establish a normal baseline and to look for changes in the body systems and X-rays may be recommended to check for arthritis.
Blood work—Regular blood work gives us a base line of your cat’s normal blood chemistry and helps us detect subtle changes in organ function over time. We recommend:
- One complete blood work up in the cat’s early years
- Blood work every other year after the cat turns 7 years of age
- Blood work every year after the cat turns 12 years of age
What You Can Do at Home
Some easy changes you can make in your home can greatly improve your cat’s comfort and life quality:
- Provide soft, comfortable beds in favorite places. Heating devices can soothe stiff joints.
- Make resting areas easily accessible—low to the ground or accessible by ramp.
- Provide hiding places where your cat will not be disturbed by children, other pets, or loud noises.
- Provide large litter boxes with low sides on each floor of the house. Mound the litter in the center if the cat is arthritic and has difficulty getting into position to eliminate.
- Use soft, light litter that is easy to dig in and stand on.
- Regularly groom your cat, including trimming his or her nails.
- Encourage increased water intake by providing canned food and adding water to the food if needed. Provide wide, shallow water dishes filled to the top and in multiple locations. Flavor the water with tuna or chicken broth.
- Offer smaller, more frequent meals. If the cat is not eating well, warm the food and offer various foods. Make any diet changes gradually and feed in wide, shallow bowls in a quiet environment. Petting can encourage some cats to eat better.
- Handle your cat gently in case there is pain due to arthritis or other disease.
- Feed a high-quality senior cat food in amounts that will maintain your cat’s ideal weight.
For more information on caring for your senior cat, please read our Senior Cat Care handout.
If you have any additional questions about your senior cat’s condition or if you notice changes in your cat’s behavior, please contact our veterinary team.