The life-expectancy of a cat varies greatly between different breeds. Breed related health issues and other risk factors also have an impact on their life expectancy. Then there is the level of care and the cat’s’ lifestyle that also plays a huge part in their lifespan, and this is where you (the owner) comes in.
We all want the best for our cats, but as they age it’s easy to forget that older cats require a little bit of extra attention. Obviously keeping a cat healthy throughout their lives is the important part. But in this article I’m going to highlight some things you can do with older cats in particular.
If you’re taking on an elderly cat some of these points will be very important to you. These elderly cat care tips and advice will proven very helpful. If you have had your cat for it’s entire life you’ll be very familiar with their medical history and can tailor their care as necessary.
A lot of cats still retain their agility and can be playful and jump around into their teens, which can lead us to forget just how old they are. A cat that’s 16 years old is around 80 in human years.
So while we don’t see 80 year old humans jumping over walls and running around, you should consider your cat at the same risk of certain health issues.
Understand Your Breed of Cat
You should do your research into your breed of cat to be aware of any potential health issues. For example, it’s well-known that mixed breed cats like moggies often benefit from their mixed genetics. They usually live long lives and are relatively healthy, at least from the breed specific problems.
Breed specific health issues are all too common unfortunately. Siamese cats are prone to kidney problems, and a lot will need some medication or care in their later years. If you have a crossbreed it’s worth being informed about both sides of their lineage.
There is a lot of information online, and of course you can visit your local vet to get clued up. Knowing what the potential symptoms may be and acting fast will make all the difference to your cat’s quality of life.
Feed Your Cat an Appropriate Diet
It’s incredibly important to feed your cat the right type of food. Cats have complex needs when it comes to nutrition and there are certain foods they cannot live without.
Putting some thought into what your cat needs and should be eating should come before finding what’s on offer. Feeding a cat good quality food can have a marked impact on their standard of living.
It can help avoid illness and in the long run you can save more money on vets bills than you save cutting corners on food. That’s one positive way to look at it. Canned food is generally better than dry food for a number of reasons;
- Dry food lacks water content.
- Carbohydrates are generally higher in dry food.
- Typically offer less overall nutrition.
A lot of owners prefer dry food because it can be left out throughout the day without spoiling. But having a good feeding routine needn’t mean your cat can’t eat some wet food, and they generally won’t leave it if you’re feeding the correct amount anyway.
This isn’t to say you can’t use dry food. But find a balance, and lean towards more wet canned food than dry overall. Also pay attention to the age of cat the food is marketed to. Nutritional requirements change as cats age, there are foods produced for different ages.
Check Your Cat Regularly for Anything Abnormal
You should check your cat over for anything abnormal or different. You can easily do this when you’re fussing or stroking your cat. It doesn’t need to be intrusive, just a brief stroke and consciously being aware of anything different.
Cats are good at masking pain and will often just want to be alone when they are in pain. So if you aren’t seeing them as often maybe this is the case. Likewise, if they make a noise or run off when you touch a certain area, this might be a reflection of there being some pain.
Keep on top of any fleas or parasites too. Flea treatment should be part of your regular routine anyway through, collars, sprays, and pipettes.
Make Sure Your Cat Gets Enough Exercise and Isn’t Overweight
Modern cats are lazy. There isn’t much room for debate here. As soon as they are in adulthood they will eat and sleep almost as much as you will allow them too. I’m sure everyone reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about.
This is even more relevant to indoor cats. If you have an indoor cat you must make time to play with them. Keep an eye on their weight too, it should be fairly obvious if your pet is overweight, don’t ignore it. Take them to the vets for a proper weighing and see what diet foods are available.
Cats rely on having explosive, fast-twitch muscles. Being overweight puts a lot of stress on their joints and muscles that they aren’t accustomed to. It can be seriously dangerous to their health, and will make outdoor cats more vulnerable to injury.
Don’t Skip Your Kitty Vaccinations
It’s important kittens get their booster vaccinations from a vet. Then there are annual boosters to keep them safe from a range of all too common diseases. The most common routine vaccinations include;
- Feline infectious enteritis.
- Feline Herpes Virus.
- Feline Calicivirus.
Your vet will be best placed to advise you on which vaccinations you pet needs and how often you will have to have boosters. When owning a new cat you should always register them with your vet. They will keep a record of treatments that is a lot more reliable than your memory.
Treat Your Cat for Worms and Fleas Regularly
Unfortunately worms are impossible to prevent, but they can be treated. Kittens should be treated with creams and syrups, this are the easiest methods as kittens are a lot more difficult than adult cats.
Treatments are typically every 3-4 weeks to begin with, then spread out across several months. Always check the product instructions carefully as different products offer different treatment schedules.
Fleas can be kept under control with a good flea collar, and a pipette treatment to their neck as directed. These are often every few months too once you are on top of a good schedule. It’s not as often or as difficult as some people assume, I don’t find it difficult at all.
If you have any concerns or questions always consult your vet.
Don’t Put off a Visit to the Vet for Any Reason
Talking about consulting a vet, this brings me onto a topic that often surprises me. I hear endless stories of people avoiding taking their cat to a vet for a number of reasons, such as; too busy, concerned about the cost, not having an appointed vet, thinking their cat will heal soon.
There are no good reasons for not taking your cat to the vet if there is anything you’re concerned about. I bet you don’t put off going to the doctor if you have a health issue, so why would it be any different with your pet?
As cat owners we are responsible for their care. Yes, they are animals and there is an element of natural instinct and survival in them, but they are now domesticated pets in our care.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. So if you think your cat is in pain, if there is anything unusual or abnormal, book an appointment at the vets as soon as possible. Caring for elderly cats is serious and should never be put off.
Keep Your Cat’s Life as Stress Free as Possible
Stress takes a toll on all of us, cats are on different. In fact, cats often internalize and deal with stress a lot worse than we do. It’s hard for them to vocalize and find a way to deal with it, so we can do our part by giving them a stress free life.
Triggers for stress in cats include;
- Dealing with other cats or animals in the home.
- Moving locations.
- Being bullied by other cats in the neighborhood.
- Having their sleep disturbed.
Your cat should have a nice warm and quiet place in the home to sleep and relax without the worry of being disturbed. This means you need to make sure children and other pets can’t creep up on them there and disturb them.
They should have a clean and quiet area for their litter box. As well as a separate location for feeding and fresh water. If you have any elderly cat care tips and advice to share, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.