Visits to the Vet
One of the most important things you can do for your cat is to take them to the vet for their routine visits. For seniors, this means every 6 months. Did you know that after the age of 2, just 1 year in a cat’s life is equal to about 4 “human” years? A lot can change in that amount of time!
Not to mention, cats are experts at hiding illnesses/injuries because they naturally mask them as a survival strategy for living in the wild. Unfortunately, that means your cat could have a serious medical problem but not show any signs of it until it has progressed to a more advanced stage. Thankfully, however, veterinarians are experts at detecting things that may seem invisible to the naked eye.
Make sure you pay attention to any small changes (i.e. appetite, litter box habits, weight loss or weight gain, meowing at night, increase or decrease in their level of activity, being more or less affectionate, hiding, stiffness, lumps or bumps, etc.) so that you can tell your veterinarian when you’re due for a visit. It’s easy to assume that changes like this are just old age, but many of them are actually signs that they should be checked out by your vet. As cats start to get older, problems like dental issues, arthritis, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, obesity, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, etc. start to emerge, and the earlier you find them, the greater the chances are that your cat will live longer with a much better quality of life.
Note: If you have trouble getting your cat into their carrier, then visit our article “I Can’t Get My Cat Into Their Carrier!” for some helpful tips.
Make sure that you are feeding your cat a healthy diet that takes into account any of their current conditions. Ask your vet for recommendations just in case your cat does have a condition that requires a special diet or supplements. Provide them with multiple places to drink water as well. Did you know that cats prefer for their food and water to be in separate locations (and far away from the litter box)?
Remember: Cats are carnivores, and in the wild they must hunt several times a day to stay healthy so it’s important to feed them small, frequent meals (in the right amounts!) that mimic their natural habits. Canned food is especially important for cats because they aren’t naturally inclined to drink much water. You can even try mixing a little bit of extra water into their canned food for added hydration.
It’s important to regularly trim your cat’s nails, especially as they start to age because they are more vulnerable to getting ingrown nails which can start growing into the pads of their paws and become quite painful.
Older cats aren’t able to groom themselves as well either so in addition to trimming their nails, gently brushing them on a regular basis can help prevent mats. If your cat has long fur and it’s difficult for them to keep themselves clean, then you might want to consider having the fur trimmed around their backside. Here at the clinic, we call it a sanitary clip.
Don’t forget that older cats need enrichment too! Try toys and puzzle feeders to help keep them active in addition to perches on your windows, scratching posts, extra quality time with you, etc. to help keep them happy.
Make sure your cat has easy access to basic needs (such as food, water, and the litter box), and provide them with lots of soft bedding so they have warm, comfortable places to rest.
If they have certain conditions, then you can help them with that as well. For example, if your cat has arthritis, then you can put steps or a ramp up to their favorite places or buy raised food and water bowls. Or, you can set up a night light for them to accommodate for any loss of sight and keep their essentials all in the same places so they always know where to find them.
Lastly, it can be more difficult for older cats to climb in and out of the litter box so make sure they have lower sides and are placed in areas that are easily accessible. You can even put a litter box on each floor of your home so they don’t have to climb stairs to get to it.
If you have any questions or concerns about your cat or if you would like to schedule an appointment, then we welcome you to give us a call at (503) 968-6000 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!