Caring old cats with love
This article we write a little bit about old cat care, or how to take care of an older cat. The American Association of feline practitioners defines older cats as or geriatric cats as anyone over the age of eight or nine years old Naturally.
This is a pretty broad definition since if we’d like to see cats live to be about 20 But it is the time in their life when various health conditions start cropping up and it’s a good time to start giving them a bit of extra love.
The American Association of feline practitioners also recommends doing blood and urine testing on cats every year after the age of eight Why? Well, it’s because on blood and urine testing you can identify diseases often years before the cat looks sick.
Obviously, that is the best time to intervene If you find early signs of disease, you can diagnose it. You can manage it, and the cat might not even know that it’s sick and you can have a much better outcome.
Much more cost-effective outcomes than if you wait for two or three years till they’re already quite decrepit down the road, they’re suffering and treatment becomes much more challenging and expensive and Remember indoor cats get only old-person diseases hypertension, dental disease, obesity, kidney disease, heart disease.
Most Common Illnesses in Senior Cats
|Arthritis||Arthritic cats often become less active, sleep more, and may not be able to access perches and other elevated surfaces any longer.
|Hyperthyroidism||Hyperthyroidism is a disease of the thyroid gland in which excessive amounts of thyroid hormone are produced. Hyperthyroid cats display weight loss despite an increased, sometimes even ravenous, appetite.|
|Diabetes mellitus||Diabetes results in an increased blood glucose level. Risk factors for cats diabetes include being overweight and leading a inactive in cats. Most cats diagnosed with diabetes will require insulin injections.|
|Chronic renal (kidney) disease||Basically, the kidneys act as a filter system, removing many of the waste things produced by cat’s body. When the kidneys are damaged, the waste no longer filtered effectively, leading to a increase of these waste in cat’s blood flow.|
|Heart disease||One of the most commonly seen in cats is cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. Heart disease is congestive heart failure, or CHF, in which the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively and efficiently.|
|Dental disease||Dental disease is a painful disease that can affect your cat’s appetite and cause weight loss.|
|Cancer||Cancer are many types that can affect cats. Symptoms will depend on the type cancer involved.|
None of this stuff is very obvious to owners at home. But it’s all things that veterinarians are trained at identifying and bloodwork and urinalysis are our main tools for picking these things up early and dealing with them effectively.
Grooming Old Cat
So as cats age they often develop arthritis and the most common sites where they develop arthritis is in the back, neck, and elbows. Often the way we see this is clinically, or at home is as a reluctance to groom.
We think most people who live in older cats probably have noticed that as your cat ages the fur along the back starts looking a little greasier. We start seeing a little bit of dandruff building up and that’s because the cats, as they age, their back gets a little bit less flexible.
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They can’t reach around and groom themselves as effectively as they could when they were younger. Another reason why cats might not groom themselves, very well is a weakness. Certainly, if they have a medical condition that causes muscular weakness It can certainly reduce grooming itself as well.
Sometimes when they don’t feel very well they’ll groom less. So, what can we do at home beside the obvious treating of the medical condition? To groom our older cats a little bit more, but we have to be rather careful with grooming.
If they are suffering any pain around the back certainly, we don’t want to irritate it and make them kind of snappy and unhappy or uncomfortable.
How to grooming it?
When you groom it. Start at the front and avoid the bony bits along his spine along his back.
Turn it around a little bit and avoid its spine and then groom either side of it.
Brush its other side. Starting nicely and high, starting up in its flanks. Try to get right down into the lumbar area.
Avoiding running the brush right down the middle of his back. Brush him sort of just on either side of the spine. So that’s pretty much the whole message in the area was grooming.
When you’re grooming an older cat try to avoid the bony protuberances. Which do stick out and can be a little bit uncomfortable? Be aware that it may have a little bit of back or neck pain. So, if it’s if they’re showing particular signs of discomfort brushing a certain area.
You may want to avoid it, or you may want to take them to your veterinarian and see if maybe there could be a benefit for some painkillers. But you can keep their coat nice and shiny. That really helps it with their self-grooming. It makes sure to make it feel better as well.
Just by paying a little bit of attention to those hard to reach areas around the back of the body if you have a longer-haired cat it will also help to reduce the number of hair mats that they form which can often be a big issue for older cats.
They can form really bad mats at its back. Don’t use scissors to cut them out. If a cat with an ellipse of skin missing somewhere on the flanks or bottom the cat’s bleeding like crazy. That’s because a cat’s skin is mobile and if you lift up hair math and try to trim it with scissors.
You’re just take off a little ellipse of skin. Better you use electric clippers to cut out the mats, so you can certainly do that at home if you have a pair of electric clippers. But we really warn people not to use scissors to remove hair mats from any cat.
You can use electric clippers to clip those out, or just regular daily brushing to prevent them from forming.
Feeding Old Cat
A little trick that is very useful for encouraging older cats to eat. Cats age it’s really common for them to develop arthritis in either the neck or the elbows and when that gets a little more severe.
It can actually impact the cat’s ability to get down to their food dish if it is on the ground because when cats eat off the ground it squat extend its neck down and this can be really uncomfortable.
When they have arthritis in the neck or elbow joints. So by elevating the food up a few inches off the floor. Where will it encourage the cats to eat and will eat a bit more it’ll help them maintain their body condition? It’s body weight which is a really positive thing for an older cat.
You know a good bodyweight good muscle condition is actually correlated with survival in a number of old cat diseases.
Getting cats to eat particularly when it has cancer or when cats have kidney disease can be a real challenge.
How to encourage your cats to eat specifically through geriatric cats. A little bit of an elevation like that will really make it much more comfortable for cats to eat. Encourage appropriate food intake.
Cats dry food versus wet food.
The different kinds of food are wet versus dry as it pertains to older cats in general terms we don’t really care. Whether you feed your cat with food or kibble. If the young and healthy probably doesn’t make much difference certainly.
We encourage people to feed their cats with a variety of different foods. Particularly when they’re less than a year age when they’re kittens just so they don’t get food addicted or addicted to a certain flavor texture because that can be really annoying later in life.
When you’re trying to get cats to eat a therapeutic diet for whatever health condition, they have. But once cats get up over the age of 10 or so we typically recommend transitioning them on to wet foods so we can diet.
The reason for that is that dehydration plays a major element in many old cat diseases. So hyperthyroidism, renal disease, diabetes, all these conditions are worsened by dehydration.
On the off chance, your cat develops one of these between vet visits. If it is eating wet food, they’re more likely to be better hydrated. It’s a slight protective effect for older cat health and skittles insurance policy.
The other advantage to wet food is on average any cat that’s fed wet food will be lighter than the same cat fed dry food that’s because wet food typically has fewer calories per gram so. Because obesity can be quite a common issue and quite a common challenge in older cats.
Feeding with food has some value in that just that it helps them be a little bit lighter it keeps from getting into too chubby.
So, there’s some benefit to that most definitely and a lot of people worry about leaving wet food out. Usually, very we are comfortable with leaving wet food out for 24 hours at a time it does change color typically a little bit with oxidation kind of like hot dogs.
If you open them the package they’ll change color. But it doesn’t get any less tasty or healthy because of it then unless it’s very hot that probably won’t go off in just a day probably wouldn’t leave it out more than 24 hours.
Bedding an older cat
Cats get older arthritis is quite common they typically lose a little bit of mobility. It gets a little harder for them to get up to places they used to jump to before. They can experience some discomfort when lying on the hard surfaces.
One way we can help them with that is by making sure they have lots of very soft well-padded cat beds around at the levels that can reach which is usually means ground level.
They might not be able to get up there anymore as they get older and develop weakness or arthritis in their legs it may hurt them jumping down from places. So, it’s really good to provide lots of soft places for them to sleep.
It also helped with their joints or views certain joint pain one little trick that many cats specialists recommend is getting an electric heat blanket and putting it underneath the cat beds so in the cat lays on there.
It’s nice and warms they will love you for it to help keep their joints a little bit more comfortable as they get a little older. A simple small thing that makes a huge difference to their comfort in their later years.
In the same layer, another thing you can do around the house gets little stepping stools like a footstool or something along those lines that will help. If you like if your cat likes to hang out on the couch hanging out on the bed.
If you like them to hang out there with you just get little foot’s tools that help them go up in gradual increments because they may not be able to jump as high as they used to. But they may still be able to jump to something like a tree or wall and want to hang out with you on an elevated surface.
You probably know cats love being up high and being able to look down on us or get up to view they can look out the window. Creating a stepping stool really helps them get up there and enjoy life even when they’re a little bit older.
So, a small simple thing but it makes a huge difference to cats as they age.
There is some guidance that may valuable for you to help your senior cat pet so that cat does at your home by yourself to caring for it as well.
We are also thank you to Helpful Vancouver Pet for this guidance.