On average, cats live longer than dogs. It’s not uncommon for them to enjoy a good quality of life well into their 20's and beyond.
If your cat is getting older, there are things you can do to make his life more enjoyable for him.
Grooming. Your older cat is susceptible to arthritis, just like dogs and people. A sore spine will make it difficult to for him to turn around and groom the fur on his back and sides. The hair can then become matted and uncomfortable. You will need to groom him more frequently to break down the mats and tangles. Another part of grooming him is checking his claws. As he gets older, he is less likely to scratch at trees or scratching poles to keep his nails in trim. If you notice his claws getting a bit long, give him a manicure to stop him getting caught in the carpet or, even worse, the claw growing round and penetrating his footpad.
Sleeping. You can expect your cat to doze more as he ages. Give him a soft, comfortable and warm place to sleep. He shouldn't need to climb or jump to get there but it should still be well out of the way of your household traffic. He may enjoy a heating pad in the colder months but make sure it only heats up half of his bed. That way he can move away if he gets too warm.
Toileting. If your cat uses a cat flap, he may find it more difficult to open as he becomes increasingly frail. Perhaps you could tie it open for him so he can get out easier. He will also appreciate a litter tray indoors as well because he may not have full control of his bladder and bowel and may not be able to hold on until he gets outside. Litter trays for your older cat should have shallow sides so he can step in and out easily.
Feeding. With age comes a reduction in the senses. Your older cat may not be able to smell or taste as well so he can lose interest in his food. To counteract this, feed a strong smelling food and warm it up a little in the microwave. Keep an eye out for dental disease that can make eating painful. Canned food is usually tastier than dry kibble and easier to eat, so it's the best choice for your feline senior citizen.
None of these take much time, effort or money, but they can make a significant difference to your elderly cat's well-being.
Article courtesy Dr Rosie Brown BVSc (Hons)
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