Indoor cats now have the life expectancy of 17 to 20 years if given the proper care. Typically beginning with physical changes, the feline kind age gradually, and can be in need of special care both physically and emotionally. These are the tips you need to take care of your geriatric kitty.
One of the first signs of an aging cat is her lowered energy levels. No longer as curious as she used to be, the geriatric feline will start to slow down, sleep more and move much more slowly than she did before. When she's no longer able to jump up on her favorite windowsill or higher places in the home, you can assist your elderly cat by creating less physically challenging obstacles for her. Find a lower cat tree or move a bench in front of the window so that she can better access her favorite spot without hurting herself. You can also accommodate your cat's needs by providing a more accessible litter box and food area.
As cats grow older, their skin starts to lose elasticity, which can result in greater fur loss and more hairballs. In addition, their skin may become irritated and have a foul odor. It's recommended that you brush their fur daily to avoid matting and excess hair. The regular brushing will also help stimulate blood flow, aiding in a healthier coat and skin.
Cats' nails are also likely to become brittle with age. Keep their claws trimmed regularly to prevent any painful breaks or hangnails.
Although it's recommended that your cat receive a good amount of exercise throughout her entire life, it's especially important in maturing felines. Since muscles can atrophy and bones lose their density, it's best to keep your cat moving to avoid age-related injuries. Take your cat on walks or engage in a bit of daily play to get her moving around and keep a good circulation of blood flowing through her body. Ensure that you're keeping an eye out for any exhaustion or over-exertion and always offer water to keep your kitty hydrated during this special time in her life.
Like humans, metabolism slows in cats as they grow older. Although middle age for some kitties, cats between the ages of 7 to 9 years will need a diet change to assist in lowering their risk of weight gain and diabetes. Veterinarian Dr. Ron Hines of 2nd Chance suggests feeding your senior cat a diet of wet cat food to assist in hydration and prevention of kidney and other serious diseases. However, since some cat owners prefer dry cat food, it's recommended that you look for a food that's high in protein to assist in muscle function and low in fat to avoid additional weight gain.
On the flip side, older cats may also begin to lose their appetite as they age, causing weight loss. For these cats, it's important to ensure that they're getting the proper nutrients in their body. Look for wet and dry food made especially for aging cats. Consult your veterinarian if you feel that the weight loss is rapid as your cat may be experiencing a serious medical condition.
Aside from physical needs, your cat will also need special emotional accommodations. Scared of aging and not having the ability to do what she did before, your cat may become more irritable and apprehensive. Ease her concerns by creating a comfortable environment. Avoid any changes in location or bringing in any new family members — furry or not. Provide a relaxing area for her to sleep and feel safe so that she may age gracefully.
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