Caring for Senior Cats

Cats are active playful and intelligent creatures. Due to our love and care, they are now living even longer and happier lives.  However much like us when they reach a certain age they may start to slow down.  Our older cats have been through those extra playful kitten days, those awkward teenage stages, right the way through to the refined felines they are today. Now they are older it is more important than ever to cater to their needs.

Mature moggies have had years of climbing fences, curtains, chasing toys and tails! As they age their hard working joints can sometimes get stiff and sore.  Cats are considered to have reached “moggy middle age” by the time they get to around seven years. Some cats might start slowing down at this stage or you might not see signs of ageing until later. The older your cat gets the more at risk they are of developing a joint disease such as Arthritis and of course with age comes general wear and tear.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Luckily a combination of diet and care can help to keep cats more comfortable or prevent future problems.  Senior cat diets are specifically made to support an older cat’s health. Most will have reduced fat levels to keep your cat at an ideal weight.  High quality diets will also contain lots of added joint care to help support your cat. These joint care ingredients can help to protect joints and reduce inflammation. This in turn makes your cat more comfortable and gives better freedom of movement.  For extra support, you could consider adding a supplement into the diet alongside a joint care rich food. Supplements are fantastic for putting the bounce back into older cats and remember the natural ingredients often have multiple health benefits!

Another area of consideration for our older cats is exercise! As cats get older they generally start to sleep more and exercise less. Senior cats may need more encouragement to get up and moving but will still happily play with you. Remember your cat might be older but is still a hunter at heart! Encourage play behaviour by introducing different toys and working out what gets them going! If they are food orientated maybe try a treat ball or an interactive feeder! If they react to catnip try getting out a toy for them once or twice a week. Catnip toys can vary in quality, the highest quality will be made with the more potent leaves of the plant and be stuffed to the brim with nothing but natural organic catnip.

Try varying the way you play with your cat! Use different toys to imitate the natural hunting stages. Encourage your cat to pounce, play, stalk and chase!  Be patient and don’t necessarily expect your cat to twist and jump like they used to, remember their joints might not be able to cope as well with too much strenuous exercise. Most importantly have fun with your older cat companion, playtime can be a lovely bonding experience!

Although it’s important to encourage play behaviour at the same time giving your cat somewhere cosy and comfortable to sleep is an absolute must as they get older.  They want to have that time to relax and enjoy their “retirement”.  Use super soft snuggly beds or heated beds to give your cat maximum comfort and take the pressure off their joints. Make sure they are easily accessible and including a sturdy cat scratcher near their sleeping area can encourage scratching! If your cat has started spending more time indoors, then making sure they have a scratcher will be key in preventing them from scratching your furnishings. Some scratchers are built with snuggling and scratching in mind and have combined luxurious sleeping and scratch areas!

Toileting is another area that can need careful consideration with older cats.  Litter trays should ideally be available for the duration of the cat’s life, as they can massively reduce stress by having constant access to a valuable resource.  As your older cat starts to spend more time indoors than out, it’s even more essential they have a safe, private and accessible place to toilet.  They might have happily toileted outside for years but ageing might make this more difficult. Remember your cat maintains its own independent territory outside and may be less able to keep their own territory as they get older.

Certain litters have actually been specially created for the older feline. Nullodor Mature is a unique silica litter that actually has the amazing ability to detect abnormalities in the urine! The visual colour change of the litter means you can see there might be an underlying issue.  Of course, if there is any sudden change in toileting habit it is always recommended to get veterinary professionals advice. For more information on different cat litters see further litter articles on our website.

Finally, keep your eyes open for any changes in your cat’s health. Keeping a close eye on your cat’s movements and regular health checking your feline can mean you spot any problems early on. The ultimate goal is for your cat to age comfortably and fabulously!