Taking Care of a Senior Cat

Your cat is beginning to reach the ages of 7, 8, 9 years old … She is gradually leaving adulthood to end up a unequivocal senior from 12 years old.

In 5 key points, we will shed light on the behaviors to follow when going through this transition:

1 Health Surveillance

The first lookout should be by you but any change in behavior usually your cat should approach you. But, beware, cats are very good at hiding problems they have. Very rarely do they complain, scream, or cry when in pain. Unfortunately, their discreteness gets worse as they get older especially with chronic diseases.

Weight monitoring (ideally 1X / month) is essential and any unexplained weight loss of more than 10% (500g for a 5kg cat) should warrant a visit to your veterinarian.

Prevention and screening: So far you probably visit your veterinarian once a year for vaccination or an annual health check. It’s now advised to schedule 2 visits / year to implement preventive measures. Your veterinarian may, for example, offer you a “senior report”, (ie: at least a blood test, a urine test and a blood pressure measurement) in order to assess their evolution over time. A disease can occur before the first visible symptom and managing it early can be beneficial in terms of life expectancy and overall life quality of your cat.

Your veterinarian should pay special attention to dentition (ie: tartar, broken or weakened teeth). Should abnormalities be detected, dental care will be required. In many cases, dental extractions will be recommended, which may be frightening at first, but it’s better that your cat have one less tooth than an injured tooth causing pain and infection. (Cardiac consequences have even been highlighted. )


2 Food

From 7 years old, your cats adult diet should evolve towards a senior diet specified to the physiological evolution of your cat (proteins in less quantity but of superior quality, reduced phosphorus content, addition of “health” ingredients such as essential fatty acids and cartilage protectors).

The use of wet food (stops misconceptions of bad textures compared to kibble) will often be useful.

Finally, any spontaneous changes, even gradual changes in eating habits require veterinarian consultation. Abnormal signs consist of eating more or less, eating improperly, vomiting and or constipation.

3 Current Hygiene

The care of your cats fur may intensify especially if the grooming behavior of your cat decreases (ie: weight gain, joint pain, oral pain). Thus, It is necessary to monitor the appearance of knots, piles of hair, stains especially in the ano-genital area and act accordingly (ie: brushing, application of dry shampoo, regulating pipettes of sebum production,etc).

Claws should be monitored, tended to, and cut if grown too long.

4 Movement

Does your cat no longer come on the bed, jump on the table, wants to be pet? It’s not becoming less cuddly or old and grumpy but in fact may be adjusting to its  joint pain. You can help by talking to your veterinarian. They can offer dietary solutions (in kibble or food supplement), natural therapeutic solutions (osteo, phyto, homeo, acupuncture, laser) or drugs to relieve your cat.

5 Behavior

Your cat becomes messy all of a sudden. It’s not because of forgetfulness or laziness but in fact it’s an adjustment issue. You should ask yourself questions about the nature (color, smell), frequency and quantity of your cat’s poop. Many diseases  can increase the volume of your cats urine which can make your cat feel overwhelmed by the change.

In conclusion, your cat’s biological clock is ticking and she is getting old. Unless there is a health problem (sometimes well hidden), there shouldn’t be any drastic changes. Your cat should remain the same whether cuddly, greedy, intrepid or playful, its habits and attitude shouldn’t change. If so, you know who to consult.

Article written by Séverine Laforce, Veterinarian

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