Experts vary about the age at which a feline is considered a senior, but we can assume that Fluffy is approaching senior status at 8 – 10 years of age of age. She could still have many healthy, active years ahead of her, as long as a bit of care is taken.
Cats approaching senior status tend to slow down, although that doesn’t apply to all kitties. Our Lucy is 9 years old and still runs and plays like a kitten. She greets everyone at the door and shows no sign of her advancing years.
As a cat ages, those annual veterinary exams should increase to twice yearly wellness checks, so that any physical changes may be more easily diagnosed.
Older felines may experience hearing and vision loss. Accommodations should be made to deal with either of those conditions. Be patient and remember that Fluffy may not hear when you call her. If your kitty no longer hears well, approach her carefully so that she isn’t frightened.
Cats often suffer from arthritis as they age. Joint and muscle pain could slow her down and make jumping and climbing difficult and painful. You might talk to your veterinarian about adding a supplement to her diet to address that problem. There are several such supplements on the market that deal with joint stiffness.
Felines that reach 16 years of age or older may develop a wide array of age-related health issues.
Abby came to us as a foster when she was 14 years old. Friends who own a very upscale restaurant in Punta Gorda, FL, said Abby belonged to the owner of a nearby shop. Over the years, she had become mostly an outdoor kitty, eating many meals at the back door of the restaurant. When Abby’s owners closed their business and left Abby on the streets to fend for herself, our friends took her to their vet for some much-needed dental work and to treat a pre-cancerous condition on her nose.
After living with us for a few months, we realized that Abby’s age would make her difficult to place in an adoptive home, so we kept her. A year or so later, she showed signs of confusion and possible dementia. She would stand at the refrigerator yowling just after she had eaten a meal. I often found her standing in the middle of a room, looking all around like it was unfamiliar to her. At night, she would wander the house, crying for no apparent reason. Abby clearly wasn’t functioning on all cylinders.
If your pet displays signs of such cognitive dysfunction, be prepared. Make accommodations to ease her muddled mind. If she seems hungry when she shouldn’t be, make sure there isn’t an underlying health problem at the root of her behavior. Then keep some low-calorie treats on hand for her. Comfort your cat when she seems disoriented and make her feel loved and more secure. Cats may also need extra assistance with bathing as they age.
Be sure to feed your senior pet the best diet your budget allows. Go easy with treats to keep her weight under control.
Ask your veterinarian for suggestions to improve your aging cat’s life. There are medications available to help with night prowling and crying.
Seniors cats still have plenty of love to give, and it’s up to you to return that affection by making her last days as comfortable as possible.