Meowy Monday – As Your Cat Ages

A cat’s lifespan is about 1/5th that of a human. If you’re like me and you’ve had many cats over the years, you’ve probably cared for at least a few older cats. So what’s it like? What can you expect?

The fact is that cats age similarly to us—only their life stages are much shorter. As your cat ages, you may notice changes in the way she grooms herself or neglects her grooming routine, the way she eats or doesn’t eat, the way she moves—with less spring in her step, and less enthusiasm in her behavior. The first thing to do when you start noticing changes in your cat is to check in with your veterinarian. Is she experiencing teeth or gum problems, is her eyesight impaired, does she or he need a special diet for failing kidneys, urinary tract issues, constipation, etc. Has she developed diabetes or cataracts? Is her arthritis so bad that she has trouble climbing into the litter box or jumping up onto your bed. It may be time to provide a litter box with lower sides or a ramp or stairs to make it easier for her to get up onto the bed with you.

Some aging cats become aggressive—often due to pain. Their habits may change. Our Sophie became more demanding about food and she insisted on eating small amounts several times a day. I’ve had antisocial cats become very social as they aged. I determined that the cat had dementia and forgot she was afraid of strangers and visitors.

Some signs of aging are apparent—changes with the cat’s eyes, for example. If the cat is bumping into furniture, has runny eyes, or an eye that is changing color, it’s time to visit her veterinarian. And watch for those lumps and unusual bumps. Cancer seems to seek out the older, weaker cat.

There are definitely ways to make life easier and less stressful for your aging cat and for you, but it requires staying on top of any changes in her health or behavior as she reaches her mid-teens (her 70s/80s in people years)

Your cat has depended on you for everything all her life. Caring for her in her later years may look a bit different, but how you manage her health and well being will make all the difference in her comfort throughout the aging process.

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