Did you know that if your cat is at least 10 years old, they are considered an elderly cat? Once your cat reaches this age, special health considerations need to be taken for their care – for each of the three stages your elderly cat will experience.
We’ll lead you through each of those three stages so you’ll know what to expect, and so that you’ll best know how to take care of your senior kitty.
Elderly Cats, Aged 10-12 Years
At this age, your kitty is no longer the little kitten zipping through the hallways – or at least, not as often as they used to. Your cat might be avoiding the high surfaces they used to jump with ease, and might be napping more often than you remember.
Cats at this age might become more vocal, and have health risks just like humans do as they start to get older. It is very important that your cat is taken to the vet regularly so that they can be screened for things like kidney disease, thyroid problems, arthritis, and diabetes.
If you take them to the vet at least annually, you’ll be able to catch a lot of health issues early, before they can become worse. When talking to the vet, make sure that you note any behavior changes, or if your cat has gained or lost any weight.
Senior Cats, Aged 13-15 Years
Much like the prior years, your cat is likely to have become even slower and may have issues with their vision. Their eyes may even look a little different, and they may have some hearing loss. Cats at this age often develop problems with dementia, and have trouble keeping their body heat – so make sure they have somewhere comfy and warm to relax.
Because your kitty is now considered elderly, treat them like the little old people they are. Try not to introduce too much excitement (like having younger animals or children around), and if they are around, don’t allow them to bully or mistreat the older cat. When you play with your cat, be gentle with them, and give them plenty of petting and love.
This is a great time to ask your vet to do a geriatric check-up on your favorite old feline.
Old Kitties, Ages 16 and Up
If your elderly cat has made it this far – congratulations! Not a lot of cats get to live to be this old, and a lot of it has to do with the home they were raised in. Or perhaps you rescued an older kitty, and if so – kudos to you, because you’re obviously a warm-hearted, generous and incredible person.
Cats at this age are best compared to 80-year-old humans. Your kitty probably has at least one or two health issues, and thankfully you’re there to help he or she handle them as best as they’re able to. Your kitty may have cat litter box issues, and might not be as well groomed as they used to be. But that’s okay.
You should be taking your elderly cat to the vet at least twice a year now, and be sure to mention any and all changes that have to do with your pet. Things like increased thirst, urination, and issues with defecation. You should also be on the lookout that your cat might be in pain.
They’re masters at hiding this, but some tell-tales include teeth grinding, shortness of breath, not moving around a lot, not eating, panting and hiding.
What You Can Do for Your Elderly Cat
Here are a few tips to ensure that your elderly cat is staying happy, healthy and even better – living as long as they were meant to!
Help your kitty get plenty of exercise by keeping them entertained. Actually spend time with them, and find gentle ways to play together with them.
Feed your kitty a balanced diet, and keep in mind that an elderly cat needs plenty of moisture. You can use a cat water fountain to help encourage them to drink as much as they need.
If your elderly cat likes to prowl the house at night meowing loudly (gosh knows mine did), you can try a low dose of melatonin with your vet’s blessing. Granted, sometimes they just feel lonely, and if you take a moment to talk to them, or even allow them to cuddle in bed beside you, can make a world of difference.
Sometimes elderly cats have problems using the litter box like they used to, so don’t get upset with them if they start to have problems. Try putting extra boxes around the house in case they’re having problems with getting to them in time, and choose those that don’t have high sides, since your kitty’s body might not work the way it used to.
If your senior cat seems disoriented, try keeping them contained to a certain area of your house so that they can’t wander too far. Preferably near you, so they’ll be able to find you if needed.
Personal note: I recently lost my 21-year-old cat back in April of this year. She was the most amazing, sweet little girl, and I miss her very much. I take a lot of comfort in knowing that she lived such an exceptionally long life for a cat, and you’d better believe she was well-loved and treated like a member of the family.