Today, pets are living longer thanks to improvements in medicine, pet care, nutrition, and awareness of pet health and safety. This makes it more important for pet caretakers to understand the life of a senior pet. As your cat ages into his or her senior years, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what to expect and how to help as your cat ages.
Is your cat a senior?
You might be surprised, but there is no given age that makes a pet a senior. The aging process varies from pet to pet and depends on factors such as breed, species, size, lifestyle, and environment. Generally speaking, cats may be considered a senior once they turn 7 years old.
Physical and behavior changes
Aging cats experience many changes, and they are great at hiding symptoms so it is important to take note of any changes you may see in your pet. Some common changes that you may notice are:
- Altered sleep-wake cycle
- Changes in vision, hearing, and smell
- Brittle nails
- Heart problems
- Decreased digestion and ability to absorb nutrients
- Reduced ability to handle stress and change
- Change in mobility
Your senior pet may also begin to slow down and seem less interested in activities, but it is important to keep exercising. Exercise can help pets maintain a healthy weight, increase circulation, muscle mass, and keep them stimulated.
Feline nutrition is extremely important throughout the entirety of a cat’s life. However, it is especially important for a senior cat to eat the right food. Thankfully there is cat food specifically formulated for the nutritional needs of senior cats and is available in dry and wet forms.
As mentioned above, there is no specific age at which a pet becomes a senior as individual pets will age at different rates. Senior pets should visit a veterinarian at least twice a year for routine wellness exams, this will also help your vet to detect health issues at early stages making them easier to treat.
How to keep your aging cat happy
A cat’s needs will change subtly over the years and alterations to the environment may be required to improve your senior cat’s quality of life. Some recommendations we have for you:
- Set up pet ramps or steps to aid them in getting to their favorite spots
- Make sure items such as feeders, pet beds, and litter boxes are adjusted in height and structure so they are more accessible to elderly pets
- Provide extra light at night for them to feel more secure moving around in the dark
Our compassionate and supportive veterinary team is here to help you in any way with the best interest of you and your feline companion in mind. We are here to help your feline friend age gracefully, peacefully, and comfortably by offering comprehensive senior cat care. For more information on how to care for a senior pet, contact Valley Veterinary Clinic today.