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Commonly Asked Questions About Senior Cats

By: Virginia Wells

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Q: What if my cat has more than cat breath?

A: Cats have their natural smells and cat food can linger on their breath, but a change in breath to the point that it becomes strong or offensive can signal various illnesses.

Tooth or gum disease, accompanied by bumps on the gums or tartar on the teeth, are the most common reasons for extreme cat breath. If you don't brush his teeth regularly, ask your vet to show you how. You'll probably need to do it daily.

An unusually foul smell, accompanied by lack of appetite and frequent vomiting, could indicate liver disease. Kidney disease adds a hint of urine to the breath. Very sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, especially if he's been drinking and urinating more than usual.

Q: Why does my cat seems unusually thirsty?

A: Is his water bowl convenient? Always keep fresh, cool water available, not only beside his food bowl, but in the yard and on each floor of your home. Diabetes, a fairly common ailment of old age that also increases appetite, could be the culprit.

Q: Why does my cat toss and turn at night?

A: Give your cat a soft bed. Arthritis and other conditions will make it harder for your cat to sleep soundly. Orthopedic cat beds are available.

Q: Why does my cat nap more than ever?

A: Your pet may not respond to stimuli as rapidly or in the same manner as when he was younger. It is not uncommon for older cats to spend more time sleeping and have more difficulty being roused. You may notice your older cat sleeping more than usual. Cats may sleep normally from 16 to 18 hours per day. If your cat is 10 or older, add about 2 to 3 hours to that estimate.

Q: Why has my cat has started bumping into things?

A: Your cat's visual acuity may decline, or he may experience other vision-related problems. Failing eyesight is a bane of old age, but cats learn to compensate. Make your home a safe environment with clear walkways. If you need to rearrange furniture, lead the cat around until he gets a feeling for his surroundings. Always greet him with a gentle voice before touching or petting him. Block entrance to stairs so he doesn't fall. Don't let him leave home without a human companion. Better yet, keep him indoors.

Q: Why won't my cat come when called?

A: Deafness is the most probable reason. If that is the cause, you can teach him hand signals. Some deaf cats learn to respond to hand signals similar to those used in distance control of dogs. And, since many deaf cats are sensitive to vibrations, clapping hands or stomping on the floor may also get his attention.

Arthritis, which makes moving painful, may be another reason he's unwilling to respond, along with more serious medical conditions, such as heart disease. If your cat has trouble seeing or hearing, it's still important that he exercise and play. On days when he prefers sleep and inactivity, spend time petting him and talking with him. Massage is an excellent way to keep his joints working and muscles warm and limber.

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