How to Transition to Managing Old Cat Behavior

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old cat behavior

Today you can expect your cat to live a longer life than in the past. While some cats live into their twenties, most cats live to be 16 or 17 years of age.

Cats are like people. We are all unique and not all of us will age at the same rate. Your cat may begin to display old cat behavior as early as 7 years of age or as late as 10 years of age – most will change by age 12 at the latest.

What is old cat behavior and how will you be best prepared to manage it?

Normal aging brings about changes in behavior. Old cat behavior includes being less active, playing less, sleeping more, grooming less, eating less heartily, and reacting less to surrounding events. Older cats may experience a disturbance in sleep patterns or disorientation. Suddenly your older cat begins forgetting previously learned behaviors, like the location of the litter box. These changes can cause a lot of anxiety and your cat may react in many different ways. Your cat may begin to display aggression or change its social relationships with other household members.

Feline cognitive dysfunction or FCD can begin as early as 11 years of age, affecting memory, sight, hearing and much more. Typical signs of FCD can be described by the acronym DISH.

  • D – Disorientation – Your senior cat may wander aimlessly and appear lost or confused at times. He may fail to recognize family members.
  • I – Reduced Social Interactions – Your cat may no longer greet people warmly or seek their attention as often.
  • S – Changes in Sleep-Wake Cycle – Your cat may sleep more during the daytime but wander aimlessly at night, perhaps crying out.
  • H – Loss of House Training – Breakdown of house training can occur because your cat forgets where the litter box is, or is no longer concerned about personal hygiene.

To learn more about old cat behavior, go to Behavior of the Senior Cat.

Why Increased Urination in Cats Happens

As our cat’s age, they tend to urinate more often, and sometimes they urinate outside the litter box. Incontinence or weak bladder is age-related. The bladder weakens with age, resulting in more frequent urination. Essentially, your cat will urinate as soon as pressure builds up in the bladder – and often, that can mean urinating outside the litter box.

Increased urination in cats is normal with age. It often results from diseases that are common to aging felines, like kidney failure, hyperthyroidism or diabetes. Increased urination in cats is often an early sign of diabetes in older or overweight cats. But don’t just assume that your cat’s more frequent urination is a sign of old age. If you have concerns, see your veterinarian. Your cat could be suffering from a urinary tract infection or bladder infection, or kidney disease.

More frequent urination will cause the litter box to become soiled more quickly. Many cats will stop using the litter box when they encounter a buildup of soil or odor. So increased urination in cats often means urinating outside the litter box. To help keep your cat from urinating outside the litter box, make sure to keep the litter box as clean as possible. Clean the litter box daily, or more often if necessary. To learn more about dealing with a cat urinating outside the litter box, go to How Do You Deal with a Cat Urinating Outside the Litter Box.

Arthritis is another condition that can contribute to urinating outside the litter box. Older cats can suffer from arthritis pain that makes it difficult for them to access the litter box. When this happens, they will simply find an “easier” place to go. Get a litter box with lower sides that is more easily accessible to your older cat.

If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, here are some things that you can try. Increase the number of litter boxes in your house. Make sure there’s one on every floor in case your cat is experiencing discomfort going up and down the stairs. Put the new litter boxes in areas where your cat can easily find them. Many cats also have trouble getting into and out of the litter box when they get older, so use litter boxes that have low sides. To learn more about increased urination in cats, go to Why Increased Urination Happens in Cats.

Here’s Why Your Cat Wants Attention More Often

Sometimes an older cat can become more needy. If your senior cat wants attention more often, she can show it in many different ways. Your cat may become more vocal. She may follow you around or brush up against your legs. If you are working at the computer or reading the newspaper, she may sit in front of the computer screen or on the keyboard, or she may jump up and sit on top of your newspaper. Essentially she is saying look at me! Pay attention to me!


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