Living with A Senior Cat

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Your cat may have more difficulty jumping up to places he likes to go such as a favorite window sill or his multi-level cat tree. You may have to provide a ramp or steps so that your cat can continue to do the things he enjoys as he ages.

In spite of mobility problems, it will be important for your cat to continue to exercise. Continue interactive play sessions, but increase their frequency and reduce the time length of each one. For example, if you played twice a day for 20 minutes, play four times a day for 5 or 10. If your cat exhibits panting or labored breathing, stop the play. Have him examined by a veterinarian for a potential heart condition. If your cat does not see as well, roll a ball with a bell for him to chase. If your cat enjoys catnip, provide catnip toys for him to kick and toss whenever the spirit moves him.

Problems associated with age may make your cat avoid the litter box. Mobility problems may prevent him from descending the basement stairs to get to the box or getting into the box, so you may have to place the box in a more accessible location or find one with lower sides. Various illnesses such as diabetes or kidney problems may cause your cat to urinate more often which requires that you clean the box more frequently than before. If your cat has diarrhea, for example, he may deposit his wastes without covering them.

Signs of illness may show up first in your cat’s litter box, so monitor his use of the box daily to detect problems early.

If your cat has a condition that requires constant monitoring, keep him separated from other pets and household disturbances. Cats as a general rule don’t like change, and this will be especially true of an ill or aging cat. Stress can weaken your cat’s immune system and make him more susceptible to disease, so keep changes to a minimum. If you must travel, have a reliable friend, relative or responsible pet sitter (see How To Find a Good Pet Sitter for Your Cat) come to your home to care for your aging cat in his own environment.

Occasionally, the personality of cats changes as they age. Although it is uncommon, your cat may suffer from memory loss or dementia. He may appear forgetful, pace, or wander from room to room as if he is disoriented. If your geriatric cat appears to want more attention, give it to him. If he wants to spend more time alone, allow him to. Old age
is not an illness, but your cat’s old age will require special consideration from you to make it enjoyable.



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