As cats age, joint issues become increasingly common. In fact, recent studies have shown that 90% of cats over the age of 10 are affected by arthritis and degenerative joint disease.
Even without a joint-related condition, your cat’s joints can still become stiff as they age, making mobility difficult.
To help ease your cat’s joint pain and allow them to do more of what they love, here are 10 ways you can improve their mobility.
1. Provide Ramps to Your Cat’s Favorite Places
Cats love vertical space, but climbing with aching joints can be difficult. To help your cat still reach all of their favorite places, consider adding ramps next to your bed, their cat tree, or other places they’re likely to climb.
Walking up ramps is easier on your cat’s joints than jumping is, and they also offer added safety for your kitty to climb down from high places as well.
2. Provide Easy-Access Litter Boxes
Climbing into a litter box can be painful if the walls of the box are too high. If your cat struggles with mobility, invest in litter boxes that are easier to access.
Look for litter boxes with openings that are low to the ground, so your cat doesn’t have to step up too high to enter. You can also opt for boxes that have ramps leading to their openings to reduce the stress put on your cat’s joints as they enter.
Make sure your litter boxes are also big enough that your cat has plenty of space to turn around and move freely.
3. Make Your Home’s Surfaces Non-Slip
If you have hardwood floors, tile, or other slick surfaces in your home, they can be difficult for your cat to walk or jump on.
To make it easier for them to move around your home, consider putting down more area rugs, runners, or other non-slip pads to give your cat more traction, as well as a softer surface to walk and lay on.
Similarly, you can add non-slip pads or carpet squares to other slippery surfaces in your home like stairs, windowsills, and even couches if your cat frequently jumps on and off them.
4. Keep Your Cat at a Healthy Weight
Your cat’s weight has a huge impact on their joint health and mobility. If they’re overweight, it puts added pressure on their joints, leading to pain and further mobility problems.
Talk to your vet to learn what your cat’s ideal weight is, as well as any specific nutritional needs that they may have. This will help you determine how much food (and what type of food) you should feed your cat every day.
Measure your cat’s food daily to ensure you stay within the desired calorie count, and designate time every day for play and exercise. Even if your cat struggles with mobility, exercise is still important, if not even more important.
5. Provide Comfortable Places for Your Cat to Rest
Your senior cat likely spends much of their day sleeping, and you want them to have comfortable places to rest. Beds that have added padding to help cushion your cat’s aging joints can help them feel supported and comfortable.
Orthopedic beds are specially designed to support your feline friend’s joints and can be great options to add to your home. They gently contour to your cat’s body and help distribute their weight more evenly to reduce pressure on their joints.
6. Invest in Heating Pads for Your Cat
Heat therapy is a popular method of pain management for arthritis, and heating pads or heated beds can provide much-needed relief for your cat. Only use heating pads and beds that are specifically made for pets, and ensure they have regulated temperature settings so they don’t get too hot.
You can also move your cat’s current beds into areas that receive more sunlight to help increase the temperature. This is an easy and free way to provide some extra warmth and comfort for your cat.
7. Trim Your Senior Cat’s Nails Regularly
Trimming your cat’s nails isn’t just helpful for your furniture, it helps keep your kitty comfortable as well.
If your cat’s nails get too long, they can grow into their foot pad, affecting the way they stand and put pressure on the joints in their legs and feet. Keeping your cat’s nails short makes walking and standing easier and more comfortable for them.
8. Keep Your Cat Physically and Mentally Active
Even though it’s more difficult for your cat to move around, they still need exercise and enrichment to stay happy and healthy. In many cases, mental enrichment can be just as fulfilling, if not more fulfilling, than physical enrichment.
Food puzzles and interactive toys can help engage your cat’s natural hunting instincts without having them engage in too much strenuous physical exercise. These toys and puzzles encourage your cat to problem solve and challenge their brains in ways that help keep them mentally fit – even as they age.
9. Keep Your Cat Hydrated
For cats that struggle with mobility, it can be difficult for them to get back and forth to their water bowls regularly. Because of this, dehydration can be a serious issue.
Place multiple water bowls or fountains around your home in areas that are easy for your cat to reach, and regularly clean them and refresh the water. If your cat is still struggling to keep their hydration levels up, add moisture to their food in the form of broth, water, or wet food.
10. Visit Your Vet Regularly for Wellness Exams
Regular veterinary appointments are one of the best ways to stay on top of your cat’s health, especially as they get older. Wellness exams help you keep better track of your cat’s weight management, as well as spot potential health issues early on.
Visiting your vet can also offer other ways to manage and improve your cat’s joint health and mobility. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications or offer other treatment options that can help improve your cat’s quality of life.
Keep Your Senior Cat Happy and Healthy
Your cat’s mobility plays a big role in their overall quality of life, and there are many ways you can help maintain that mobility as they age. With the right nutrition, exercise, and home adjustments, your senior cat can live a long, happy, and comfortable life.
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