Life stages

What sort of care do older cats need? What sort of care do older cats need?

What sort of care do older cats need

Life expectancy for cats has increased a great deal. So it’s important to understand the particular needs of older cats, so that yours can enjoy a good quality of life during the ‘senior’ stage.   Life expectancy for a domestic cat  depends on multiple factors. The most important are related to whether or not he spends time outside the house, and the quality of the care that he receives. It’s estimated that a ‘house cat’ can live for between 12 and 18 years, although it’s not unusual for them to live until the age of 20 or for even longer. 

Nutritional needs for older cats 

If your cat is in the ‘older’ age bracket, it’s advisable to give him a diet that is suitable for senior cats, such as the Ultima range, which is adapted to cover nutritional needs at this stage. Among other things, an older cat needs foods that are easily digestible.

If your cat also suffers from a particular disorder, or is susceptible to a particular illness, it may well be that your vet  will recommend a specific diet for her (for example one that supports cats with urinary or kidney problems).

It’s not unusual to observe a loss of appetite either, but if you see that your feline friend is steadily eating less and less, it’s wise to consult the vet (if he doesn’t eat for 48 hours or longer, it’s urgent that you do so). To encourage an older cat to take more interest in food, try giving him small quantities several times a day, or using a food dispensing toy.

The location you choose for his food bowl is important too. If you have an elderly cat, it may be that he can’t reach high places, so you’ll need to make sure that you put his food and water in easily quiet, accessible locations.

On the other hand, you do need to remember that excess weight is not at all good for his health. This is why we recommend that you keep a close eye on his weight and make sure that you’re feeding him kibble that’s the right size and type.

How much water does an older cat need?

Cats tend not to drink very much water, and it could be that with age, your cat drinks even less. Nonetheless, it’s important to get him to drink enough to cover his needs, as a lack of hydration could cause urinary and kidney problems, which are very common in older cats. 

How can you achieve this?

  • By giving him wet food.
  • Using cat fountains, and turning on the tap from time to time as it’s likely that he’ll have a preference for running water.
  • Changing his water frequently so that it’s always fresh, and using a bowl that’s nice and wide so that his whiskers don’t touch the edges.

Exercise at this stage of life

With age your cat will become more sedentary, which is altogether normal, but it’s not great from the health point of view. So it’s important to encourage him to play and to exercise to keep him active.

It could be that the games he used to enjoy no longer grab his attention, but you can try out new types of games adapted for older cats. For example, you could get him moving by giving him food dispensing toys, or by hiding little bowls of his favourite food around your home for him to find.

Hygiene in older cats

When your cat is old, he’ll need greater care:

  • Cut his nails often, and make sure that they're not damaged.
  • Dental hygiene: offer him chews as a special reward; these will help to keep his teeth clean. Or if you’ve got him used to having his teeth cleaned since he was small, you could clean them with a toothbrush.
  • Check his teeth frequently, and if you spot any problems, take him to the vet.
  • Brush him gently more often, as in all probability he won’t groom himself as much as when he was younger.  

Veterinary care

Even if he’s healthy it’s a good idea to take an old cat for a check-up every 6 months, and for what’s known as wellness testing for senior cats on a yearly basis. Thich consists of a blood test and an x-ray.

Many old cats need to take some kind of medication on an ongoing basis. If this is the case for your cat, try to make the experience as stress free as possible. You could conceal the medication in food, a piece of fish perhaps, and If it’s in tablet form, why not ask your vet if it’s OK to crush it up to make it easier to administer. Another option would be to mix the powder with malt and dip his paws in it, as in this way he'll take his medicine when he licks them. 

Other tips

  • Put his litter tray in an easily accessible place. If the sides are too high and he’s having trouble getting into it, get him a new one.
  • If there are stairs in your home, put a litter tray and a drinking bowl on each floor.
  • If he stops using his rest area and it’s in a high place, try placing it at ground level, and make sure there are no obstacles in his way.
  • Ensure that there's a blanket or heat source always available for him.
  • If he used to like looking out of the window but doesn’t do it anymore, try making things easy for him with steps or a ramp. 

Now that cats have a longer life expectancy, this means that they are ‘senior’ for longer. This is why it’s so important to adapt certain elements of daily life to his needs. Some changes in behaviour are a result of ageing, but it’s wise to consult your vet to make sure that your cat always stays healthy. 

Share on