It used to be that a nine-year-old cat was considered ancient. But these days, an indoor cat can live for up to 15 or 20 years, and becomes a senior when they’re about 10. As any animal ages, their body changes. To avoid being hurt or attacked, cats hide their pain and other changes in their body. However, there are subtle signs that your aging cat is having a bit of trouble. Here are some changes to watch for as your cat lives out its golden years:
Physical Changes If Fluffy doesn’t climb or use the top parts of the cat condo anymore or has problems grooming, he may be experiencing joint stiffness or arthritis. If you notice your older cat is urinating or defecating outside the litter box, don’t get mad. This could be because they can’t jump over a high litter box wall, or because arthritis in their paws makes their feet sensitive to the litter. Your cat can also show other common signs of aging, such as graying, gradual hearing loss, and blue-cloudy eyes. Behavioral Changes Your cat may also start behaving differently as they age. They may sleep more or may not like to be stroked anymore. Sometimes they can become cranky, especially when disturbed. Your cat will also adjust more slowly to changes in environment and diet. They become less tolerant of temperature changes. Your cat might become more anxious and start grooming compulsively. How to Help Your Aging Cat Aging is all about change, and the process is different for each cat. So it is up to you to know your cat well and notice when they begin to act differently. Once you notice, then there are a few things you can do. If your cat starts having issues getting around, replace stairs with gently sloping ramps, so they can still get up and look around. If your cat has issues with the litter box, change the box and opt for a softer litter like pine shavings. If your cat has difficulty grooming or no longer accepts petting, they could have arthritis. There are supplements you can get from your vet that can help. It also helps to provide cat beds so they have a soft spot to alleviate the pain in their joints. Of course, it’s wise to take your cat to the vet more often as they age to catch possible problems early. Ideally, you should take them twice a year, but at the very least make sure you go once a year. Talk to your vet about changes in your cat so your vet can give you the best advice on caring for your cat. Don’t hesitate to contact our veterinarians should you have any questions on how to care for a senior cat or general care for your dog or cat.