Keeping your senior cat healthy and active

A senior cat shows her age in some of the same ways humans do. She embraces routine and comfort. She slows down in both body and mind. She becomes more vulnerable to illness. Understanding the changes she is experiencing allows you to make her senior years more comfortable and healthy. Here's what to keep in mind.

Snoozing seniors

Most senior cats sleep more than they did in their youth and venture out less. Arthritis is common in aging cats, so they will seek heat and a soft cushion to help ease the aches and pains. Stroking and massaging your cat will give comfort as well.

Playing around 

Despite your cat's preference to sleep away the day, be sure to encourage play into her senior years. Exercise slows deterioration of the organs, muscles and bones. It also keeps the mind alert.

Helping a confused kitty 

You may hear your cat crying loudly, especially during the night. Senior cats can get confused and disoriented. More and more cat owners are reporting signs of dementia similar to those in humans, possibly because cats are living longer. Leave some lights on at night and when you are away to help your cat navigate the house. Try to lead her to food, water, the litter box – and you! – if she appears confused.

Boosting appetites and water intake

An older cat's major senses dull. Appetite and thirst decrease, which can lead to weight loss and constipation. Try fountains or trickling water in the sink to encourage drinking.

Visiting the vet

You should take your senior cat to the vet twice a year. For a cat, six months represents two to three years of human aging. Your vet can check for evidence of medical conditions that are common in older cats, such as dental problems, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, chronic renal failure, arthritis and bronchitis.

Staying clean

Senior cats groom themselves less effectively. You can avoid hair matting by regularly brushing your cat. Toilet habits may slip too. Make sure the litter box is not located too far from your cat's favorite sleeping spot and her food. Choose a litter box with low sides so she can enter it easily.

The twilight years can be golden. With appropriate care, you can have plenty of time to enjoy with your longtime friend.

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