One of our vets has written some tips on how to make your cat’s autumn years that little bit easier.
- Older cats hunt less, spend less time outside, are generally less active and sleep for longer periods. They can have reduced or fussy appetite, be less keen to play or groom and maybe more vocal. They also tend to become more insecure and therefore potentially more dependent on you.
- They are less able to retract their claws and they may get caught on furniture and carpets. They can also overgrow and stick into their pads. Regular trimming may be necessary.
- Your cat is less able to groom efficiently so you may need to wipe away any discharge from its eyes and nose. You may need to brush your cat using a soft brush taking care to be gentle.
- Elderly cats are more vulnerable to becoming dehydrated, especially if suffering from medical conditions such as kidney disease, so always make sure that a variety of water bowls are available in the home inaccessible areas away from the normal places where food is eaten. You may need to experiment with the type of container, for example, ceramic bowl, glass or drinking fountain.
- Litter trays should normally be located well away from other resources, such as food and water but for the very elderly or those cats suffering from cognitive dysfunction, it is appropriate for all its resources to be located in easy reach to avoid confusion. Open trays with low sides are ideal and they should be firmly fixed to prevent them from being tipped up if your cat is clumsy when using a tray
- Many favoured locations for sleep are on raised surfaces, such as your bed or a windowsill so it may become difficult with time for your elderly cat to access these special places. The positioning of ramps, steps and platforms will enable it to reach the area in gentle stages rather than giving up due to stiffness or weakness in the joints. If
- Your cat may have less of an appetite as it gets older as its sense of smell and taste diminishes or there may be occasions when your cat needs a little encouragement.
- Offer food little and often.
- Consider the type of bowl as your cat may prefer a wide, shallow bowl or one with a rim.
- Gently warming food to just below body temperature can increase palatability.
- Experiment with the consistency of the food offered. Some elderly cats, especially those with dental problems prefer soft food to dry biscuits
- Raise the food bowl onto a box as this may offer more comfortable eating to a cat with arthritis.
- Avoid leaving uneaten wet food out for more than an hour and don’t be tempted to leave a range of different foods out as this can be overwhelming.
Most importantly make sure you take your cat for their regular health checks at the vet. All those senior tests can be early indicators of any diseases.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do contact your local branch.