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Matted Fur and Curly Claws - Caring for an Elderly Cat

 by petbucket on 05 Jun 2015 |
2 Comment(s)
Pets, like humans, are living longer and just like humans, their needs change over the years. When your cat was a kitten, his or her needs may have been few, but now that your cat has reached the twilight years, he or she is going to need greater consideration to ensure a good quality of life.
 
Why are cats living longer?
 
Cat food now has greater nutritional content with foods that are suited to individual conditions, such as coat maintenance, dental care and even obesity management. Veterinary care has also improved and there is the benefit of increased uptake of pet insurance that makes previously uneconomical medical treatments affordable.
 
When does a cat become elderly?
 
A cat is thought to be middle-aged when he or she reaches 7 or 8 years old. As cats age faster than humans, a cat can be considered elderly or senior when they reach 10 or 12 years.
 
Common symptoms of old age
 
Noticeable symptoms of old age in cats include a deterioration in the look and feel of the fur, with the coat becoming less glossy and threaded with white hairs. Skin is less elastic and there is slow but noticeable weight loss. In behavioral terms, an elderly cat will sleep more often and for longer, but may experience nocturnal wakefulness, when they prowl the house and yowl loudly. They may also have impaired eyesight and hearing.
 
Alternative toilet arrangements
 
An elderly cat will be slower on their feet than a younger animal, and so may feel vulnerable if required to urinate and defecate outside. It is, therefore, kind to place a litter tray inside the home for their use. Avoid trays that have high sides as an elderly cat may have difficulty lifting their legs due to arthritis.
 
Feeding and associated conditions
 
An elderly cat's diet requires less protein and more calorie content than a younger cat needs, so you may want to start your puss on a dry food that has been developed specifically for elderly cats. Hyperthyroidism is common in elderly cats; with this condition, the cat seems to eat constantly, yet lose weight. Weighing your cat frequently will enable you to keep an eye on their weight and register any sudden weight loss. Also keep an eye out for your cat drinking more than usual, as this can be a sign of kidney disease.
 
Grooming
 
Elderly cats will lose joint mobility and may, therefore, be unable to groom themselves as well as they once did. You can help them to groom by brushing them two or three times a week with a cat brush or comb. Remember to be gentle, as their bones will likely be quite prominent. An elderly cat is also not likely to use a scratching post often and this can result in claws growing long and curling under, possibly penetrating the soft pad of the paw. Keep an eye on claws and clip them when they grow too long, ensuring that you do not clip them too short and cause them to bleed.
 
Your elderly cat needs care and consideration to enjoy the longer life scientific developments have gifted them with. Making a few changes in your home and being extra vigilant regarding their feeding habits and behavior can alert to you any issues and help prevent these becoming problems.

Comment(s)2

Beverly A. - Comment
Beverly A.11 Jun 2015Reply
Thank you for the above info. I read it carefully to compare with my 2 12-year-old spayed female indoor cats. I have noticed several of the activities you mention, though not all the time! I will brush them oftener now; I also try to keep their litter box cleaned up.
I show them each, and evenly lots of affection, too.
Beverly A. - Comment
Beverly A.11 Jun 2015Reply
I appreciate the article about multiple cats and have stored it to refer back to! Thanks again!

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