Advances in medicine and science have lengthened the average human lifespan, and veterinary breakthroughs have done the same for pets. This is great news for pet lovers, but it does come with increased responsibilities.
The longer pets live, the more likely they are to deal with age-related changes that can impact their health and behavior. In this post, we’ll look at some of those changes that affect older cats.
The Age of Senior Cats
At what age is a cat considered a senior? Well, the specific number can vary a bit. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats are seniors once they reach the age of seven. However, some organizations give an age range of around seven to 10 years.
Signs of Age-related Changes
It’s important to keep in mind that the process of aging is normal, and your cat’s body will change as a result. These changes aren’t necessarily caused by disease, although chronic health conditions can become more prevalent as pets get older.
Some issues that can impact aging cats include:
- Changes in eyesight and hearing
- Appetite changes
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Reduced activity level
- Behavioral changes
- Chronic diseases, including kidney and thyroid diseases
Feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD) can be a challenging issue for pet owners to deal with as their cats get older. This cognitive decline can affect a cat’s memory, awareness, and senses. FCD is quite common. In fact, over half of cats between the ages of 11 and 15 are impacted by it, according to the ASPCA.
Some clues that your cat may be dealing with FCD include confusion or disorientation, excessive meowing or other sounds, irritability, sleep changes, and using the bathroom outside of the litterbox.
Changes in social behaviors are also possible. For instance, a cat might become increasingly clingy, or he may desire less social interaction than usual. Aggressive behavior can also occur, which could be the result of fear, confusion, or pain.
The bottom line? No one knows your cat’s unique personality and habits better than you. If you notice changes in how your pet acts, don’t ignore it.
Supporting Your Senior Cat
We’ve come a long way in science, but we haven’t figured out how to stop the aging process unfortunately. Still, older cats can have a happy, healthy life with the support of their owners. Caring for a senior pet may involve certain adjustments.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
*Regular veterinary exams are important throughout your pet’s entire lifespan, but more frequent checkups may be needed during the senior years. This will help you stay on top of any age- or illness-related issues that may require veterinary treatment or lifestyle changes.
*Older cats, particularly those with cognitive decline, may be easily confused or frightened by changes in their environment. It’s best to avoid major changes to their homes. Be careful about bringing new pets into their lives.
*Joint and mobility issues can make activities like climbing and jumping more difficult or painful. You may need to make some modifications that will help keep their environment accessible. For instance, litterboxes would need to be moved downstairs if your cat struggles to climb stairs in their later years. Ramps can also be helpful to have around.
*In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage illnesses and reduce anxiety and/or pain. Veterinarians and behavioral specialists can give guidance on how to make effective changes.
Don’t assume that there’s nothing you can do to improve your pet’s quality of life just because he or she is getting older.
Disclaimer: The contents of the Lazy Days Pet Sitting Service website and blog are for informational purposes only. None of the material is intended to serve as professional veterinary advice. The provided information cannot be used to diagnose or treat pet health issues.