As our feline friends reach their senior years (generally considered to be after age 7 or 8) their daily needs begin to change. Follow these veterinarian-approved tips to keep your senior cat healthy and happy as he ages:
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- Maintain veterinary care. Regular visits to the vet can help identify diseases before a cat becomes critically ill or irreversible damage is done, says Dr. Stephanie Sosniak, of the Northwoods Animal Hospital in Minocqua, Wis. Many diseases can be managed at home with medication or a change in diet.
- Observe your cat. Watch for behavioral changes, such as increased or decreased appetite, increased or decreased urine output, vomiting, weight loss, poor hair coat, irritability, or an increased amount of sleep.
- Watch his weight. Obesity is one of the most common problems facing senior cats, and Sosniak recommends that senior cats be fed according to their goal body weight and health condition as directed by your veterinarian.
- Keep kitty moving. “Older cats tend to be less active, which can compound obesity problems, worsen arthritis pain, and contribute to cognitive decline,” says Sosniak. “Keep senior cats engaged by providing attention, new toys, and environmental enrichment.”
- Make things easy. Your aging cat may need help in order to comfortably maneuver around your home. “Older cats may have a more difficult time climbing into or using a litter box, climbing stairs, or jumping onto furniture,” says Sosniak. She suggests placing food, water, and the litter box in easily accessible locations and adding ramps into the home.