Once your cat becomes a senior citizen his needs become different than they were when he was a kitten or a middle aged cat. It is generally considered that a cat joins the ranks of the senior felines at the age of eight. By the time a cat reaches 14 years of age and up he or she is classified as an elderly animal.
The needs of a senior cat are different than those of a much younger cat. The health considerations for a mature cat are different as is the activity level. As a cat advances in years, he becomes less active and likes to sleep for longer periods of time on a frequent basis. An older cat plays less, runs less and is not as interested in the games that his younger and spryer brothers and sisters are engaged in. An older cat shows less enthusiasm than he used to. However, some still enjoy play once in a while but it is not likely to be a daily occurrence.
Physical changes can be noted in older cats. They can experience hearing and vision problems and they often will gain weight or lose weight as they advance in years. Joint problems are common in older cats as many suffer from arthritis or related problems. If you notice that your older pet hesitates to jump up on kitchen countertops, windowsills, desks or furniture or if he does so at a slower pace than he used to, this is likely because it causes discomfort in his bones and joints.
The appetite of an older feline is different and needs to be altered accordingly. Speak to your veterinarian about the changing dietary needs of your cat. If your older cat tends to vomit frequently then the problem may be hairballs or food allergies. If the former has been ruled out then a modification of food will become a necessity for the health of your aging pet. In the same way, make sure that you have plenty of fresh water available for your cat to drink. Many older cats drink their fair share of water, not just in the summer months but all year long.
Older cats are more prone to teeth and gum problems than are younger cats. This is something you can work to prevent by practicing good dental care and hygiene from the time your pet is young. If cleaning you cat’s teeth is not something that you wish to do (or not something your cat will allow you to do!) then speak to your veterinarian about other options that are available to you.
Some older cats can experience problems with their bladders and you may discover that accidents on the floor and carpeting have become more common as your cat advances in age. If this is the case, then it is best to have your pet checked out by the veterinarian in order to rule out a serious kidney infection. If the problem is not physical, then discuss with the vet what you can do to prevent future accidents in your home.
Older cats are not as limber as younger cats and their energy level is less, but being in pain is a whole other story. Suffering pain is not a normal sign of aging but is instead a sign that there is something amiss with your cat’s health. If your cat is crying a lot or has problems lying down or sitting and in general seems very agitated, then you need to book an appointment with the pet doctor as soon as possible.