Did you know today is National Respect Your Cat Day? (Personally, we believe that should be 24/7.) In honor of this furry important holiday, we’re focusing on our feline friends who deserve the most respect of all: senior cats!
It’s a murky line on when exactly a cat should be considered senior. You may have heard your vet use the designation as early as age 8. In reality, many cats live to 15 years of age and beyond—so even if she’s technically a senior cat, she really may just be mid-life! With this comforting thought in mind, let’s examine a few of the ways you can accommodate your aging kitty.
Give Her Easy Access
Access to food, water, the litter box, and comfortable places to rest may literally become an uphill battle as your cat grows older. She may be experiencing arthritis or simply have less energy. Giving a senior cat options to more easily meet her basic needs can be as simple as buying raised food and water dishes, investing in a ramp for your Litter-Robot, and placing small pet steps next to the couch, the counter, or any other spots your kitty likes to frequent. You may also want to provide multiple litter box locations, especially if your home is more than one story.
Take Her to the Vet (More Often!)
If your cat is healthy, you’re probably used to taking her into the vet once a year. You’ll want to increase vet visits to twice a year with a senior cat (much to her dismay). This is because the onset of diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, or urinary tract infections can appear more rapidly. Keep tabs on any physical or behavioral changes you notice and be ready to report these to your vet. It may be prudent to look into purchasing pet insurance at this stage of your kitty’s life. While this type of insurance may not cover regular check-ups or pre-existing conditions, it can become valuable if your senior cat ever develops a serious medical condition that requires surgery, frequent medication, or emergency trips to the clinic.
Encourage Her To Drink More
Your vet may tell you to adjust your senior cat’s diet to improve kidney function, promote dental health, and get the right amount of calories. Just as important, however, is making sure she drinks a lot of water. Dehydration can have many adverse effects on older cats, from improper kidney function to constipation. Two of the easiest ways to encourage her to drink more include giving her wet food (in place of or in addition to dry food) and buying her a pet water fountain—many cats enjoy drinking from a moving source more than from standing water.
Rein In the Stimuli
Your senior cat may not want a playmate. The attention of anyone who potentially falls under that “hyper” category—think children, puppies, kittens—should be minimized until you know how well she’ll react and how respectfully the other party will treat her. Anxiety is a common problem among aging cats, one that may require a prescription from your vet. Before resorting to medication, provide her with a space that is as calm, quiet, and stress-free as possible. But make sure to carve out a bit of gentle playtime together every day!
Turn Up the Lights
Vision or hearing loss is common in senior cats. Keep a light turned on or invest in motion-activated lighting so that she can easily find her food, water, and litter box. The Litter-Robot III Open Air now has an automatic night light feature to aid her in her nighttime trip to the bathroom. Try not to sneak up on a hearing-impaired kitty, and expect that she may meow more loudly than she used to. Keep in mind that she may no longer hear the opening of a can or the dry kibbles hitting a bowl when it’s feeding time, so you might have to accommodate her there.
Offer Her Pain Relief
It’s heartbreaking to suspect, let alone know, that your furry companion is in pain. Even though an inevitable part of aging includes experiencing aches and discomfort, you can find ways to alleviate the worst of it with solutions like natural cannabinoids. Unlike most medical marijuana for people, natural cannabinoid medications for pets are high in CBD (the part of the plant known for its painkilling properties) and contain almost no THC (the psychoactive component). A product such as CBD-rich hemp oil can help relieve both pain and anxiety in a senior cat.
In our book, every day is Respect Your Cat Day. Let this be a friendly reminder that with age comes wisdom, and our wisest furbabies deserve extra care and attention as they transition into their later stages of life.