Providing the best possible care for a senior cat can by a trying experience for you and for your pet. After years of companionship, it can be worrisome to see declines in wellbeing in an aging cat. There are some very simple things you can do to ensure you are providing the best possible care for an older kitty.
As with cats of any age, proper veterinary care and home care is essential to your cats health and wellbeing. What you do throughout your cat's lifespan has an influence on how well they age-- including the strength of their immune system so they can be more resilient in the face of illness, and their overall vitality.
How Long do Cats Typically Live?
Cats may not actually have nine lives but they sure do live long enough to make it seem that way! In fact, most cat breeds have a life expectancy that surpasses that of dogs, especially large breed dogs. Indoor cats typically live to about 15 years of age. The average lifespan of an outdoor or feral cat is between 2 and 5 years. According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the oldest cat to have lived was Creme Puff (August 3, 1967 – August 6, 2005) --who lived with her owner to the age of 38 years and 3 days! Today, the oldest living cat is Flossy, who is 27 years old as of November 2022.
Mental Stimulation & Play is Essential for Senior Cats
Just like humans, keeping the mind and body healthy is essential for senior cats. Playtime provides both mental and physical stimulation that exercises both a cat's mind and body. Unlike young cats, senior cats need more time interacting with toys that give their brain a workout. When purchasing toys for a senior cat, look for items that are easy for then to move around and to carry by mouth (softer toys for senior cats with dental issues).
5 Tips to Keep a Senior Cat in Good Health
To ensure a long, and active life for your kitty, follow these tips to support your cat's good health:
Regular visits to the veterinarian. Ideally, your cat sees the vet twice a year. The health needs of a senior cat are different than kittens and middle-age cats. Additionally, if an older cat has special health concerns, more frequent visits may be necessary.
Observe your cat's behavior. If you notice chances in eating habits (too much, too little, more or less often); changes in energy level; or changes in bathroom habits, there could be an underlying health problem. Take the cat to the vet.
Annual bloodwork for cats. Be sure to order bloodwork for your cat at least once a year. This can keep you ahead of any problems that aren't immediately noticeable in a cat's outward behavior, such as cancer or kidney disease.
Keep your cat's teeth clean and healthy. Good dental care is essential to keep bacteria out of you cat's system and protect the mouth from dental disease. Bad breath is not normal for cats! Check with your vet for the appropriate dental cleaning schedule for your cat. Once per year, schedule a professional cleaning for your cat's teeth. Keeping your cat's teeth healthy is preventative medicine that saves you money in the long run.
Groom your cat. While cats are notoriously wonderful at self-care, they still need a professional groom once per year (or after getting caught in the rain or some other mess). Healthy coat maintenance is much easier, and less costly, than resolving fur matting and skin disease.
Feed a quality cat food. Your cat may not need grain-free food or other "specialty" meals that food manufactures would like you to believe. Speak with your vet about providing your cat with a balanced diet, including quality protein and nutrients that support good health for your cat.