While it takes humans much, much longer to achieve “senior” status, for cats, it’s about 11 years. But in both our own and their species, there are often health and behavior issues that come with aging. here are a few tips to make things easier if your cat is entering their golden years.
Your vet is about to become your best friend. As your cat ages, there are expected behaviors, such as less frequent grooming, becoming less active, and may even begin to eat with less enthusiasm. While these behaviors are expected, they may also be a result of underlying medical issues. When these changes start to occur, bring your kitty to get checked out to make sure to rule out anything medical.
What Else To Watch Out For
Loss of litter box training. This is the most common reason older cats are brought to the vet. It can be caused by many medical conditions, such as brain tumors, sensory problems, neuromuscular or joint conditions (which affect mobility), or any disease that increases/decreases the cat’s need to eliminate or causes loss of elimination control. However, if it is not a medical issue, the problem may be solved by simply increasing the number of litter boxes in your home, or making the ones you already have easier to access. Cognitive dysfunction. Often compared to Alzheimer’s in humans, mainly older cats are affected by this. Signs include: disorientation (wandering around and appearing confused or lost), reduced social interactions (becoming reclusive toward people and other cats), sleep cycle disruptions (wandering and meowing at night instead of sleeping), and litterbox training loss (forgetting the box location). Sensory loss. Older cats, just like older people, often experience sensory loss in old age. Hearing loss is common, but cats tend to deal with this rather well. SInce they normally hear much higher pitched frequencies, they might still be able to hear lower tones, and respond to things like thumping on the floor. Deaf cats can even be taught to respond to hand signals!
What to Do TALK TO YOUR VET!
This can’t be stressed enough. If your cat is experiencing cognitive dysfunction, your vet may be able to recommend modifications in the environment, or medications, to assist them. Step up interaction with your older kitty. Sit with them and help them groom, and play little games with their favorite toys to keep their mind alert and exercised. Never *ever* assume a cat’s behavior changes are simply due to old age. Cats can become antisocial if they are in pain; kidney problems or diabetes can cause litter box accidents; arthritis pain may prevent an older cat from jumping to use the litter box so she may go elsewhere. Never give up. Your senior cat can never return to being a kitten, but they will surely appreciate you making their older years as happy, healthy, and comfortable as can be.