There are many considerations to account for when you are taking care of a cat. Things like weight, activity level, environment, and attitude are all variables that cat owners need to keep tabs with when taking care of their pets.
One of the biggest factors that many potential cat owners and current cat owners do not realize is that an aging cat has different care needs compared to a mid-life or young cat. Once they start approaching their golden years, their needs also change greatly. They also become more delicate and their quality of life may depend on the level of attention you give them. This means being more watchful of their overall health, what they eat, how active they are, and their comfort levels. If you’re a cat owner, or are planning to be one, and need help preparing to take care of an aging or senior cat, these helpful tips can make yours and your pet’s life easier.
Understand Cat Years: How Old Is Old?
One of the first and most important things to do so you can better take care of your aging cat is to understand cat years. They mature quickly since a full-grown adult can be just 24 months old. However, their progression tends to slow down a bit upon maturity, most of them reaching what you’d call middle age at around 7 years of age. In human years, this is around age 45. When well-fed and taken good care of, most cat breeds have a lifespan of about 14-16 years. Nonetheless, it’s important to consult your vet whenever you have concerns about the health and wellbeing of your cat that you think are related to aging.
Physical Activity Needs
Aging cats do not run or play as much as their younger counterparts. This is not to say that they do not enjoy playing and running or jumping around, but they are more limited because of their age. If you have an aging cat, there are some alterations you can make to help with getting them some activity. For instance, lower surface levels for them to jump onto and walk around, a smaller play structure or cat tree, and less slippery surfaces for them to run and walk on can improve their desire for activity.
One thing to note is that as she ages, your cat’s physical activity level becomes limited because their joints and muscles become weaker and more fragile. Therefore, you should make a good effort in providing them an environment that gives them the freedom they desire. If they feel like they can get injured playing in their environment, they will start to become less active and that is not good for their health. Providing even a little activity with toys and stimulation will help keep their muscles active, and keep their bodies moving.
Provide Natural Light for Them
All cats, regardless of age, need natural light. They love it for sunbathing, relaxation and it is generally pleasant to have an abundance of natural light. You might not be able to renovate your home and install more windows, but you can open the curtains up more often or bring your cat outside to let them bask in the warm glow of the sun. The primary nutrient that the sun gives us is vitamin D. It promotes happiness and is incredibly important to our health. Aging cats need this vitamin more than we think because they tend to grow grumpier in age.
A healthy cat is a happier cat, and vitamin D from the sun can improve your cat’s attitude. Even little doses will make your cat happier, and aging cats should be given the vitamins they need. Just because they are older, does not mean they do not want to feel happier!
Nutrition for an Aging Cat
While cats of any age like their sunlight, the nutritional needs of cats will vary greatly. Taller, shorter, skinnier, fatter, more active, less active, younger, and older. These are all factors that need to be considered when providing nutrition for a cat. Aging cats have different requirements from younger cats. To ensure that they are strong and healthy, the best foods for your cat are those that are high in fiber, low in protein, and contain nutrients that promote better urinary and bone health. Aging cats range in size too, so portions are important.
Again, no two cats are exactly the same in terms of their nutritional needs. Some breeds eat more than others, whereas some cats are larger in size and may have higher nutritional needs. All the same, it’s mostly about the nutrient content to supply them with as they age. On this note, protein is often a valuable nutrient for cats that are weaker, but an excess of it in senior cat food can cause kidney problems. This is because they’re not able to burn off that extra protein through activity. The main idea is to consider how the food you are providing for your aging or senior cat will improve their lives and make them a happier pet.
Give Them a Relaxing Home Environment
Aging cats can be grumpy if they feel like their home is noisy or busy. Aging cats enjoy their peace and quiet so they can nap and relax in peace. Try to keep the unnecessary noise down so they can enjoy sleep. You do not have to change your life entirely or stay silent all the time, but try not to listen to music or the TV loudly so they have some relaxation. You can also place their bed in a comfortable spot that is accessible but not isolated, where they will not be interfered with.
An aging cat requires unique requirements for their care. Giving them a healthy environment that is full of nutritious food, simple play options, and some peace and quiet can improve their life as they reach a mature age. Owning an aging cat does not mean you have to turn your life upside down. Simple steps you can take, such as the ones listed above, will keep your pet happy and comfortable.