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How to Care for an Elderly Cat

Learn how to care for an elderly cat from board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. E'Lise Christensen, DVM in this Howcast video.


If you have an adult cat at home or even one that's edging into senior citizen territory, there are special considerations that you didn't have to worry about before. The first of those is to make sure that your cat goes to the veterinarian more frequently. Many veterinarians recommend that cats come in at least every 6 months once they hit the age 7. And this is because there are important diseases that happen with age, that start to happen around that age, that can be dealt with sooner rather than later, in order to prevent an early demise. Things like hyperthyroidism, or elevated thyroid levels, kidney problems, and even some types of cancer can be caught early, and when caught early we have a better chance of a good quality of life for a longer time.

If you have an elderly cat at home, major things that you want to watch for are: increased or decreased urinary output, that means fewer times in the litter box or many, many more times, or more amount of urine in the litter box; changes in the defecation frequency; or if your cat is having troubles going to the bathroom. For instances, if your cat goes into the box to go to the bathroom and seems like he's straining or uncomfortable, that's something that can definitely happen with age and can be treated by your veterinarian. If you find that your cat isn't grooming as well, or is hiding more, or is having trouble eating, these are all things that you'll need to address with your veterinarian as well. Overall though, to keep your cat healthy at home as a senior citizen, you want to make sure that you're still providing active play every day, as well as environmental enrichment in puzzle toys.

You also want to make sure that your cat has plenty of easily accessible elevated areas. Remember, your cat might not be able to jump as high as before if he's not feeling very comfortable. In addition, you're going to want to make sure that you provide lots of loving attention and plenty of fresh water. Keeping your cat hydrated is one of the biggest keys to keeping your cat healthy. And those are some ways to manage an elderly cat at home.

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