Have you ever wondered how old the oldest cat in the world was? Well, according to the Guinness World Records, that title goes to a cat called Crème Puff who was a super-super-super-duper-senior at an amazing 38 human years old! She lived from 1967 until 2005 in Texas, USA.
How beautiful are senior cats?! We just love the thought of beautiful older cats living their days in their favourite warm and sunny spot. What age is a cat when they are considered senior? Well, generally around 11-14 years and then once they are 15 years or older they are considered super-seniors. Cats are known to be living much longer now thanks to better medical care and nutrition. It is wonderful when cats reach this age and are still living a healthy and happy life.
When caring for older cats, it sometimes helps to appreciate their age in human terms. The formula for calculating the equivalent age is fairly simple:
The first two years of a cat’s life equate to 24 human years and every year thereafter is equivalent to 4 human years. For example, a 16-year-old cat would be equivalent to an 80-year-old human (24 plus 14x4 years).
As our dear feline friends get older, some physiological changes can occur such as a loss of muscle mass, loss of smell, sight or hearing, reduced immune system, reduced skin elasticity and lower stress tolerance. These changes can impact behaviour as well, leading to issues such as reduced activity, increased sleep, more vocalisations, reduced appetite and decreased grooming. Ageing can be problematic for some cats, but with some additional medical care, modifications to their living environment and a lot of love and attention, older cats can thrive in their golden years.
There are many things cat owners can do to support their cat as they get older. Here are our top 10 tips to help your cat stay happy and healthy as they enter their senior years.
Organise regular six-monthly health checks by your veterinarian. Many diseases can be treated successfully if they are detected early. Keep an eye out for any small behaviour changes and talk to your vet about it. In particular, look for changes in appetite, mobility, drinking, weight loss, a drop in activity, toileting issues or uncharacteristic behaviour.
Have regular grooming sessions. Your old cat might not be able to groom themselves as efficiently as when they were young and you might have to wipe discharge away from areas around the nose, eyes and anus. Long-haired cats will need more regular grooming and frequent brushing will prevent matting. During grooming sessions, check for bumps and lumps on the skin.
Check whether their claws need trimming. Older cats are less able to retract their claws and they may get caught in the carpet. Regular trimming might be necessary.
Have a regular dental check. Older cats are more prone to dental issues so check your cat for red and inflamed gums, discoloured teeth and bad breath. Loss of appetite, drooling and dropping food while eating are also signs of dental problems. If in doubt, contact your vet.
Modify access throughout the house. Older cats might not be able to jump high enough to reach their favourite resting spots, so, strategically place some boxes/steps to help them get up and down in smaller jumps. You can also add additional resting spots on the ground and they may appreciate some extra padding and blankets to keep them warm.
Stimulate their appetite. An older cat who is losing their sense of smell and taste may lose their appetite because the food appears less appealing. To help your cat maintain a healthy weight you might have to stimulate their appetite. Some ideas include:
Provide food at room temperature. Warm food will smell more and may be more palatable.
Some older cats, especially cats with dental issues, might prefer softer food. You can add a bit of water to dry biscuits or mashing the food with a fork.
Raise the food bowl off the ground so your cat can eat while standing. This may aid older cats with arthritis in their neck or legs.
Offer food in smaller portions and more often.
Provide lots of water. Many medical problems are accompanied by changes in water intake. Provide extra water around the house to make sure your cat stays hydrated.
Make changes to the litter tray. Older cats tend to use the litter box more often, resulting in it getting dirty quicker. As cats are notoriously clean animals, they dislike dirty litter boxes and start avoiding them. Cleaning the litter box more often or providing more litter boxes can keep your older cat using the litter box. Also, make sure the instep is low enough for easy access. You may need to move the position of the litter box in the house if it is too far away or down a flight of stairs.
Provide suitable scratching options. Older cats may prefer to scratch on horizontal surfaces, such as a sisal doormat, which are easier for them to use than vertical poles.
Encourage play. Initiate gentle play sessions with your older cat. Physical activity will help with keeping your cat at a healthy weight, which can prevent certain diseases and reduce pressure on their ageing joints. To decrease the physical effort, have them play while lying on their side or back.
We hope you found some helpful tips in this month’s blog. As always, remember to hit ‘like’ or ‘follow’ on both our Facebook & Instagram pages to keep up to date with all things cat, being a cat owner, tips for cat owners, and of course cute pics!