Golden rules to follow in silver age!

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Your elderly cat can live a normal and happy life,  let’s see how.
It is very fortunate that many diseases of the cat are now able to be controlled by modern vaccines and medications and therefore, more cats are living
Joan Henderson
much longer than in the past. A great many cats are far more active than they were 10-15 years ago and they have lots of energy and are more active and it is not unusual for our cats to live beyond 12 years and still enjoy lots of exercise and the fun of playing with their human companions.
Sadly there are also a large number of cats who really slow down once they pass 7-8 years but with good care, proper diet, exercise and regular check-ups at the veterinarian they can enjoy the years they have left. Your vet can usually detect a problem before it becomes really serious and then there is a greater chance of effective treatment.
Here’s how to take care of your elderly cat:

  • Health issues: Like humans cats can develop arthritis, loss of hearing and some deterioration in their bowel and urine habits. Talk to your veterinarian about these problems and you will generally be given good advice to help your cat adjust and cope.
  • Keep toilet tray handy at all times: Always remember that, like humans, elderly cats need to go to the toilet more frequently, during the day and especially at night, so they always need to have complete access to their toilet tray.
  • Taking care of kidney: Kidney disease can be a major problem with the older cat but a good diet can really help this unpleasant problem. It is wise to cut back on red meat and instead provide meals of fish/tuna, veal, chicken or rabbit. Many pet food companies provide food expressly for cats with kidney disease and this can be of great benefit to help the problem.
  • Supplements: Sometimes vitamin supplements can be suggested by your veterinarian – generally vitamins A & B are advised but usually those low in C & D are avoided.
  • Keep noise to minimum: It is important to remember that all cats hate stress and change but elderly cats dislike loud noises and change even more.
  • Do not over-exert them: Allow your elderly cats to have as much exercise and movement as they wish but do not push them to be more active than their body will allow.
  • Keep them indoors: Do not allow your elderly cats to roam outside at will – large dogs and tom cats can create a lot of stress and injury to an older cat who cannot get away from danger the way they could when younger. If they want to go outside, take the around for a stroll around the garden or out on the balcony if you live in an apartment.
  • Special care in wet and cold seasons: It is very wise to keep these cats indoors when the weather is wet and cold – their bones do not adjust to poor weather as they did when the cat was only 7-8 years old.
  • Dental care: One problem that often arises is the condition of the elderly cat’s teeth. Keep a good check on all teeth and see your vet if you detect broken teeth or a strong smell in the area of the mouth.
  • Eye care: The other situation to keep an eye on is the condition of the skin – this needs to be checked at least once a week but can be easily detected when you are cuddling or stroking your cat. If you notice an change, consult your vet immediately.
  • Trim the claws: Keep the claws trimmed as regular grooming of claws is important.
  • When it’s time, say goodbye: Modern medicines have helped increase the age of the elderly cat BUT sadly there may come a time when life becomes difficult and has no joy for our beloved older cats. Let them go and be at peace.

(Joan Henderson is from Governing Council of the Cat Fancy Victoria (Australia), she is International All Breeds Judge, Melbourne, Australia.)

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