Cat Care For the Senior Cat

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How quickly time passes by! If your kitty is over 10 years old he is considered old! You may be aware of this fact but what you may not know is how to care for your aging kitty. What are the best ways to keep your older cat healthy and happy as well as active during their later years? Some questions might arise such as, should I change the food I have been using? You might wonder how to keep your cat healthy through exercise? What about medical care?

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.

When a cat ages, its body goes through much the same types of changes that we see in humans. Cat care becomes very important at this time. For example, there is a natural decrease in muscle mass, along with a coinciding increase of body fat. If you are not careful and take early action these changes can lead to an overweight kitty! Because the energy needs of the typical cat begins to slow around the ages of 7 to 9, changes in food intake and exercise must be made to prevent the cat from become unhealthy.

Nutrition is a very critical aspect of cat health and cat care. Strolling down the cat isle at the pet store will present a vast array of cat foods for every kind of situation. The elderly cat is not left out. It is very important that you choose a food designed for your cats age. Food for older cats will contain less calories and protein and more of the vitamins and minerals an older cat needs. A quick call to your vet can help you decide if you are not sure which one to pick.

Sometimes you may not be sure if your kitty is officially a Sr yet. There are some signs that you will want to keep an eye on. When a couple of these traits begin to be apparent you know its time to make some changes. Is your cat moving slower than the past, does he sleep more than years past, is your cat unable to jump up on things that use to be easy for him? These can all be signs of an aging cat. You may want to consider things that can make life a little easier for him at this time of his life. Pet steps can help a cat get up on a bed that is too high to jump on now. A comfortable, plush cat tree with a cat house can make for restful naps and a place to hide out in.

General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

Arthritis in older cats is a big issue because as cats age the absorption rate of calcium into their bones becomes inadequate. A general rule of cat care is that arthritis becomes an issue for cats at about the age of 12, even earlier if the cat happens to be obese. If your veterinarian diagnosis your cat with the painful illness of arthritis, there are some steps that can be taken to minimize its effect on the cat. For example, this can often be treated with a combination of weight loss and medication. Sometimes its just a fact of growing old and the only thing we can do is make things a little easier for our old friend.

As your cats age progresses, cat care becomes even more crucial. When a cat becomes very old, it can suffer loss of sight and hearing, just like humans. And, just as with older humans, cat care becomes a little harder at this age. Care needs to be taken to make sure the cat is as comfortable as possible. The teeth of you cat can present cat care challenges as he gets older. As with all of us, the older we get the more dental problems we have. Be sure you are doing all you can to keep your cat’s teeth healthy. See our cat care article on cat teeth. One good way to help a cat keep healthy teeth is by feeding him hard cat food most of the time.

How old is your kitty compared to human years?

1 year = 20 years
2 years = 24 years
3 years = 28 years
4 years = 32 years
5 years = 36 years
6 years = 44 years
7 years = 48 years
8 years = 52 years
9 years = 56 years

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
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