As cats reach their senior years, their
day-to-day care requirements begin to change. Senior cats hold a special place
in our hearts, so we’ve put together some tips for providing the best care for
senior cats. With a little bit of extra support, your senior cat will be able
to not only live, but thrive, during their golden years.
your pet’s diet
Senior cats have different dietary requirements than their younger counterparts. As they age they can start to struggle with weight management, dry skin, or other more serious ailments that impact their dietary requirements. During one of your bi-annual wellness checks, speak to your veterinarian about your cat’s diet and whether any changes need to be made to improve their overall health. This could involve switching to a prescription diet – such as urinary or kidney care – or simply moving to a healthier, fresher option like Freshpet. One of the benefits of switching to food made from fresh, whole ingredients is knowing that your senior cat is getting virtual nutrients in every meal that they eat!
Encourage them to drink more water
Water is important for all cats, but senior
cats are especially prone to constipation and kidney issues – both of which are
impacted by water intake. Fortunately, there are several easy ways you can
increase your senior cat’s daily water intake.
Switch to fresh food: Fresh cat food has a naturally higher moisture content than the
shelf-stable alternative – 72% vs. 10%, in fact!
Use a water fountain: Cats prefer moving water, so the addition of a bowl with a fountain
could increase the amount of water that your cat drinks.
Offer multiple water points: Set up several water stations around your house, ideally at ground
level, so your senior cat always has easy access to fresh water.
regular wellness checks
Veterinarians, including Freshpet vet Dr.
Aziza, recommends increasing the frequency of your cat’s wellness appointments
from once a year to every six months when they reach their senior years. At
these appointments your vet will likely recommend blood work panels and physical
exams, which allow them to screen for diseases that show up in a cat’s senior
years such as kidney disease, periodontal disease, or cancer. The earlier that
illnesses like these are caught, the more treatment options there are available
and the better the prognosis.
a light workout routine
Senior cats naturally become less energetic
but that doesn’t mean they should live a completely sedentary lifestyle. If
you’re struggling to find ways to get your cat moving each day, keep an eye out
for toys that they are particularly interested in and save them for these
special workout times. If you’re not sure where to start, some great options
Tossing a mouse or ball through a
Encouraging them to chase and
catch a feather wand
Fill a box with scraps of fabric
and have them dig for treats within in
Not only does routine exercise keep your
senior cat’s spirits high, it will help them stay at their ideal weight,
maintain muscle tone, and increase blood circulation.
their minds active
Keeping up with your senior cat’s mental
activity is as important as their physical activity. There are two key times
during the day where you can naturally engage their mind: meal time and play
Meal time: Swapping their bowl for the Doc and Phoebe Indoor Hunting Feeder – which encourages them to ‘hunt’ for their food – or a slow feeder licking mat – which offers a fun way to work for their meals – are great ways to keep your pet engaged while eating.
Play time: If you have a treat-motivated cat, consider getting a challenge board like this 5-in-1 from Trixie. Your cat will have to put their mind to work, figuring out how to extract the treats from the five different types of compartments. The Ripple Rug is another great option, as you can create spaces for your cat to hide, climb, explore, and play – and mix up the configuration within seconds!
For more ideas, take a look at our list of the best toys to keep your pet busy indoors.
your house as needed
Another part of caring for a senior cat is providing modifications, where needed. This could include litter boxes with ramped or low-step entries, swapping vertical scratching posts for horizontal ones, or steps to help them get on the bed or couch. If you’re unsure how to best meet your senior cat’s changing needs, take a look at our article on how to adapt your home to an aging pet or speak to your veterinarian. They’ll be able to help you find solutions that will enable your cat to move comfortably around the house.
We hope that this list gives you some insights
into the best ways to care for your senior cat. Do you have other tips you’d
like to share with fellow senior pet parents? We’d love to see them in the
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