Senior Cat Medical Concerns
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

Senior Cat Medical Concerns

As cats move into the senior phase of their lives, they may be less apt to jump up to an elevated perch, are fussier at mealtime, and are less interested at playtime. Cats move into this phase between 8 and 12 years of age, and though it pains us to see our beloved family member change, we can do several important things to make her transition easier and keep her in optimal health.

By making good nutritional choices, using appropriate medications, vitamin supplements and neutraceuticals, and incorporating exercise into your cat's daily routine, you can make her senior years more joyful and comfortable.

Nutritional Changes
Some studies suggest senior cats do not digest food properly, and thus may not absorb fat, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes as well as younger cats. This means that they may not be getting the calories or the nutrition they need for optimal energy and function.

Rule out medical problems with your veterinarian, but if your senior cat is shedding pounds due to poor digestion, make sure you're feeding her a quality diet with highly digestible proteins and fats. In addition, supplement with a digestive aid to help her get the most nutritional benefit from her food. Since your cat's senses diminish as she ages, try lightly warming her food before feeding to bring out its flavor and aroma. Make sure she's getting plenty of fresh water, too.

Arthritis Can Rob Mobility
Geriatric cats with arthritis are no longer the agile little tigers you once had zipping around your home. They may have trouble getting into and out of the litter box, which may make them inclined to eliminate elsewhere. They may also begin to avoid jumping over obstacles or jumping up to favorite perching sites, which decreases activity level - and enjoyment of their surroundings. If your cat is diagnosed with arthritis, work with your veterinarian to develop an arthritis management plan.

Stair steps or ramps provide access to favorite perching spots without the pain of climbing. A low-sided litter box is easier on joints, too, and may prevent litter-box avoidance "accidents" around the house.

Veterinary Care: Essential in Senior Years
Regular visits to your veterinarian are essential in your cat's senior years, not only to diagnose and treat ailments, but also to prevent a series of related problems that can occur if one ailment goes untreated.

Make sure your veterinary visits include dental exams and regular cleanings. Dental disease is one of the most common problems in senior cats. Regular at-home care is an important bridge between veterinary visits.

Medicating With Ease
Your aging cat may be less cooperative at taking medications. You can try one of the special treats on the market made especially for hiding a pill or medication inside. Your cat thinks she's getting a treat, and you don't have to fight her to take her medication.

Help Keep Her Active
Activity (physical and mental) is crucial for senior cats. It increases blood flow, which stimulates and oxygenates tissues to help remove toxins from the body more easily. Exercise also helps maintain proper bowel function, especially in constipation-prone senior cats, and can even help cats maintain emotional health. If your cat is still active, take her outside on a harness and leash for exercise and mental stimulation. If arthritic, take her outside in a pet stroller in mild weather. Brush her often to stimulate circulation, especially if she's stopped grooming herself. Keep cat grass handy for her to smell, chew, and paw at for added stimulation.

Whenever you are not certain about any of your aging cat's changes, consult your veterinarian. Timely action will help preserve the quality of life your senior cat deserves.

Products for your senior cat...

Signature SeriesĀ® Adult Cat Food

Drs. Foster & Smith Signature
SeriesĀ® Adult Cat Food

Ramps & Stairs

Ramps & Stairs



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