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As your cat ages, you're going to have to care for them slightly differently then you would a young cat. Your cat will be slowing down a little, and without proper care, may develop health problems. Here are 10 tips for having a healthy older cat.
Ten Tips For a Healthier Cat:
- Loss of teeth- It is harder for the cat to chew, and it's possible for mouth bacteria to make its way into the cat's blood stream. It's best if you made sure that your cat's dental health was good all of its life to prevent loss of teeth in the first place, but in the meantime, you can make eating easier for your cat by feeding it wet food, or dry food with a little water added in. You can also try out using crunchy dental health treats, or investing in cat toothpaste and a cat toothbrush. Try switching to a "complete" cat food, or if possible, feed them a food made especially for senior cats for a healthier diet.
- Less Exercise- The cat will become less agile. You can keep your cat in shape by playing with them daily, or at least once a week.
- Stiff joints- Stiff joints will result in aching, and/or arthritis. If your cat is licking its joints excessively, it may be a sign that your cat has stiff joints. Your cat will be less likely to develop stiff joints if you play with your cat often.
- Skin disease- When your cat has a skin disease it may be in pain, and have an awful itch. There are many different types of skin diseases. Some are caused by allergies, others are caused by bug bites or worms. There are quite a few different treatments for skin diseases, depending on what the cause is.
- More time sleeping- As your cat ages it will need more sleep, so give them a warm and comfortable place to nap. Unfortunately, your cat will get less exercise, and will be prone to obesity. Remember to have playtime with your cats, and they will get in some exercise. You and your cat will also bond more if you play together.
- Less acute hearing- The cat might not hear you calling, and may be easily frightened or surprised. This may lead to a flighty cat, who is afraid of people. Try not to sneak up behind your cat, and stay in a range that it won't surprise them if they see you.
- Deteriorating eyesight- Your cat may develop cataracts, and may not notice their surroundings as much. Make sure that you don't appear close up out the corner of their eye, and surprise them.
- Thinner coat and loss of conditioning- A thinner coat will leave the cat less protected from cold, and other animals. Loss of conditioning may cause dry skin, which can lead to skin disease. This can be prevented by giving your cat a supplement in his/her food such as fish oil. Be sure that the food you are feeding them is nutritionally complete and has enough omega-3 fatty acids. You may notice that your cat is starting to look scruffy. As cats age, they don't groom as much, so you may consider purchasing a cat brush so you can help out and keep your cat well groomed. You'll also find less cat hair around the house if you keep them groomed!
- Poorer absorption and digestion- This causes a sensitive stomach, allergies, stiff joints, lethargy, slow healing, bloating, poor coat or skin, loose stool, and excessive shedding. It sounds awful, but can be prevented easily. Some advise feeding your cat fresh, high quality meat, fowl, and fish, along with the use of probiotics, digestive enzymes, lipids, and minerals. You can also help out your cat's digestive system by adding high fiber foods to their diet. A little bit of pumpkin should work well.
- Obesity- Obesity can predispose cats to diabetes, Hepatic Lipidosis, and arthritis. Once again, playing with your cat as exercise should help with obesity. You may also want to put your cat on a diet to help it lose some weight.
Overall, give your cat a lot of love, and keep him/her comfortable in their older years. Your cat will live longer, and stay healthy through their old age.