Golden Years Cats: Making Their Lives Long, Happy and Healthy!

Jun 12, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Time slips by more quickly for our pets than for us. One day we realize that our favorite cute kitty is now a senior citizen. What can we do to help them “live long and prosper”?

Just like for people, nutrition, exercise, medical care, social interactions and environmental modifications improve and optimize our senior cats lives.

Nutrition: many elderly cats have metabolic diseases such as kidney disease or diabetes and do best on a prescription diet targeted toward controlling these diseases. Arthritis is common in older cats and a food high in anti-inflammatory fatty acids such as Hill’s J/D reduces pain and improves mobility. Canned foods increase water consumption and can help prevent constipation and are often more palatable for finicky elderly cats tastes. Increasing the variety of canned foods and warming the food a little can also tempt the appetite of debilitated senior cats. When constipation is significant, adding ¼ tsp. of Miralax over the counter stool softener can help (consult your veterinarian first before starting the Miralax).

Exercise and environmental modifications: the less elderly cats move, the harder it can be for them to maintain their muscle mass and flexibility. Encourage your cat to play using laser pointers, fishing pole type toys, and other interactive toys. Put step stools or chairs out next to beds and windows to help them jump up and down to favorite places. Make sure litter boxes and food and water bowls are easily accessible. Litter boxes should be low enough that the kitty can get in and out of easily. Try to avoid covered litter boxes, as they can be awkward for arthritic kitties to use without bumping their heads. Heated cat beds can soothe aching joints, and make winter temperatures or an air-conditioned home more comfortable for senior cats.

Medical Care: since elderly cats develop many of the same aging health problems that we have, we can greatly improve both the quality and length of their lives with good medical care. It would be nice if our cats could talk to us and tell us how they feel. They can’t. Our senior cats need to be examined and have lab tests taken every 6 months. Given their rapid aging, this is equivalent to every 3-4 years for a human! Many health problems can be prevented, cured, or managed effectively with early intervention. Your cat cannot tell you it is painful, has kidney or dental disease, or arthritis. Your veterinarian can detect those problems and help.

Social interactions: your senior cat may not seek out attention as much as younger cags in the household. They may be marginalized by the other cats in the household and do not have the energy to fight for attention Try to spend 10 minutes twice a day giving extra attention to your senior cat. You will both enjoy it, and it will make the quality of both your lives better!

Dr Tammy Sadek

Dr Tammy Sadek is board certified in Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr Sadek graduated at the top of her veterinary class at the University Of Minnesota College Of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced feline medicine and surgery for over 25 years. Dr Sadek is the owner and founder of two cat hospitals in the Grand Rapids, MI area, the Kentwood Cat Clinic and the Cat Clinic North.

In addition to her cat hospitals, Dr Sadek hosts a website www.litterboxguru.com dedicated to helping cat owners prevent and correct litter box issues along with other behavioral issues with their pets.

Dr Sadek is the author of several chapters in the book Feline Internal Medicine Secrets. Her professional interests include senior cat care, internal medicine, feline behavior, and dermatology.

Dr Sadek is currently owned by 5 cats. In addition to caring for all her feline friends, Dr Sadek enjoys traveling, jewelry making, reading fantasy and science fiction, and gardening. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two soon to fledge children.

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