Tsue ~ That's What She Said: Caring For Senior Cats ~ Taking Advantage Of All Nine Lives

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Caring For Senior Cats ~ Taking Advantage Of All Nine Lives

Letting our old feline girl out to the enclosed porch to sun herself this afternoon, I stopped to consider her age.  She joined our family when my daughter, now sixteen, was only three.  That puts the old gal well into senior feline range, at thirteen years old.

As a child, I grew up with dogs for pets.  My mother, through a learned dislike she'd inherited from my grandfather, was not a fan of felines.  I recall a neighborhood friend's family had a cat who, based upon neighborhood lore, reached the cranky old age of twenty-two.  A minor scientific miracle, my friends and I assured each other, or, perhaps, a cat care secret!

Thinking of the old saying suggesting that one cat year is equivalent to seven human years, my quick calculations caused immediate concern.  Could our old girl, named Sweetie Pie by an adoring three year old so many years ago, truly be in her 'human' nineties?   Certainly, she is showing signs of aging and less zip in her saunter.  Although certainly a good topic for discussion during our next vet visit, I decided to conduct a bit of informal research.

Cat Care Tips, Senior Cats, Cat Health, Older Cat Care

Truth In Feline Aging
As previously mentioned, we've all heard the suggestion that our feline friends age seven human years to one calendar year.  I was very relieved to learn that although loosely based in fact, this wives tale is not precisely accurate.  According to the College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, the cat aging process, as compared to human years, is actually varied.  At the end of the first year of a cat's life, they are physically similar to a sixteen year old human.  From there, the feline aging process continues with each feline year akin to four human years. 1  What a relief!  Miss Sweetie is certainly a senior madam, however in her mid sixties,rather than in her nineties!

Care For Senior Cats
Even in her sixties, this new found information spurred further research.  Although I'm sure, should there be any immediate concerns, our veterinarian would advise an appropriate course of action, however with our gal healthy, our visits to the vet's office are usually only once per year.  I wondered about signs of trouble I should be alert for, as well as what to expect in my cat's later years.

Signs of Aging in Cats
Again, from easy research, I discovered that aging in felines is not all that dissimilar to aging in humans.  Older cats are more susceptible to infection and disease as their immune system weakens with age.  Likewise, older cats clean and groom themselves less frequently and in combination to their thinning skin, assistance with grooming is important to avoid matting, skin irritation and to watch for signs of skin infection. Scrapes and cuts on the skin of an older cat heal much more slowly and are more prone to infection, often requiring veterinary assistance to properly heal.

The older cat's organs also experience similar aging issues as that of humans.  Senior cats frequently experience loss of ability to smell and dental issues which may lead to changes in their appetite; certainly a warning sign that a trip to the vet should be scheduled.  Other common aging ailments are loss or reduction of hearing, changes to eyesight, as well as slowing of mental faculties and senility.  Just as senior humans may experience, it is not uncommon for older cats to develop arthritic concerns, hypertension or to develop kidney issues.

Frequent Checkups At Home
Beyond regularly scheduled veterinary checkups, your senior cat does not necessarily need more frequent office checkups.  Owners should be on the alert for signs of change in their older cat's behavior, appetite, coat or eye condition and overall behavior.  Making a habit of checking your cat carefully during your bonding sessions once per week is an excellent way to stay in tune to your cat's condition conveniently at home.  If you notice any signs of change in your cat's behavior or health, do not delay in consulting your veterinarian.  Although the natural aging process of your cat cannot be reversed, your veterinarian may be able to offer options for easing the aging transition and giving you and your cat many more years to enjoy together.

Please see my disclosure policy.   1 - College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University website (http://www.vet.cornell.edu)


Closer to Lucy said...

Good at home advice, if we know our pets we can often times rule out illness ourselves. Paying attention is key.

Grace said...

Good tips for cat care

Pam said...

Our oldest Cat, Sassie, is ten now. Amazingly, she still has some spunk to her-she is hissing at Mitzie right now because Mitzie wants to play!

Samantha said...

what a pretty kitty!

Turning the Clock Back said...

I dont know cats since we are dog people but the one thing our vet stressed was a baseline blood workup at age 7 so we had something to compare it to if they got sick and needed bloodwork done.

Daisy TrendyMomReviews said...

I forwarded this post to a friend!

Crystal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystal said...

Great post Teri, very informative.

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