Normal Signs Of Aging In A Healthy Cat
- Change in activity level older cats will rest more often and be less active than they were as kittens. Its a cause for concern when a cat seems reluctant to move or stops jumping very suddenly.
- Changing in sleeping patterns older cats will sleep more often. Cats that are suddenly awake all night and sleeping during the day will need to be assessed by a vet.
- Graying fur a slightly duller coat or gaining a few white hairs is nothing to worry about. However, if a cats coat is noticeably thinner or growing patchy its time to visit the vet.
Tip: Feeding an older cat smaller, nutrient rich food 3-4 times will make it easier to digest.
Not Sure Of Your Pets Age
If you adopted or rescued your pet and arent exactly sure of their real age, veterinary professionals have a variety of means they can use to estimate this. As always, you should consider consulting your veterinarian and clinic staff for help with calculating your pets age, their predisposition to certain diseases, and for healthy aging care and tips for your pet.
What They Cant Tell You
Common age related conditions in cats:
- reduced metabolism and changing nutritional needs
- kidney disease
- loss of hearing and/or visual impairment
- heart disease.
Your cat may not be able to tell you when something is wrong. In fact, animals have evolved to hide signs of illness until it is advanced, and cats are very private creatures. See signs to look out for.
A word on your cats kidneys
Kidney disease is one of the most prevalent conditions in senior cats. Like us, cats are born with a finite number of kidney cells. The cells are not replaced when they die. Humans are born with about 1,000,000 kidney cells in each kidney.
Cats start life with just half of that, at about 500,000 per kidney, so its easy to see why they are so vulnerable to kidney disease. There is no cure, but if diagnosed early kidney disease can be managed very effectively.
Sydney Animal Hospitals can help.
Veterinarians at Sydney Animal Hospitals are trained to identify and address age-related problems in cats early, so that they can be managed ensuring that senior pets enjoy excellent quality of life.
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How Does The Cat Age Calculator Work
You simply need to enter the age of your cat into the Cat Age Calculator. Once you press the calculate button, you´ll see your cat´s age in human years straight away!
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Prepare Before The Veterinary Visit
There are several things you can do in-between visits to your veterinarian to help ensure the trip is a productive one.
- Bring a list of questions or concerns to ask your veterinarian at your cats wellness checkup.
- Write down all foods your cat is eating including treats, brands fed, and amounts.
- Provide your veterinarian with a complete list of any supplements or medications you are giving your cat including preventives.
- Try to record smartphone videos of any concerning behaviors or mobility issues observed at home to show your veterinarian.
- Complete any questionnaires your veterinarian shares with you ahead of time.
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How Long Your Cat Can Live For
Up until six months old, your pet is considered a kitten. Then, it goes from kitten to junior up to two years old. Around three to six, your cat enters its prime years of development, before moving into the mature stage of life, around seven to 10 years old. When your cat finally reaches its senior age , care begins to change more dramatically. In fact, your cats life begins to change even more so during the geriatric stage, when reaching a whopping 15 years of age and older.
Your cat can live for a long time, depending on lifestyle. Consider if your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat, for instance. Some wild cats live for about four to five years, while many indoor cats live for about 13 to 17 years. Despite this, its not unusual for an indoor cat to live up to a long 20 years. If your cat is overweight, however, they are likely to live between 12 and 15 years old.
Why Is Understanding My Cats Age Important
Now that you know how to properly calculate your cats age into human years, you might be wondering: How long do cats live? What is the life expectancy of my cat?
Generally, cats are known to live longer than dogs they can live anywhere from 20 to 25 years. In fact, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest cat ever lived to be 38 years and 3 days old, which is 168 in human years!
Like dogs, however, once cats reach seven to 10 years old, they start to transition into their mature years. Knowing that theyve entered this life stage is important, so you can know how best to care for them. During this time from seven to 10 years old youll want to keep a closer eye on your cat for signs of aging, especially since older cats are more likely to develop diseases like cancer, arthritis, and heart, kidney, and liver disease.
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Is My Senior Cat Dying
As cats grow older, illnesses become increasingly likely. Heart disease, cancer, and kidney failure become a greater risk in older cats. Senior cats also have weaker immunity, so respiratory infections and other illnesses take a greater toll.
Your cats health may appear to take a sudden turn to the worse. This is not as abrupt as it seems, as cats are adept at hiding pain and illness. However, your cat could have been sick for some time but hidden it from you. If your cat is reaching the end of its life, it will be more likely to display the following behaviors:
- Hiding or clinginess
- Heavy, labored breathing
If you notice these signs, your cat is not dying. However, if your cat is geriatric, it will be far closer to goodbye than hello. Prepare yourself for this in order to manage the psychological impact of the loss of your cat. You may also need to make a difficult decision. A dying cat may be in pain, so it could be more humane to consider euthanasia.
Changes In Their Play Time Routine
Play time for elderly cats will likely be comprised of shorter sessions, less energetic chases and more walking around the house or climbing cat trees. Depending on your cats health, you may need to adjust some of the usual games and bring them down to a slower pace, but dont think play time is over once your feline reaches the golden years. Your vet will be able to advise on a level of activity that is suitable for your pet and will keep them well-entertained no matter the age.
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How Can I Help Keep My Older Cat Healthy
Its wise to consider adding a nutritional supplement containing enzymes, probiotics, and antioxidants to your cats food. These additives can be helpful for aging cats for generally the same reasons that they benefit people.
- Enzymes and probiotics help your cat absorb nutrients more efficiently and aid in proper elimination of byproducts, thus promoting gastrointestinal health.
- Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, CoQ10, and alphalipoic acid help stave off degenerative diseases such as arthritis and cancer and help support brain function.
Optimal nutrition provides the building blocks for a stronger immune system, one that is better able to fight off infections, degenerative diseases, and cancer.
Good nutrition is the foundation of a healthy plan for your cats golden years. Provide the highest quality diet that your cat is willing to eat. Unless your veterinarian instructs otherwise, opt for a senior formula. These contain fewer calories to curb weight gain but have better digestibility, and contain extra fiber, vitamins, and fatty acids to account for slower digestive function. Feed smaller meals more frequently. Canned food is often more palatable for a cat with a dulled sense of smell or dental issues. Be sure to consult your veterinarian for specific advice about the best diet for your older cat. And dont forget to provide plenty of fresh water daily.
How Will Getting Older Impact The Health Of My Cat
Just like people, everything slows down a little bit as cats age. As they get older, they might want to play less. Their nutritional needs will change. Arthritis tends to develop, and many people don’t realize that even kitty cats can develop arthritis. So, getting older is like people, as cats can also have vision problems or hearing problems, so care as they age becomes more necessary.
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What Kind Of Veterinarian Takes Special Interest In Cats
The American Association of Feline Practitioners is an organization dedicated to the special needs of cats. Members of the AAFP have a special interest in cats and feline medicine. When you are seeking a veterinarian for your cat who takes a particular interest in cats, AAFP membership is something to look for.
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Best Dental Water Additive For Cats
Cats may not enjoy having their teeth brushed, but regular oral care is important as she ages. In between examinations and professional cleanings, keep your cats breath clean and plaque to a minimum with Zymox Oratene Brushless Oral Care Water Additive for Dogs and Cats. Add two pumps per quart of your cats water to gain the maximum benefits. The flavorless formula is ideal for senior cats who are averse to teeth brushing.
- Fresh from harsh chemicals and antibiotics
- Contains no chlorhexidine, alcohol, or xylitol
- Freshens breath, kills germs, and removes plaque without brushing
- Safe for ingestion in daily water
- Zymox has a patented LP3 enzyme system to support a cats periodontal health
- Sold and recommended by veterinarians
Things to Consider
- Product contains sorbitol, so consult your veterinarian before usage
- Do not use with charcoal filter water fountains
- If teeth worsen or there is no improvement, stop usage and seek veterinary care
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Be Mindful Of Weight Gain
As mentioned, cats become a little less mobile as they get older and this means they wont be burning through energy as quickly as they did when they were younger. This can put your cat at risk of gaining weight. To avoid weight gain, carefully manage their diet and provide correct portions of a specially formulated senior cat food.
Moreover, you can always play with your cat and encourage them to explore to keep them moving. This can help maintain your cat at a healthy weight and help keep their joints supple.
How To Care For Cats As They Age
The single most important thing you can do to improve your senior cats health and quality of life is to take him to a veterinarian for regular check ups and routine lab work. It is best for senior cats to be examined every 6 months, as this will ensure that any issues that may not be apparent to cat parents are caught and addressed early.
Your veterinarian can make recommendations on a senior-specific diet, supplements, or pain medications which can significantly improve your cats vitality and longevity.
Additionally, you can consider making modifications to your home to help your aging cat feel more comfortable. Consider a litter box with low sides that make getting in and out easier. Try pet ramps to help your cat climb up stairs or furniture easier or pick her up and carry her up stairs if shes comfortable being held.
And to keep your cats mind sharp as she ages, make sure to block out plenty of time for interactive play and food puzzles.
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Caring For Your Golden Girl
You can also take some easy steps at home to improve your cat’s quality of life in her senior years:
- Choose a high-quality food made for senior cats:Youthful Vitality 7+ Cat Food, for instance, is specially formulated to support brain function, energy and vitality, healthy kidneys and bladder, healthy digestive system and luxiurious fur.
- Give her a warm place to rest: Especially if she suffers from arthritis, she’ll appreciate you moving her bed from a drafty area.
- Think easy access: Give her a litter box, water bowl, and food bowl on every floor of your house. If she seems to be having trouble climbing into the litter box, find one with lower sides or even try an old cookie sheet.
- Help her groom: Many people rarely brush their cats because they are such good self-groomers. But as your cat ages, brushing your cat serves a dual-purpose of acting as a bonding activity and keeping her coat healthy when she can no longer do it alone.
- Continue to Exercise Her: Here are some easy ways to keep your senior cat moving.
What To Expect When Your Kitty Becomes A Senior Cat
My 15-year-old cat, Lance, sits next to me as I write this piece. He is special to me because he is the oldest of my four cats and we have shared quite a bit of time together. Caring for him helps me to cross-check the guidance I give to anyone who is sharing their life with a senior cat and wants to provide them with the very best care. Owner observations and vigilance, regular veterinary exams, and wellness testing are the four cornerstones of excellent senior cat care.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners Senior Care Guidelines, older cats are classified as mature or middle-aged at 7 to 10 years old, as senior cats at 11 to 14 years old, and geriatric from 15 to 25 years old.
Many in the profession begin treating a cat who is 7 years and older as senior cats, and begin doing wellness exams every six months instead of yearly. Those who work closely with cats are very aware how subtle the signs of illness in cats are and how well cats can hide their illnesses.
As many diseases are more common in older cats, our vigilance in observing their day-to-day habits needs to be intensified after age 7 to be sure we can prevent and catch problems early.
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Beware Of Changes In Weight
Both weight gain AND unplanned weight loss require a visit to your veterinarian.
- Weight gain can make your cat more likely to get chronic diseases and have a shortened life span.
- Weight loss in senior cats is usually a sign that something is wrong. Some of the most common diseases causing weight loss hyperthyroidism, intestinal disease, and diabetes occur with a normal or even increased appetite.
Gradual changes in weight are hard to notice. Monitoring your cats weight is one of the most important reasons for routine examinations by your veterinarian.
How Do I Ensure Proper Hydration
Water is the single most important nutrient for cats of any age. Aging, however, interferes with a cat’s sensitivity to thirst which is already low in cats and predisposes them to dehydration.
Chronic dehydration can interfere with normal metabolic function and may speed the progression of subclinical disease.
“Water is the single most important nutrient for cats of any age.”
Make sure your cat has regular access to water and monitor the amount of water left in the bowl to see if there is any reduction in their water intake. Have multiple bowls of varied sizes in different areas and all floors of your home. Water bowls should not be near food as cats prefer not to drink close to their food. Some cats prefer to drink running water if your cat prefers water from the tap, invest in a water fountain for them. Clean and freshen water bowls regularly to eliminate built up debris that may deter your cat. Feeding more canned food will also increase water intake.
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Why Is My Older Cat Vomiting
In healthy cats, vomiting occurs periodically. The cause may be because the food has caused an upset bowel. However, the risk to the animal’s health occurs when the vomiting does not stop, and the vomit contains mainly bile . It is extremely important to immediately contact a veterinary clinic if this happens to your cat.
Vomiting in a cat can have a simple cause that does not need to be examined by a veterinarian, but it can also be a serious illness symptom.
There can be many causes of vomiting, and identifying the one that caused your cat to vomit can be a daunting task. Always follow the recommendations of your veterinarian. For successful treatment, you need to give medications on time and prescribe therapeutic food even if the symptoms have stopped.
At What Age Is A Cat Considered A Senior
It can be hard to recognize signs of old age in cats as they dont get fine lines and wrinkles like humans do. Changes in your cat are most likely to start on the inside as they approach their golden years, and they will gradually age as we do. Read on to learn at what age a cat is considered a senior and what signs of ageing to look out for.
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