With age your cat's needs will change and at Brentknoll Vets we're here to help!
It's only natural to hope that your cat lives as long and healthy a life as possible - that's why, at some point or another, every owner starts to wonder about their cat's ageing process. But just when is a cat considered to be old, and what kind of changes should you expect?
7+ Years - Your cat doesn't show their age
Cats are well known to keep their elegance and grace throughout the years, and the passing of time doesn't really show! At around 7 years of age the first signs of ageing do appear at the cellular level; meaning internally the cells inside the body start to become less efficient.
12+ Years - When things visibly change
The effects of ageing become more visible; cellular ageing leads to a progressive decrease in how well bodily systems perform, this affects individual animals in different ways. Some changes still may be hidden to the human eye even at this stage, but the ageing process is well advanced and the cat is officially considered old.
Comparing cat and Human ages
Making a link between cat and human ages may be useful, but there is no scientific basis for this. Every species has a distinct pattern of ageing, just as it does for any other stage of life and within each species, each single individual also has their characteristics (many of which are inherited from the parents.)
The Effects of ageing
- Activity - Older cats will gradually spend less time being active, sleeping and waking cycles changes; they will sleep more often but for shorter periods and perhaps be less on alert.
- Skin & Coat - Gray or white hairs probably won't develop at this stage, however you may notice a change in the coats appearance, becoming dryer, rougher to the touch and less shiny.
- Weight - Adult cats often suffer from extra weight due to poor diets, inactive lifestyles and neutering. This can get worse as activity levels begin to decrease.
12+ Years -
- Activity - your cat will seem much less active at this stage as their joints become more sensitive. They are less willing to play will definitely sleep more than previously.
- Skin & Coat - Grooming becomes increasingly difficult as your cat becomes less flexible, their ability to reach certain areas decreases so it's important to help them with regular grooming.
- Weight - Unlike cats in the adult stage, older cats have a tendency to loose weight. This is partly due to a loss in muscle mass caused by reduced activity levels and due to their bodies not absorbing nutrients from food as well. Often they become more picky with food and their appetite decreases.
- Cognitive Troubles - At this stage the brain is ageing significantly and signs such as temporary loss of sense of direction, changes in behavior i.e. meowing and messing in the house may start to appear.
- Behavior changes - Older cats desire safety and familiar surroundings, they will often seek your attention and affection or completely avoid it and seek solitude in a quite location.
Tips for keeping your older cat happy at home
- Make it easier for them to get around - Carry them upstairs if they struggle, place litter trays & water bowls on each floor to save them going up and down .
- Sunny Spots - Cats love to laze in the sun, so provide your cat with a comfortable blanket or bed in their favorite lounging spot, make sure these are easily accessible.
- play - Try gentler games which will stimulate your cat's reflexes (sometimes little and often is better for older cats.)
- Water - Drinking water helps regulate their intestinal transit and promotes healthy renal function. Encourage them to drink with a water fountain and always make sure they have access to plenty of fresh water.
- Safety - Cats like routine, older cats are particularly sensitive to changes in their environment - something as small as moving furniture can upset them so avoid making any significant changes if possible.
- Outside - Older cats often loose their sense of direction, so ensure your cat is microchipped and wearing a safe release collar with your contact details on should he become lost.
If you have any concerns we offer "Young at Heart Clinics" with our fantastic nurses for Cats over 10 years of age, or alternatively our Vets are always happy to help.
Call today on 01905 355938