Top 5 ways to improve life for your senior cat - KLFY News 10

Top 5 ways to improve life for your senior cat

Updated:
Bringing your cat in for at least an annual exam helps your veterinarian catch treatable illnesses in the early stages. (©Comstock/Thinkstock) Bringing your cat in for at least an annual exam helps your veterinarian catch treatable illnesses in the early stages. (©Comstock/Thinkstock)


By Kim Boatman
From The Daily Cat

If your senior cat is starting to slow down, there are extra steps you can take to ensure that it is healthy, comfortable and content.

How to Help Your Senior Cat

Here are five basic steps you can take to make life better for your senior cat:

1. Visit your veterinarian regularly.

Cat owners sometimes have the tendency to not schedule regular veterinarian visits unless their cat is due for vaccines, says Dr. Debbie Van Pelt of the Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado. But bringing your cat in for at least an annual exam helps your veterinarian catch treatable illnesses in the early stages. For example, your veterinarian can check for lumps and bumps. "Cancers that are caught early can be treated and removed," says Van Pelt. Veterinarians think of cats as senior at about age 10, says Dr. Tracy Dewhirst, a veterinarian in Knoxville, Tenn. However, it's a good idea to have your veterinarian do a baseline blood-check when your cat is about 7 years old, advises Dewhirst. "It's a good landmark. Then the veterinarian has something to look back on if your cat starts to develop problems."

2. Maintain your cat's dental health.

"From a veterinary health standpoint, oral health is really big. We see cats decline rapidly when they don't have their teeth taken care of," says Dewhirst. If your cat develops plaque and gum disease, bacteria can find its way into the bloodstream and threaten your cat's heart health, among other problems. Cats with dental problems also might struggle to eat and maintain weight.

3. Watch your cat's weight.

Excess weight can lead to serious conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and a fat cat is more likely to suffer from arthritis. Make sure your cat is eating a high-quality food designed for senior cats, and try rationing the portion sizes to help your cat maintain a healthy weight, as its metabolism has slowed in the last few years. Your veterinarian can help you figure out an appropriate calorie count and portion size for your cat. You'll also want to notice if your cat is losing weight, since older cats can develop thyroid problems, says Dewhirst.

4. Be a detective.

Cats tend to be private, aloof and secretive. "By the time a cat owner notices a behavior change, things may have progressed farther," says Van Pelt. "We see a lot of older cats where by the time we see them, we are diagnosing them with kidney disease and heart failure." Pay attention to little clues, such as water intake, how much your cat is eating and its elimination habits. A change in elimination can signal a myriad of health problems and indicate a need for a veterinary visit.

5. Make your cat comfortable.

A 16- or 17-year-old cat might show signs of creaky joints. If you simply make things easier, your cat is sure to enjoy better quality of life. Create warmth for your cat by using a heating pad or placing its bed near a warm area.

6. Give your cat extra attention.

Natasha Deen, a Canadian author of young adult novels, helped two beloved kitties live to the ages of 19 and 21, and she thinks extra attention made a difference. Deen cuddled her cats more and regularly brushed and groomed them. Your loving attention is crucial, says Deen. 

Kim Boatman is a journalist and frequent contributor to The Daily Catbased in Northern California whose work has appeared in The Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News. She is a lifelong lover of animals and shares her home with three cats.

Copyright © 2011 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
  • Today's Celebrity Pet!

    Today's Celebrity Pet!

    GWEN STEFANI The singer and her pup hit the beach for a day of sun and fun in Marina del Rey, California.More >>
    BETTY WHITE The Golden Girl shares a sweet cuddle with pooch Delilah while attending the Saturday American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.More >>
  • Cat Quote of the Week

    Cat Quote of the Week

    "The more people I meet, the more I like my cat." -AnonymousMore >>
    "The more people I meet, the more I like my cat." -AnonymousMore >>
  • Dog Quote of the Week

    Dog Quote of the Week

    "The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog." -George GrahamMore >>
    "The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog." -George GrahamMore >>
  • WOOFSTOCK! Sunday, April 6!

    WOOFSTOCK! Sunday, April 6!

    COME JOIN US for our 1ST ANNUAL WOOFSTOCK FESTIVAL OF ACADIANA. Acadiana residents and their pooches can now party likes its 1969, when Giles Nissan hosts Woofstock Festival of Acadiana, celebrating canineMore >>
    COME JOIN US for our 1ST ANNUAL WOOFSTOCK FESTIVAL OF ACADIANA. Acadiana residents and their pooches can now party likes its 1969, when Giles Nissan hosts Woofstock Festival of Acadiana, celebrating canineMore >>
  • Thank You from Camp Bow Wow!

    Thank You from Camp Bow Wow!

    Here's a message from the staff at Camp Bow Wow to all those who took part in their recent 5K-9 and Pet Adoption Day: We wanted to thank everyone who came out to our first Camp Bow Wow 5K-9 at GirardMore >>
    Here's a message from the staff at Camp Bow Wow to all those who took part in their recent 5K-9 and Pet Adoption Day: We wanted to thank everyone who came out to our first Camp Bow Wow 5K-9 at GirardMore >>
  • Missing "Special Needs" Dog

    Missing "Special Needs" Dog

    Have you seen this dog? This Brownie, an 8 year old Cocker Spaniel, who is spayed and up to date on immunizations. She is missing from her home on Allen Road in Maurice. Brownie has only one eye,More >>
    Have you seen this dog? This Brownie, an 8 year old Cocker Spaniel, who is spayed and up to date on immunizations. She is missing from her home on Allen Road in Maurice. Brownie has only one eye,More >>
  • Camp Bow Wow "Foster Dog of the Month"

    Camp Bow Wow "Foster Dog of the Month"

    Meet Mandy, a young pit bull terrier mix who is our Camp Bow Wow "Foster Dog of the Month" for October! Mandy had a bit of a rough start to life but is happy as can be now that she is out of theMore >>
    Meet Mandy, a young pit bull terrier mix who is our Camp Bow Wow "Foster Dog of the Month" for October! Mandy had a bit of a rough start to life but is happy as can be now that she is out of theMore >>
  • Could Your Dog Be a TV Star?

    Could Your Dog Be a TV Star?

    Hello, everyone, it's Blue here. I'm excited to announce that as of today, we are starting a special partnership with Camp Bow Wow, who is our newest sponsor of Blue's Pet Page! To kick off this specialMore >>
    Hello, everyone, it's Blue here. I'm excited to announce that as of today, we are starting a special partnership with Camp Bow Wow, who is our newest sponsor of Blue's Pet Page! To kick off this specialMore >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLFY. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.