How Do I Keep My Older Cat Healthy?
In addition to providing nutritional older cat food, there are a number of things you can do to prolong your aging cat’s life and keep your older cat in good health.
Because cats are very good at hiding their emotions and pains, it’s very important for you to observe your older cat closely and make mini-physical examinations a part of the way you normally interact with your cat. You can ask your vet for tips, but generally some things you can do include:
- Raising the cat’s upper lips to examine its teeth and gums and look for abnormalities.
- Lifting the ear flaps and checking the ear canals, making sure they’re clear.
- Feel for lumps or bumps on your cat as you pet him or her.
- Look for changes in your older cat’s skin and coat.
- If you find anything out of the ordinary, be sure to bring it up with your vet. Early detection of problems is key to ensuring the longevity of your older or senior cat.
Other important items for your cat’s health include:
Daily brushing and grooming – It helps your cat avoid hairballs while promoting blood circumation and stimulating sebaceous gland secretions which helps your older cat maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat. Be sure to check your older cat’s nails weekly, too, and trim them if necessary, since they probably don’t use scratching posts as often as when they were younger.
Exercise – In addition to weight control, exercise is as beneficial for your older cat as it is for older people! As arthritis develops and muscles begin to atrophy, cats become less agile. By encouraging your cat to play and exercise, you’re helping your senior cat maintain its muscles, increase blood circulation and stay at a healthy weight. If your cat has trouble breathing or gets tired extra quickly, take note of it as it may be suggestive of disease.
Reducing Stress – As cats age, they become less adaptable to change. As such, if you’re going to board your senior cat for an extended period of time, be sure that she has a familiar object such as a blanket or toy. Ideally, however, the cat should be cared for by a friend or neighbor in your home. Another key to reducing stress is not introducing new pets in the home. One thing you can do to reduce stress in unavoidable situations is giving your senior cat more attention and affection to help ease her emotions.
A big key to your older cat’s health, however, is the food you feed your senior cat! Check out our article on senior cat food nutrition.