1. Monitor how much they drink
By getting a feel for how much your cat drinks normally you’ll notice if it changes significantly. An increase or decrease in the amount of water they consume, or urinating more frequently, needs to be investigated. This can be a sign of diabetes or kidney disease but the sooner it is diagnosed the earlier it can be treated and quality of life improved.
Don’t restrict your cat’s access to water unless advised to do so by your vet.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Weight loss can be accompanied by a loss of appetite or even an increase in appetite, but either way it needs to be checked out. Although it can be normal for older cats to lose a little weight, it can also be a sign of infection or disease, so it’s best to be checked out as soon as possible.
Being overweight increases the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure and joint problems but as cats age their body slows and uses less energy making it easier to gain excess weight
Feed a diet specially formulated for senior cats. They provide fewer calories whilst ensuring your pet gets the correct nutrients they need, and without going hungry.
Weigh regularly. Your cat will be weighed at their annual health check, but you are welcome to visit any of our branches to have your cat weighed regularly throughout the year. An appointment isn’t necessary.
At our free weight clinics our nurses advise on how to lose weight safely and monitor weight and body condition.
3. Check the coat regularly
Run your hands firmly over your cat’s body, checking his chest, tummy and tail for any lumps and bumps under the skin. Watch your cat’s reaction for signs of any tender spots.
Feel for any matts in his coat that could indicate that he is having difficulty grooming and be aware of any scabs that could indicate a bite wound. Look out for tiny flea droppings or even fleas and excessively greasy fur, which could be a sign of skin problems.
4. Don't ignore smelly breath
Smelly breath, drooling or difficulty eating can all be signs of dental disease which is very common, affecting around 80% of senior cats. As well as being painful, it can lead to tooth loss, and more serious health risks if the bacteria enters the blood stream.
Thankfully it is preventable with a good dental routine. Daily brushing is best but there are diets and chews that also help. Our nurses give free dental examinations, dental demos and advice.
5. Monitor their mobility
Arthritis is common in senior cats but often difficult for owners to spot as cats will usually hide the fact that they are in pain. But when you know the signs to look out for help is at hand.
TAKE OUR MOBILITY SURVEY TO SEE HOW YOUR CAT SCORES.
Talk to one of our vets if their score is low or if you have any concerns. Often simply a change in diet can help your cat walk, run and jump more easily.
6. Keep them mentally physically stimulated
Playing with your cat provides exercise that helps to manage their weight as well as keeping joints supple, and it also helps stimulate their mind as well. These are just as important for a senior cat as they are for a young one. If your older cat has any health issues, such as a heart condition or arthritis, this can affect the type, and amount of play, that is recommended for them. Speak with one of our vets if your cat has a health condition.
Some cats enjoy rolling toys whilst others prefer cat wands with feathers and other colourful items or brain teasing food balls filled with healthy treats or even simple pieces of string. However, never leave your cat unattended with toys that contain strings or wires as they can become entangled or even swallow the string which can be very dangerous for them.
7. Regular health checks and vaccinations
We recommend a complete nose to tail health check with a vet at least once a year along with annual vaccinations, especially for older cats as their immune system can be less effective as they age.
At annual booster appointments we’ll give them a free full clinical examination including:
- Coat and skin
- Weight and Body Condition
8. Keep flea and worm treatments up to date
It’s important to keep older animals protected. Their immune system isn’t as effective making them more vulnerable, and a flea or worm infestation can have a bigger impact on an older pet.
Speak to one of our vets to discuss what is best for your cat based on it's habits and environment.