Geriatric Cat Care

Ann Roberts
Cat resting

Providing geriatric cat care involves incorporating specific modifications to your cat's care and lifestyle. It's always an exciting step to welcome a new pet into the household, but many pet owners fail to plan ahead for their pet's entire life span. Decisions made early may greatly affect your cat's aging pattern and longevity. There is little a cat owner can do to prevent the death of a cherished pet, but there are a multitude of choices you can make to mitigate you cat's potential for disease and injury and thereby streamline future geriatric cat care.

Elements of Geriatric Cat Care

As in the case of humans, a cat's body slows down as it ages. More pressure is put upon its vital organs including the heart, liver and kidneys. Your cat's response time will lessen, and it may need to rest more often. Once a cat has reached the elderly stage, its eyesight, joints, teeth, hearing and general physiology will be threatened. Time and genetics will almost always take over. However, there is research to indicate that the quality of your cat's diet and the details of its lifestyle will affect the speed and severity of deterioration.

Ultimately, what most pet owners would wish for their aging cats is a peaceful convalescent period followed by a quiet painless death. A quality diet and low stress lifestyle are the precursors of healthy aging. This is true for both humans and pets. So, if you want to make your cat as comfortable as possible through its senior years by planning ahead for its future, consider the following suggestions carefully.

The Great Outdoors

Exercise is important for animals. Many pet owners choose to allow their cat outdoors for the purpose of the animal's fitness and sense of adventure. In a wide country setting, allowing your cat outside is only mildly threatening. However, in a rough condensed urban environment, veterinarian documentation votes against such decisions. The outdoors holds a variety of hazards for your animal.First of all, exposure to other felines presents a problem. There are many communicable diseases that are easily passed from cat to cat. Illnesses such as rabies, feline leukemia, feline infectious peritonitis and the vicious feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) that can lead to feline AIDS are amongst the viral perils of the great outdoors. Many of these illnesses, such as rabies and feline leukemia, require annual vaccines. These vaccines are not without risk themselves. Year after year of such vaccinations may produce sarcoma cancers that can complicate your cat's aging further or simply have a lethal effect.

Fleas, mites, cat feuds and cars spell out more danger for your domestic feline. It is no wonder that indoor cats boast considerably healthier and longer lives than their outdoor counterparts. One of the most significant decisions you can make for your cat's health and longevity is to keep your animal indoors. This is also a vital decision for a geriatric cat. If you want to increase your cat's chances of reaching a ripe old age in reasonably good health, keep it safely indoors.

Your Cat's Diet

Many senior cat food formulas are fortified with nutrients and may also boast a lower protein content. As your cat ages, its kidney and liver functions slow down and become compromised. This means that your cat's detoxification mechanisms are now stressed, and protein digestion becomes hindered.

Feeding your cat a high quality diet is essential for its health. You may want to investigate your cat food brand for the use of animal by-products and poor meat quality. Switching to a superior quality and organic brand will positively impact your cat's digestion and health.

Certain cat breeders advocate a raw food diet for cats that consists of raw, high quality meats and poultry. This diet may not work for every cat, but it is not a bad idea for pet owners to investigate the available dietary philosophies and the success of their application.

The Genetic Conundrum

Your cat's genes ultimately play a large role in its aging process. Unfortunately, unless you have purchased your cat from a breeder who has kept a careful record of its ancestors' health, it is unlikely that you will know exactly what is brewing on a cellular level. Preventative aging measures are important for your cat's overall condition, and some pet owners fortify their cat's diets with vitamins and antioxidants. However, it is important to remember that in the case of genetics, sometimes preventative measures can only do so much.

Caring for a Senior Cat

While it isn't possible to completely prevent a cat's eventual decline in its senior years, taking extra care throughout its lifetime to ensure it has the best nutrition and living conditions can go a long way toward making those golden years truly golden. Here are a few more geriatric cat care tips.

  • Make sure your senior cat has a cushioned resting spot away from drafts to help stave off respiratory illnesses and joint pain.
  • Feed your cat wet cat food to help ensure it takes in enough water to stay properly hydrated since this can help prevent kidney problems.
  • Take care to ensure your elderly cat is not subjected to rough housing from other pets or young children.
  • Schedule a veterinary exam to get a baseline on your pet's health once it reaches senior status. This lets you know your cat's current health, and subsequent exams can pinpoint when a decline begins and lead to quicker treatment.

Your cat will give you a lifetime of affection and amusement, so it's worth the extra effort to provide your pet with everything it needs to live as long and as healthy a life as possible.

Geriatric Cat Care