Feline Life Stage Guidelines:
Caring for Senior Cats
As cats get older, they need more support and care from their owners. Senior cats have specific requirements that need to be met – we have outlined these below.
How to Care for Senior Cats
According to feline life stage guidelines, senior cats are those that are more than ten years old. The following are some of the most important discussions that should take place regarding care.
Regularly, cats have an annual examination where health problems are discussed, and cats are examined for any potential illnesses or problems. However, senior cats are more fragile and require a physical examination every six months.
Because they are aging, senior cats are more likely to develop oral and cardiorespiratory diseases. Therefore, vets will prioritize abdominal, musculoskeletal, ophthalmic, and oral examinations and focus on the thyroid gland and kidney palpitation. Pain assessment is also an essential step in the process and ensures that your senior cat’s quality of life does not significantly decline.
As mature adult cats become senior cats, their habits may change. Changes in grooming, mobility, appetite, hydration, nocturnal activity and vocalization are important to discuss. Additionally, signs of cognitive decline, changes in vision, and problems such as vomiting, polyuria, diarrhea, and polydipsia should be reviewed.
Nutrition and Weight
At this stage in their lives, cats may gain or lose weight. This is tracked and carefully considered in case it is symptomatic of any disease. Feeding still depends on ideal BCS and MCS, but therapeutic diets may be considered if there are concerns about weight.
Environment and Behavioral Care
Mobility decreases as cats age, and senior cats may require a different environment than they did when they were younger. These include accessibility in terms of stairs and litter boxes and comfort in terms of a different diet or bedding. In addition to monitoring their cognitive function, it’s essential to discuss behavioral changes with specialists. Cat owners tend to assign behavioral changes to age, but these may be symptoms of a bigger problem.
Elimination and Hygiene
As with mature cats, senior cats may not be as mobile as they used to be. Accommodations have to be made regarding hygiene and elimination so that senior cats can easily use their litter boxes. Diseases like DJD may require adjusting both the size and location of the litter box so that it is easier to access.
Aging cats are more likely to develop oral tumors and dental disease. Dental care becomes essential in order to prevent a decrease in quality of life since some problems leave cats unable to eat. After a detailed dental examination, owners should discuss proper care instructions and home treatment.
As with all cats, seniors can also fall victim to parasitic infections, depending on risk factors such as location, lifestyle, and travel. Visits may also include fecal examinations and discussions of tick control.
FCV, FHV-1, FPV, and rabies vaccines are the core vaccines for senior cats. However, vaccinating senior cats depends on risk assessment after carefully examining their overall health. The FeLV vaccine may be administered based on risk assessment but is not considered a core vaccine for senior cats.