Elderly cats

Learn about your cat's ageing process

Cats may need a little extra help as they age

Older cats make great pets. Some people specifically adopt older cats because they tend to enjoy hanging out at home more. There are a few steps you can take to ensure your older cat is happy and healthy during their twilight years.

You and your elderly cat

Elderly cats (12+) may need a little extra help as they age, but older cats often make fantastic companions who love to spend much of their time enjoying your company at home. In fact, many people choose to adopt older cats because they spend less time roaming and more time closer to home. Owners often comment on the special relationship they have with their older pet.

By understanding your cat's changing needs you can ensure that they are content, comfortable and free from pain. Cats can be good at hiding their symptoms and suffering, so talk to your vet if you notice any change in your cat's behaviour. Many conditions are treatable and your vet can often help to reduce pain and improve your cat's quality of life.

The ageing process

What happens as cats age?

  • activity levels decrease and muscle tone reduces
  • appetite and/or fluid intake may change
  • vision and/or hearing may become less effective
  • bowel and urinary system functions may change
  • immune system may weaken
  • light sleep may increase but deep sleep decreases
  • coat condition may deteriorate
  • age-associated disorders may develop, such as arthritis, diabetes, hyperthyroidism or renal impairment
  • psychological and behavioural changes can occur, such as senility, aggression, increased dependence or excessive vocalisation

Preventative healthcare for senior cats

Elderly cats usually need more frequent vet visits than younger, healthier cats, particularly if they have any age-associated symptoms or diseases. Ask your vet how regularly your cat needs a health check. Some surgeries run special geriatric clinics for older cats.

Regular weight checks are important, as are booster vaccinations to support your cat's weakened immune system.

Feeding older cats

As your cat gets older, they may benefit from a senior cat food that is designed to meet their precise nutritional needs. You can make life easier for your cat by providing fresh food and water in a variety of locations around your home, including upstairs and downstairs.

Watch how much food your cat eats. A change in their appetite can indicate an underlying health condition. Talk to your vet if your cat starts eating more or less.

Cats may eat less if their sense of smell weakens. Warming their food may help to increase the aroma and entice them to eat.

Surgery considerations

Surgical procedures on older cats may carry a risk of causing other health problems, so they should be considered carefully. Your vet will carry out a pre-operative assessment to check your cat's overall health, and can advise on any specific concerns.

Time to call the vet?

Many health conditions affecting older cats are treatable, so call your vet if you notice any change in your cat's behaviour. Treatment can improve your cat's quality of live and could extend their life.

Health issues affecting older cats

Cats can suffer from a wide range of health conditions as they age. Cats often try to hide their suffering, so you will need to be alert to small clues that your cat is not right. This might be changes in their movements eating, drinking, sleeping or toileting. Talk to your vet if you notice any changes. Prompt treatment may help to reduce suffering and may also extend your cat's life.

See also: Elderly cats: health issues

Caring for elderly cats

As your cat ages, they may benefit from a few changes to their environment, such as making resources easier to reach. And by understanding their changing needs you can help them lead a happier and more healthy life.

See also: Caring for elderly cats

Related topics

Elderly cats: health issues - Topic

Caring for elderly cats - Topic