In today’s world, cats get much older than they did before. This is partly due to better healthcare, veterinary medicine developments and the adjustment of the cat’s diet to his lifestyle. Despite higher age, old age can still bring some disadvantages to the aging cat and these are mainly physical. Some of these disadvantages are preventable, for example age-adjusted cat food. Again, prevention is better than cure.
It is said that a year in the life of a cat is equivalent to seven years in a human. Kittens grow up much faster than an human child, but at a later age this process slows down, to where a cat year is equivalent to four human years.
Cats are living longer than before. The average life expectancy of a cat is around fifteen years but there are cats that are much older. Sometimes it also depends on the breed.
Neutered males live longer than cats that have not yet been neutered. Often this has to do with the fact that stray cats are more likely to be injured or exposed to the dangers of the outdoors. In addition, in heat, rivalry to a partner, and pregnancy can bring forth too much stress which can shorten the life expectancy of a cat. The so-called stray cats or cross-breed cats often live longer than purebred cats.
When is a cat old?
The opinions on this matter differ. From a medical point of view, a cat is already a senior around the age of 8 years old. Although physically this is not old for a cat. Yet the years do eventually count and cats, like humans, suffer from ailments associated with old age.
You can help your cat to manage these ailments with proper nutrition, plenty of exercise and good care.
Most common problems in aging cats
- Renal- and hepatic problems
- Periodontal and dental problems
- Impaired hearing, vision, taste and smell
- Digestive Problems
- Dull coat and baldness
- Increased susceptibility to infections
Cat’s do not easily show their pain or ailments, and many cats remain healthy for a long time or never get sick. But it’s always good to know that cats can get these age related ailments, ailments that can be treated well at the vet in most cases.
What can you do?
From the age of 10 years and up pay special attention to the following:
Give foods with fewer calories. Most cats become less active as they grow older. Weigh your cat regularly. If he is overweight, then feed your cat less!
Avoid food with too much protein, phosphorus, sodium, but pick a food with more vitamin A, B1, B6, B12, and E, unsaturated fat acids and zinc. There are now many different brands of cat food available especially for older cats. If in doubt, always contact your veterinarian. He can advise you on this the best. It is important always to give the new food gradually because some older cats can not tolerate sudden changes in their food. Therefore, first mixing a little of the new food with the old and multiply this over a period of a few days, until the cat is adjusted to the new food and taste.
A trip to the veterinarian at least once a year to perform a health check. Symptoms of the cat’s health issues and diseases of aging cats (listed above) are best treated when detected early.
Note the amount of drinking your cat. Is the cat drinking much more than before, it is good to contact the vet concerning the risk of diabetes, among other things. Beware of other behavioral changes, however small they may be. Give your cat regularly treatments against flee and worm infections.
- Brush your cat regularly, depending on coat length, to keep the cat’s skin and coat healthy
- Make sure your cat gets enough exercise to maintain muscle mass and strength.
- Dental problems are quite common in older cats. Try if possible to brush with a toothbrush specifically for cats. The first signs of it can be identified by a red edge along the gum line. If the cat does not tolerate this and becomes hard to handle, then there are special dental-foods and anti-plaque fluids available at the vet or pet store.