Cats live much shorter than us, unfortunately! It’s sad when our pet, so recently it would seem, was an early toy furrier, and today he moves with difficulty and prefers to sleep than chase an artificial mouse. How does an elderly cat look and behave? What should we know about aging in cats?
An old cat, like an old man, is no longer so active. He also has more or less serious health problems. Therefore, it requires special attention from the Guardian, but this will be discussed later in this article. At this point, I will only say that caring for a senior cat should pay attention not only to the physical aspect, but also to the psychological.
Just an old cat needs to show him tenderness (just like people), stroke him, play with him. Watching your furry friends, I hope even more than a young pet. Only if he’s a domesticated pet, of course.
You can see out one of the best article: When do cats stop growing
How long do cats live?
It just so happens that I have a female senior cat in my house right now. This year my cat turns 18 years old and at first glance you can see that she is approaching the end of his life. Well, maybe not everyone can judge this, you need to know a little about cats-some say that my cat is sick or … malnourished!
How long will my cat stay with me? As long as possible, I hope. But I can’t be sure of anything. The problem is that it is impossible to determine the length of a cat’s life.
Different sources give different information about the life expectancy of cats. We’re talking about 14, 16, 17 years. The fact is, however, that there have been cases of fur seals that have died at the age of twenty-some years, and even lived to be over thirty. On the other hand, it is believed that the average life expectancy of slow-living cats usually does not exceed several years.
Why such discrepancies in determining the life expectancy of cats? Probably one of the reasons is what furs were taken into account in the surveys. And more specifically, it is about the conditions in which they came to stay.
Slow-living cats don’t have it easy. They often suffer from diseases and malnutrition. They are also exposed to numerous wounds and injuries. And so on … when it comes to typical domestic pets, they usually live longer, but with them it can be different. This depends, among other things, on the care that a person surrounds them.
There are many indications that the life of a typical domestic pet is prolonged. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that we are increasingly aware of our pets and their needs. Thanks to this, we can better care for cats, and especially better feed them.
At what age does the cat begin to grow old?
To this question, too, the answer seems ambiguous. As far as I know, in veterinary medicine, a cat is already considered to be elderly at the age of 10-12 years, and as a geriatric patient, he is treated when he turns 14-15 years old. However, many fur coats at this age do not show signs of old age at all.
My second kitten, turns 13 this year, but still looks like a young animal. She is fully physically fit, mobile, has a beautiful coat and enjoys excellent health. And he very much hopes that this state of affairs will continue for many years to come.
Symptoms of old age in a cat
Why do cats that are already elderly (at least theoretically), seem to be still young and full of strength? Well, of course, among the reasons we can certainly mention the good conditions in which they came to live. But that’s not all. There is also a biological factor.
I mean here that the obvious signs of old age appear in cats relatively late, almost just before death. This is of great importance for the animals, because a decrepit old man is unlikely to cope in freedom. Of course, this does not apply to typical domestic fur coats, which do not have to fight for existence. Therefore, even a very sick old cat can still live quite a long time.
And what are the signs of old age in cats?
Symptoms of old age in a cat: changes in behavior
One of the first signs of approaching old age in a healthy cat are often changes in behavior. The animal becomes a little less active and eager to play, spending a little more time sleeping. At first, however, these symptoms are very subtle, so we often do not notice them at all. However, with age, they become more pronounced. And suddenly we are amazed to find that our pet has become as if weighed down. not very busy.
In elderly cats, as in humans, with age there are problems with movement. Pets move a little slower and may have problems with jumping on high furniture. Well, the muscles are no longer so efficient, and some ailments associated with old age also make themselves felt (we will talk about them below).
It’s not easy for my cat to move either. Her step is stiff, and sometimes she looks like she’s having trouble keeping her balance. And yet, despite this quite well copes with jumping on the table or the kitchen countertop.
Symptoms of old age in a cat: changes in appearance
In older cats, we often see a decrease in body weight. This is due to the loss of muscle tissue, which has its source in changes in metabolism. This is why some furry animals may look as if they are malnourished-they have sunken sides and protruding cheekbones, and their spine and ribs are well felt under the skin.
Isn’t it just a coincidence that old cats are dying? Yes, in the early stages of aging, this can happen (the cause of this process is not only reduced activity, but also-to a large extent-improper diet). However, in cats in old age begins the process of weight loss-animals lose weight, often significantly.
other visible changes in the appearance of old cats is the deterioration of the quality of fur. The hair on their bodies can be flattened. This is due, among other things, to the fact that cats pay less attention to their cleaning. However, it also has to do with changes that occur in the cat’s body.
Elderly cats may also turn grey, mainly on the snout. However, grey in our fur coats is often poorly marked-unlike in dogs, in which with age the entire snouts and heads can become downright white. I came across source texts that say that cats begin to turn gray already at the age of 10-12 years. However, this certainly does not apply to all fur coats.
Diseases of old age in cats
Cats in old age, like older people, are more susceptible to numerous diseases, unfortunately.
Disorders in the secretion of hormones, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, problems with teeth and gums, internal organ failure, degeneration of joints, cancer or, mentioned above, loss of muscle tissue (sarcopenia) – the list of diseases of old age in cats is considerable.
This can be accompanied by mental disorders. Older cats have their quirks. Sometimes they can not get into the litter box or get lost even in a familiar environment. Senile dementia is not just a problem for the elderly.
Care of senior cats
Caring for a senior cat is not particularly difficult, although it may seem so. It can be really burdensome only in the case of animals that are very sick and suffering from severe senile dementia. Besides, caring for an elderly cat is not so different from caring for a young or middle-aged fur coat.
Feeding an older cat
A very important, if not the most important element of caring for a senior cat is its proper nutrition. Of course, this is always an important aspect of keeping a furrier at home, but in the case of senior cats, it seems to be of particular importance.
What should be the diet of a senior cat? First of all, it should contain large amounts of protein. And again, of course, regardless of the age of our pet, his food should be high-protein, but in the case of older animals this is especially important precisely because of their tendency to lose muscle mass.
Of course, I’m talking about animal protein, not plant protein. Plants are not the natural food of our cats. Therefore, their diet should not contain a lot of vegetable protein, and even should not be it at all, especially the protein of cereals, which is cats extremely difficult to digest. And the diet of cats in old age should be easily digestible for them.
It is best to simply buy a pet very good quality cat food, with a high content of meat, with a negligible content of plant raw materials and devoid of cereals. Of course, we can also use the so-called barf diet or mixed diet.
As for ready-made cat food, I believe that we do not need to buy special feed for the elderly. It is more important that the food has an optimal composition, that is, first of all, it has the above characteristics (I will write about nutrition and feeds for senior cats in separate articles).
Regular check-ups with the veterinarian
Regular check-ups with a veterinarian should be a regular part of the care of an older cat. It is precisely because of this that the risk of certain diseases increases, which is-as I mentioned-age-related. Let’s not overdo it! There is no need to run with a fur coat to the veterinary office every week or even every month. We’re just stressing the pet out unnecessarily. Once, or at least twice a year, is quite enough.
However, as much as possible, we should carefully observe our purring pet for symptoms of possible diseases. And this is more even than in the case of animals in full force, which is easy to understand.
Pay attention to any disturbing behavior of an older cat, such as a sudden decrease in physical activity, problems with movement. Our concern should be caused by various changes in the skin, in the eyes, any leakage from the eyes, ears, snout, nose, anus and genitalia, and in cats also from the nipples.
It is also very important to control the amount of food and water taken. There is often a problem with this in the case of elderly cats.
In some age-old fur coats, for example, we observe a decrease in apatite, which is associated with an aging loss of smell-smell and taste are strongly related! On the other hand, sometimes we can observe the opposite situation-our pet eats more-but I would not worry about it on purpose (unless he is noticeably losing weight or… losing weight).
It is important to control the amount of water collected by the senior cat. Increased thirst can be a symptom of serious diseases, such as diabetes, which many older furry animals suffer from. Of course, the lack of desire should also cause us anxiety.
Regularly examine the health of the gums and teeth of our purring friend. It is known that in old age fur coats also have teething problems. Which negatively affects the general state of Health and the intake of food – animals find it difficult to bite hard food
Caring for cat fur
An older cat may also require more frequent combing, clipping of claws, etc. Well, as I have already mentioned, the senior cat can no longer take care of itself so well, therefore, for example, it is easier for it to form a quilt on its fur.
I also recommend that old cats regularly trim their claws, which may grow too long. So it is easy for animals to cling to something with their claws, and they may have difficulty getting unstuck. This is what happens in the case of my Tara-when she stumbles on something, she simply does not have the strength to wriggle out, which can result in a limb injury.
An old cat like an old man
I think anyone who’s ever had an old cat in their house will agree with me that it’s almost the same with old furs as it is with old people. They also need a little more attention. They also get sick, they also have problems with movement. Judge fur coats also have their quirks, not infrequently associated with senile dementia. Their habits can sometimes be tiring, and it is very difficult to change them.
Certainly, the difference between cats and humans is that-as I have already mentioned-the obvious symptoms of old age appear at the very end of life. Furs quite a long time retain physical and mental fitness. However, I have the impression, I am sure, that this is changing and the cat’s old age is taking longer and longer. Undoubtedly, this is connected with the ever-better care that we can offer pets, for example, their ever-better nutrition.