Does an older cat need special care?

I have had cats since I was a child. As all living things do, they eventually get older and need special care to stay in top health. Just like people, cats have different needs as they get older. From diet to grooming and even their sleep habits change. It can be difficult to keep up with.

Senior cat, care

It's especially hard if you have several cats of all different ages. You may wonder "How can I care for my older cat when I have a younger cat too?" After all, many multi-cat households share the same toys, treats and food bowls for all the cats, so things can get complex! 

You obviously won't care for your aging cat the same way you would care for a kitten, though they are similar. Here are a few simple tips to help you take care of your older cat.

Caring for an Aging Cat

When your cat is starting to show signs that they are getting older, they will appreciate extra love and care from you. Remember that if your kitty starts to show signs of pain or illness, the best place to find advice is your veterinarian.

What is considered old age for a cat?

The first step is to understand what aging actually means. When your cat is 11 years old, they are considered to be elderly. If your cat is between 11 years old and 14 years old, they are considered to be senior cats.

When trying to think of your feline in human terms, it's helpful to understand their age in terms of human age. For your cat's first two years, their age is roughly equal to 24 of our years. After that, each year equals 4 human years. So, if your cat is 3 years old, they are roughly 28 in human years. And, if your cat is 16 years old, they are about 80 years old in human years.

How can I help my aging cat?

Each cat will be different but there are a few simple ways that you can help your aging cat. When caring for an aging cat, you should: 

Re-evaluate their diet to be sure it's one that's geared toward aging cats.
Be certain they have enough water at all times.
Watch for possible pain from arthritis and other conditions.
Check their teeth for signs of dental decay.
Encourage them to exercise and play by offering toys.

older cats

What are the signs of a cat getting old?

There are many signs a cat is getting old. Each cat is unique, so they may not experience all of these. Here are a few common signs that you might see.

  • More difficulty climbing or jumping
  • Weight changes
  • Accidents outside of the litter box
  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of energy 

Of course, any of these symptoms may be a cause for concern, so be sure to speak to your veterinarian to rule out disease. Your vet can also help you come up with more ideas for caring for your aging cat.

Do senior cats need special food?

As your cat ages, their appetite and their dietary needs change as well. So, it is important to switch them to senior cat food. Your vet can help you choose the food that is correct for your cat. But, typically senior cat foods have extra taurine which is a heart-healthy ingredient they need more of as they age.

Because senior cats slow down as they get older, they will need fewer calories and less fat in their diet. Quality senior cat food will be tailored for their dietary needs. The best food for senior cats will help them manage their weight.

You may have to come up with a feeding system to keep your other cats from eating the senior cat food. Try feeding everyone at the same time in different bowls. Different rooms might even be necessary. 

Do your best to keep all the cats eating the proper diet for them, though it should be fine if they occasionally sneak a bite of another cats food.

Mature cat vet appointments

When it comes to caring for an aging cat, it's important that your cat has regular wellness visits with their vet. They need to be seen more often as they get older even if they appear to be healthy. 

Your vet may notice small changes in their weight or behavior that you might miss. And, it's important to address these before they become a problem. Make sure you let your vet know of any changes in your cats behavior...even if you don't think they're related to aging.

Caring for a senior cat and grooming

As your cat ages, they may have more difficulty grooming themselves. So, spending time gently brushing your cat is a wonderful way to bond with them while you help them with their needs. 

You may also need to have their nails trimmed. Cats with arthritis sometimes have overgrown nails that can impact their paw pads.

See your home through your cat's eyes

Take a look around your home and the areas your cat enjoys from their viewpoint. Can they still climb into their favorite sleeping spot? Do you need to place a cat bed in a different area? Is it difficult for them to get into the litter box? You might need to buy new equipment, like a litter box with lower edges made for older cats.

Take time to evaluate the way your cat is behaving and the area they live in. Caring for an aging cat means doing everything in your power to help them age gracefully.


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