None of us are getting any younger and the same can be said for our pets too.
Obviously the life expectancy of a cat is much shorter than us humans, but with a little care and attention, a healthy cat should be able to live well into its teenage years.
Our Senior Cat Club will open in January 2015 run by Emma Donald RVN ISFM CertFN DipFN with consultations run by our feline friendly nurses and is designed for cats aged 11 and over to provide owners with advice and education their pets needs in order to continue providing a comfortable, healthy and fulfilling life in their older years.
Your cat can have a physical examination to include blood pressure and heart and respiratory rates, have their nails clipped and coats groomed, as well as a routine urine test sample. It’s also an opportunity to discuss any worries you may have concerning your cat and a chance to understand the common diseases that affect them later in life.
An information handout will be included as well as a completed health check list to take away with you.
But in the meantime here are a few useful tips from Emma herself, designed to make your cat’s later years the best they’ve ever had.
Adjust litter trays
Arthritic joints can make going to the toilet uncomfortable as a cat gets older. Using shallow litter trays with low sides will help them to get in and out easier, and placing them not to far away from their favourite resting areas will help. If your cat is used to going outdoors, providing an indoor tray will also help for when it’s too much to go outside! Softer litter will also provides more comfort under paw and hooded litter trays with the front door removed will help those that struggle to balance, thus missing the tray.
Move food and water
Introducing a senior diet will aid with digestion, calorie control and joint care in your pet. Remember to ask at reception about our brand of dried foods now on offer. You also need to increase your cat’s water intake to help kidney health by using glass or ceramic bowls filled to the brim and place separately to their food bowl. Making fish broths to freeze into cubes which you can then add to the water can make it more appealing. And for cats that prefer running water, water fountains and dripping taps are perfect. It’s also worth making sure you have food and water available on all levels of the house, that way if they still use upstairs to rest it’s still easy for them to feed.
Use ramps and steps
Creating cat ramps or steps around the home can help your cat get to the places they are used to resting, particularly if it is becoming more difficult for them to reach their favourite areas. Lowering their resting places can also help, for example bringing their beds or blankets onto a lower surface and creating resting places in warm, draft-free areas will help to ease their stiffness.
Encourage mental and physical stimulation
Just like with us humans, keeping your cat mentally and physically stimulated will keep them active, their joints mobile and will slow brain aging and muscle weakness or wastage. Incorporate a little gentle play into their daily routine finishing with a positive reward or treat to maintain encouragement.
Maintain coat and claws
Arthritic joints in a cat make it difficult for them to groom themselves which can be stressful and can lead to problems such as fur forming in the coat over painful joints, and claws thickening and curling around. This can be avoided by using soft brushes to maintain matt-free fur, and regular checking of nails for clipping – our feline friendly nurses can also offer this service if it is a struggle at home.
Be aware of changes
As they age, cats become more resistant to change. If major change in the household cannot be avoided, try to introduce it gradually where possible to avoid upset and distress to older pets. Again, our feline nurses can provide more tips and advice on this matter.
Aging also means our pets can be susceptible to infection as their immune system declines in later years, so it is important to continue to maintain their preventative healthcare such as flea and worm treatment and vaccinations. Our veterinary surgeons can provide a protocol suited to each individual.
Monitor and report
Many health changes are generally dismissed as ‘old age’ and go untreated, however, many issues can be investigated and treated. It is therefore important to monitor our older companions, noting if they eat/drink more or less, sleep more, are unable to jump/climb like they used too or suffer frequent vomiting and diarrhoea. Cats are experts at hiding and disguising their illnesses, so resting more really means they would prefer not to move as it is too uncomfortable. Studies have also shown that 70% of cats over the age of 3 years have some form of dental disease and this becomes more common in our older pets, with symptoms such as trouble eating and pawing at the mouth. Frequent checks with our feline team can assist in detecting early illness.
Use natural supplements
At our practice we offer our pet owners a natural range of treatments to supplement their pets’ needs. For our senior cats, we have our own hypoallergenic diet that is calorie-controlled for their less-active lifestyle and can help with older joints and digestion. The range of supplements that we offer are:
Our natural joint care products contain glucosamine, chondroitin, boswellia and vitamin c to help improve joint quality and reduce inflammation caused by arthitis. Over 60% of cats over the age of 12 years have arthritis affecting one or more of their joints.
A liquid that is high in essential fatty acids such as EPA (Eicosapentaneoic Acid) and DPA (Docosahexaneoic Acid) and antioxidents such as Vitamin E. It’s ingredients can help to slow brain aging by maintaining brain cell integrity and preventing further damage from free radicals, as well as the EFA being useful in reducing inflammation in joint care.
Sereni natural capsules contains a natural blend of valerian root extract, catnip and L-tryptophan to aid cats with stress and anxiety that may be linked to older age. Having a calm and soothing effect, it will reduce symptoms such as vocalisation and restlessness.
A natural product derived from algae that promotes the development of healthy adult stem cells to aid in treating numerous diseases such as digestive disorders, joint disease, brain aging and maintaining general health.
Feliway is a synthetic form of the F3 faction feline facial phermone, something that our cats naturally spread throughout their environment by rubbing their face along objects so that the area smells familiar and comforting. Feliway therefore provides our cats with familiarity and comfort in times of stress such as old age-related changes, anxiety and other behaviour problems such as aggression, spraying and scratching. It comes in the form of a plug-in diffuser for home and also a spray that can be used for travel in the carrier for instance.
If you would like any more information about our Senior Cat Club, you can contact us on 0151 220 4668 or visit their website by clicking here.