How to care for a senior cat


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Some people who are fortunate enough to have a cat companion for over 10 years may be wondering if there are any tips for caring for a senior cat.

Well, there are! And I’m going to tell you about a few of those here.

How old is a senior cat?

Most cats over 10 years of age are considered seniors, although some veterinarians now say 12 to 14 years due to that fact that with improved health care our pets are living longer now than ever before. Of course this leads to dealing with new age-related conditions. As pet guardians it’s up to us to help them develop the good habits that will take the health requirements of old age into consideration.

They may not need hearing aids, dentures or eyeglasses like we do as we age, but there are other needs we on which we need to focus our attention.

Keep your senior cat indoors!

Absolutely the easiest and most important thing we can do to extend the life of our cats is to keep them indoors…exclusively. Even older cats who may have spent a great deal of time outdoors in her youth can learn to be happy and content indoors with minimal effort on your part. A sunny window seat with a view (preferably of birds and squirrels at play) as well as a place for alone time and a clean litter box are about all that’s required.

Keep an eye on dietary needs!

Sadly over 60% of cats are reported to be overweight or obese. Just as with humans, obesity in cats can be detrimental to their health. Overweight cats can suffer added stress on joints and bones, and become more prone to diabetes and liver failure. If your cat has been on a dry kibble diet you may want to start feeding wet food, either in addition or in place of dry at least one meal a day. Cats are not thirst driven like dogs and need the additional moisture even more as they age to help prevent kidney failure, one of the most common ailments of aging cats.

Maintain regular check-ups!

It is common for people to neglect to get their cats to the vet regularly once they’ve had all their vaccinations, especially if the cat is indoors exclusively. Once your cat ages beyond 10 or 12 years it is imperative that a good health baseline exam is done, and regular check-ups continued to help with early detection of any problems. This can make all the difference in disease management should something arise, and also ensure your cat has the best possible quality of life.

Prevent infectious diseases!

This goes hand-in-paw with regular check-ups. Your vet can inform you of the greatest disease risks in your area and provide the appropriate vaccinations for prevention and/or management should your cat contract a disease. Your vet will also know about the regulations and legal requirements for your city, county and state concerning vaccinations.

Maintain good mental health!

Your cat may not be as active as she once was, but still needs stimulation and low-level activity to keep her mentally fit. While crossword puzzles are out of the question, there are other things you can do to reduce stress on kitty and keep her mind healthy. Some common stressors include changes in the environment, the introduction of a new housemate, a barren environment that can produce unwanted behaviors out of boredom such as hunting, scratching and territorial marking.

Good dental hygiene!

Regular dental cleaning should be done under the care of your vet, but between visits you can help by learning how to brush your cat’s teeth.  Ask your vet about other ways you can keep kitty’s teeth and gums clean between check-ups.

Practice good grooming!

Some aging cats have a more difficult time with their grooming. They may have kept themselves fastidiously clean in their youth, but stiff joints could prevent them from bending and reaching all the places they once had no problem with. You may need to increase brushing your kitty, especially if she is long-haired. There are also special wet wipes for their bottoms if you notice that area becoming unkempt.

Keep your senior cat moving but comfortable!

There are toys that may have been her favorite as a kitten, and now she completely ignores them. Attempt to find new and different toys that might catch her attention at this later stage of life. Try to determine what catches her fancy…

  • catnip yes or could care less?
  • textured (rough) or soft (plush)?
  • crinkly (foil/plastic) or quiet (balled up paper)?
  • bags or boxes?

Anything that catches her attention is a good choice, except for string or yarn, which can be swallowed and cause serious problems in an older cat while a young kitty could have easily passed it.

Also, consider providing a tower. If her favorite window seat requires a short jump or climb it will give her a reason to continue that activity. One thing you don’t want to make her work for is getting into the litter box. An older cat may need a box with at least one low side for easier access

You can also research methods of therapeutic massage and other complementary treatments, as well as anti-inflammatory or pain relief medicines that may be helpful.

Thanks for reading, I welcome all questions and comments!

Kyle Ann


24 thoughts on “How to care for a senior cat”

  1. How to care for Seniors – the cat articles very time and IS packed for of helpful hints. I love cats. My oldest one died last year 22 years young. I miss him terribly.
    And as you say he was an inside kitty all his life.
    And taking your cat to the vet for regular visits is just what you. It’s part of being a pet owned. Great advice thanks for sharing. Thank so much for your awesome article. Every cat deserves to be senior.

    1. Hi Scarlett!
      Thanks for taking time to read my post.
      I’m sorry to hear you lost your 22 year old furry companion last year. They are a big part of our lives when they’ve been our companions for that long.
      Thanks too for the kind words, I’m pleased that you found the content worthwhile.
      Check back for more information soon.
      All the best!

  2. This is a very informative post! My pussy cat is only 4 years old but he is the first cat I ever had (before I found him, I always thought I was a dog person) so although I’m experienced at caring for older dogs, I’ve no experience with cats. I did not know that over 60% of domestic cats were overweight or obese! Wow. I guess I’m lucky that although Moonpie loves to eat, he knows when he’s full. But I think he would be very bored if he couldn’t go outdoors, but although we live in a quiet neighborhood with lots of trees, birds, and squirrels, I do worry about him til he’s back in the house.
    When he was a kitten we bought him all sorts of toys but his favorite one was a crumpled up ball of tin foil that he’d chase and bat around!

    1. Hi Sue!
      Thanks for taking the time to read my post.
      I’m excited that you are both a dog and cat person, I am too.
      Isn’t it funny that you can buy them the most expensive toys and their favorite turns out to be a ball of tin foil!
      If you decide to continue to let him explore outdoors I do hope you have him microchipped just in case he becomes lost or injured and can’t make it back home.
      Thanks for sharing your comments, I wish you many happy years with Moonpie!
      Come back soon to see what’s new, or if you have any questions.

  3. Hi Kyle Ann,

    You’ve compiled a very helpful list of tips on how to care fro a senior cat that I’m sure your readers will find highly beneficial. We do become incredibly attached to our pets, don’t we? And, it’s difficult to see the signs of aging and feel powerless. I hadn’t considered the need for a cat food with more moisture but that does make sense. Do you have a brand that you recommend? Thanks for the info!

    1. Hi Linda!

      Thanks for reading my post and sharing your comments.

      I’m so pleased you found the information worthwhile .

      While I don’t have a specific brand that I recommend, there are things I feel you should look for when seeking  a quality product. It should be grain free and the first ingredient should be a high quality protein from real meat or fish, not anything described as “protein meal’.

      I hope this helps you find a great canned food your cat will love. You may have to try a few different flavors if your cat is picky, I have one kitty that won’t go near fish!

      I wish you many happy years with your furry companion!

      Come back soon to see what’s new, or if you have any other questions.


  4. A very informative article. Our furry friend is only 6, but it is always good to know what to look out for.Getting enough water into him is already a challenge. We give him twice daily wet food besides his kibbles. He loves it and will let you know when it is time for feeding.I believe the Internet was only invented to share cat pictures and videos…

    1. Hi  Martin,!

      Thanks for taking time to read my post, and for sharing your comments.

      I completely agree with your evaluation of the internet!

      I appreciate your kind words and wish you many happy years with your furry companion.

      Come  back soon to see what’s new, or if you have any questions.

      All the best!


  5. Hi Kyle Ann, thanks for your post.  We have two cats that have just ticked over the 10yo mark and your post is spot on the money.  we have had to start purchasing specialised food (my wife won;t let me see the price tag) due to their obeseity.  We also now keep them inside and yes they have adjusted fairly well after spending their lives outside.  We recently moved so that was a good way to make the change as well.  We just didn;t let them outside in the new house.

    A couple of things we found of benefit were a good vet..  one that took an interest in their wellbeing from a day to day ppoint of view and discussed food adjustments and tests we can do with them at home to check health.  The second thing we did was purchase a little laser light on eBay.  We run it over the floor and they go nuts chasing it.  Really gives them some good exercise.

    Thanks again


    1. Hi Paul!

      Thanks for taking time to read my post and share your comments.

      I think you handled the change to indoors only for your cats brilliantly, timing it with the move.

      And finding a trusted veterinarian is another key factor that is so very important.

      The laser pointer is a great way to engage your cats in active play and will help them shed that excess weight.

      Here’s hoping you enjoy many happy years with your furry companions.

      All the best to you!


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