Caring for Aging Cats Despite their mythical nine lives, all cats age and will eventually require special attention and care. The average lifespan of a cat ranges from 15-20 years. A 15-year old cat would be around the equivalent of a man in his 70s. By the time a cat reaches 20 years, it would be equivalent to that of a 100-year old man. Once your cat reaches these golden years, then it is about time to consider the following when caring for them. Feeding and Diet Cats normally require a diet that is high in moisture, fat, and protein. Vets discourage feeding rich in carbohydrates and plant-derived proteins. In caring for aging cats, lower priced cat foods should not be an option. Older cats require more of these essential nutrients and they may not get enough of these from a low quality source. Expensive cat foods bought from small pet shops and online are also not recommended since these usually lack sufficient quality control and analysis by small-scale manufacturers. The best option is mid-priced cat food with a reputable brand. Cat food comes in two forms: dry and wet. There are several pros and cons in the choice of whether to feed your cat a dry or wet diet. The dry diet usually comes in the form of dry cat kibble. Studies have shown that cats fed with the dry diet have cleaner teeth and are less prone to gum disease. Dry food is also economical since it has longer shelf life. A primary disadvantage is that some cats with the dry diet don’t drink enough water that they would usually get from the canned diet. This potentially leads to kidney disease. An exclusive wet diet, on the other hand, has the disadvantage of making the cat prone to gaining excess weight. It is therefore necessary for the owner to get the proper balance between the two types. Always consult a vet first to determine the proper food formulation for your cat. Since an aging cat is prone to dehydration, place several water bowls that are easily accessible in areas away from the usual areas where the cat eats. Make sure that the water is changed regularly, that it is always clear and free from debris. You may need to slightly elevate the containers as arthritic cats may have a difficult time crouching low to drink. Environment An aging cat’s environment needs to be slightly modified as aging cats now require special assistance in moving around. Their litter boxes and beds must not be placed in hard-to-reach areas. Special ladders or ramps that aren’t too steep may be installed to assist them should these be located in high places. A sizeable litter box may now be required indoors as older cats already tend to avoid relieving themselves outside where conditions are damp and cold. It is also important to regularly check their waste for signs of blood and signs of disease. Health and grooming Vet visits should be more regular with aging cats, around four times a year. Aging cats are more prone to a host of diseases like heart problems, diabetes, kidney disease and others. Your vet may require additional supplements to maintain aging organs, as well as modified diets to help alleviate these diseases. Cats may also gain weight more quickly due to the fact that their metabolism grows more inefficient as they age. Dental checkups should also be done to check for signs of wear and tear as well as gum infection. Claws should be trimmed more often since elderly cats have a hard time retracting their claws. Longer claws may cause them to get caught in carpets and furniture. Overgrown claws may also hurt their pads as they walk. During baths, take extra time in wiping away the discharge around your cat’s eyes, nose, and anus using a damp soft cotton soaked in warm water. Also check the rest of the cat’s body for unusual bumps, growths and sores that may require medical attention. Elderly cats require more grooming since they won’t be flexible enough to groom themselves. Stress reduction To give your cat the proper retirement that it needs, it is necessary to provide it with a stress-free environment. If possible, avoid mixing it with other younger pets. Keep it indoors most of the time as an aging cat’s senses and reflexes to outside dangers are not as efficient as they used to be. Always line its bed with soft blankets to keep it warm and cozy. Aging cats will most likely experience joint pains and will have difficulty resting on hard surfaces. Most of all, give it your total love and affection. As it lives last stage of its nine lives, your cat will need all the love and support that it knows you can provide. Offering love and affection is the best tip when caring for aging cats.