Do Cats Get Picky When They Get Older?

When older cats seem picky, something else may be going on.

When older cats seem picky, something else may be going on.

Sabrina is still your little princess after all these years, but she’s surely slowing down in her old age. Senior felines are often pickier than they were in their younger years because their senses are declining. She’s not trying to frustrate you; she just can’t see or taste as well as she used to.

Litter Box Issues

Sabrina has been using the same type of covered litter box and identical brand of litter for over a decade. Why in the world is she suddenly going next to the box, rather than inside it? She’s not being picky; her achy joints are making it harder for her to get into the box. Replace her old covered box with a large, shallow, lidless box, so she can more easily get in and out. If you have a home with multiple levels or lots of space, put several litter boxes out for your aging chum. She may have a hard time holding it all the way to the basement, and that increases her chances of having accidents.

Refusing to Eat

You’ve had Sabrina on the exact same food for years. Suddenly she goes, sniffs at her dish, and walks away, completely uninterested. It’s possible that she has a bad tooth, and her crunchy kibble is difficult to eat. Maybe her sense of smell isn’t as strong, and the food doesn’t smell meaty to her anymore. Soaking her kibble in a little warm water softens it up and also gives it a stronger aroma, enticing her to eat. You can also mix in wet food, or switch completely to canned food. Talk with your veterinarian before you change her diet. It’s especially important for senior felines to have a food high in protein, water and fat -- assuming she isn’t overweight. Your vet can help you select a brand that suits your kitty's specific needs.

Being Antisocial

For as long as you’ve had her, Sabrina has been the life of the party, always coming up to greet everyone, and being a mother figure to the rest of your feline brood. Now that she’s in her golden years, she wants nothing to do with anyone -- human or fur-covered -- other than you. She’s not being picky about whom she graces with her presence, she’s just not seeing or hearing too well nowadays, and being close to you is comforting for her. Don’t force her to be out where she’s uncomfortable, just let her be. If she wants to come out and socialize, she’ll make it out when she feels like it.

Other Considerations

Keep up on Sabrina’s regular vet exams, especially as she gets older. Frequent accidents, refusing food and picking fights with other kitties can be normal parts of the aging process, but changed behavior can also signal a more serious medical problem. She could have a bladder infection, severe dental problem or a significant loss of vision or hearing, just to name a few issues.

About the Author

Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images