Your 15-year-old senior is still able to chase a ball and tackle her catnip mouse thanks to advanced health care and nutrition for mature kitties. Cats are living longer because owners are providing the healthiest and highest quality of life for their graying cats.
Visit the veterinarian every six months instead of once a year. As your kitty ages, you want to keep atop of any possible conditions. Set up appointments with your veterinarian for regular dental cleanings and discuss a vaccination schedule with your vet. Since older cats have a less effective immune system, vaccinations are important; still, look into the risks of allergic reactions.
Examine your cat weekly. Remove her collar and hold onto the scruff -- the loose skin on the back of her neck. Look at her teeth for tartar buildup; most tartar begins on the back teeth as a yellow-to-brown hard deposit on the tooth surface. Your veterinarian will have to remove it. Check for swollen gums, which can be the beginning of periodontal disease. Examine the ear canals for black deposits that indicate ear mites.
Brush and comb your kitty daily. Older cats are not as capable of grooming effectively. Comb a short-haired cat from the head to tail; a long-haired cat needs to be brushed up and outward to remove dead hair. Remove any knots with a comb. Brushing not only helps remove tangles, it increases blood circulation and enables you to check for possible lumps and bumps in her thinning skin.
Weigh Kitty monthly by weighing yourself and recording the number. Then hold your kitty while you weigh yourself again. Subtract the difference and you have your kitty's weight. Older cats may gain weight because of inactivity or lose weight because of picky eating habits, cancer, diabetes or kidney failure. Keep a record of her weight to share with your veterinarian.
Provide your kitty with a diet formulated for her senior years. Senior kibble is high in omega-6 fatty acids to nourish her coat and skin. Senior food also has antioxidants that boost her immune system as well as high-quality protein and joint health supplements. As with all kitty food, look for the Association of American Feed Control Officials statement on the packaging. Kibble with the AAFCO statement proves demonstrates that the manufacturer has followed guidelines provided by the association for quality food.
Move the litter box to an easy area for her to access. If it's in the basement, move it to the main floor. Consider cutting down the sides, if she has difficulty getting into the box.
- Play with your kitty daily to help avoid muscle atrophy and improve circulation. Watch for labored breathing, though.
- Warm her food to room temperature to make it more palatable. A few seconds in the microwave is all you need. If the kibble is difficult for her to chew, add a little warm water.
- Examine her toenails and make arrangements for nails to be trimmed. Older cats may not use a scratching post.
- Avoid letting her outside if her hearing and eyesight have diminished.
- Avoid bringing a new pet into the house. Your senior cat doesn't need the stress.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.