Over the years, your furry companion may fail to groom himself as well as he used to, possibly leading to matted fur and dandruff on his coat. A little help grooming will help prevent these issues -- but visit the vet to rule out a medical cause.
Kitties are naturally fastidious creatures who keep their fur clean and free of dirt and odors. As your furry friend ages, he may reach a point where he's unable to maneuver around the way he used to, making grooming difficult or even painful for him due to conditions like arthritis. Without proper grooming, your little guy can quickly develop a matted, dandruff-ridden coat.
The best way to treat and prevent matting and dandruff is by brushing your kitty daily and cleaning his fur with a damp washcloth. Brushing his fur gets rid of mats and stimulates his circulation, reducing dandruff and making his coat clean and shiny, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Use premoistened pet wipes, found in pet supply stores, to wipe down the coat, leaving behind a pleasant scent and conditioning agents for the fur and skin.
While a lack of grooming sometimes is just part of old age, many times there may be a medical cause for it in your elderly feline. Illnesses such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, hypertension and kidney problems can cause dandruff and matted fur, and these conditions are common in older kitties. To rule out such issues, visit the vet with your kitty to check for signs of a medical problem. Your vet will also check your senior feline's weight: Obesity, common in elderly cats, can result in a lack of grooming due to the excess weight on your kitty's frame.
Treatment for an illness should make your senior furbaby feel better, allowing him to properly groom himself. Your vet may prescribe medication to help alleviate pain from conditions like arthritis and improve his mobility. The vet can remove serious mats from your kitty's coat and properly groom him so he looks clean and neat. A vet will also check your cat's coat for signs of parasites or infections.
Proper nutrition is important for a senior kitty, especially because he can easily become obese as he plays less and sleeps more. Between ages 7 and 10, your kitty is considered a senior and requires food designed for an older kitty. Foods designed for elderly felines contain fewer calories and more fiber to keep your little one feeling fuller, longer. These foods also contain higher amounts of ingredients like vitamin E, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help alleviate dry skin and dandruff issues, keeping the coat moisturized and shiny. Fatty acids can also help alleviate pain from arthritis in an older kitty, helping him clean himself more easily, according to the VetInfo website. When feeding your kitty, remember to follow the manufacturer's recommended serving suggestions, based on your furry companion's weight, so that your elderly feline doesn't become obese.
While you'll probably be able to brush out any mats from your kitty's coat, use caution when doing so and visit your vet or groomer to remove serious matting of the fur -- mats that meet the skin. You don't want to accidentally harm your little guy, so letting a professional groomer do it is the best choice for removing extensive matting. The mats and dandruff can lead to skin irritation and infections if left untreated, so it's important to keep the coat well groomed. To reduce the chances of your furry buddy's coat becoming dirty and matted, keep him indoors so the fur won't become filled with dirt and debris. Engage your senior kitty in light exercise with some toys to keep him mobile and reduce the chances of him becoming obese and unable to clean himself.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Messy Beast: Growing Old Gracefully
- 2ndchance.info: The Special Needs of Older Cats -- Caring for Your Elderly Feline
- VetInfo: Causes of Dry Skin on Cats
- Catster: Cat Dandruff: Is It Something to Worry About?
- Cat Channel: Cats Can Shine in Their Golden Years
- VetInfo: Benefits of Giving a Cat Omega Fatty Acids
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Hyperthyroidism in the Cat
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.