Keeping the Senior Years Golden

We are blessed to see many patients that have reached their Golden Oldies, and we want to help our clients ensure their pets continue to live their best lives at home. Here is a collection of tips for you to consider for all cats in your house.

An easy way to keep any cat interested in toys and play is to have a Toy Box. Collect up all those unused toys and hide them away – bring ‘new’ toys out every few days and rotate the toys. It can be amazing how much a cat appreciates an old toy after they haven’t seen it for a few days or weeks. It’s proven that two 15-minute play sessions per day will significantly reduce unwanted play behaviours.

Catios are a great way to provide a safe outside space which can greatly increase the mental stimulation and well being of cats. Even if you can’t set up a big space, cats can appreciate a small area where they can get out and smell the fresh air. Bonus points if they can put their paws on the grass!

Cats interact with their world in a 3-dimensional manner. Even a small space can be made bigger by the addition of shelves for cats to get higher up.

You can teach an old cat new tricks – consider food puzzles. Start with something super easy and be amazed at how quickly your senior cat can master even the trickiest feeding puzzle. Think of it as brain exercise for your cat. Other tricks you can teach your cat is going into the carrier on command or giving high five – the internet is filled with how-to videos.

In multi-cat households every cat should have a safe area, for some households, this may even mean ‘intermittent spatial restriction’. Having a safe, comfortable room that your senior kitty can spend some time in away from the rest of the hustle and bustle of a busy house may be appreciated.
All cats should be able to indulge in what they enjoy. Was there a particular spot that your cat always used to hang out in but now they can’t get to it anymore? How can you arrange for them to be able to reach that area again? Has one cat claimed a prized sleeping spot from another and can you re-create that area or figure out a way for them to share timed access to that space?

If you have to be away from home for long periods of time and you are worried your cat will be lonely consider leaving some music on. You can stream or download cat music or leave your favourite classical station playing on the radio.

As our cat’s age, they struggle more with maintaining their hydration. Consider adding water dishes close to sleeping areas so that your cat does not have to go far to have a drink when they are thirsty.

As cats get stiffer, they may be less able or willing to groom. Spending some time patting them with grooming gloves can double as a massage and grooming in one. While your cat may have tolerated brushes and combs when they were younger as they lose muscle mass we have to consider more gentle tools like rubber combs or grooming gloves. It can double as one on one bonding time with the cat.

Arthritis can also affect a cat’s ability to get onto favourite sleeping spots, consider investing in stairs or ramps. An arthritic cat will also appreciate a heated cat bed to sleep in and raised food dishes so that they don’t have to bend so low to eat.

While kitty may have been willing and able to run down two flights of stairs as a younger cat to answer the call of nature, as your kitty ages we strongly recommend a litter box on each level of the house. Another consideration is the style of the litter box as your cat ages. Mature cats should be offered a litter box with a low edge, and their litterboxes should be larger as they often cannot crouch as low as they once did. A good option is an under-bed storage box with one end cut shorter for entering and exiting.

Some small modifications to your house might mean the world to your cat, and in the end isn’t our goal to keep our cats as happy as possible?

Written by: Dr. Tasha Kean, Veterinarian