As cats get old they may become more fussy about their food. This
elderly tortoiseshell is tucking in to canned tuna-easy on the teeth and rich in oils and calcium which are essential for
The elderly cat's appetite often changes
and it may make either increased or decreased demands for food. You must not dismiss these changes in appetite as merely faddy
or insingificant - your cat is trying to tell you something and you must listen. Your cat may also become fussier about its
food, and may become noticeably thirstier, too. The caring cat owner will always respond to the cat's messages - they may
be important to your cat's health.
Many of the dietary needs of older cats are a matter of common
sence. If your cat has had a good diet since kittenhood, it is less likely to have trouble in old age. If your cat's appetite
increases with age, it is better to give it more meals daily rather than a larger quantity at each meal.
Provide high-quality protein, such as fish, meat and poultry, and try to
give it a few vegetables, too. Mix these into the food in an attempt to disguise them, though cats are notoriously good at
sifting through their food and discarding what they don't fancy. Most brands of veterinary formulated dry prescription foods
for cats have a special formulation designed specifically for old cats. If your cat's appetite decreases with age you will
have to tempt it with tasty morsels. Failing that, talk to your vet, who may recommend vitamin B12 as an appetite stimulant.
Give more fluids if the cat wants it as denying an increased thirst (which
may be a sign of kidney failure) could be dangerous. A cat may be tempted by a little meat broth or fish soup.
The contented and well-fed elderly cat
will appreciate companionship during the day even more than when he or she was young.
Elderly cats are prone to constipation. An increased fluid intake
may help relive this, as will oily fish, such as tinned pilchards or tuna, and a little fibre in the form of bran or toasted
wholemeal breadcrumbs mixed into its food. Liquid paraffin sprinkled on its food should also help, but no more than two teaspoons
once or twice a week.
FUSSY OLD CAT?
Don't dismiss any changes in appetite that your cat displays as
merely silly fussy old cat behaviour. It's the only way your cat knows of communicating with you, and you must, in turn, be
patient, receptive and sensitive to its needs. You and your cat have been through a lot together by now and you owe it to
your cat to take notice of his or her demands, however unreasonable they may seem at the time. The changes are that your cat
knows more about what is good for its health than you do. If in doubt, talk to your vet.
DID YOU KNOW?
?Laxatives are available for cats from your
vet or from pet shops. Look for one that is made of natural ingredients, such as plant seed husks.
?An older cat is less tolerant of particularly
cold or wet conditions, and may become less eager to go out to toilet. In this case, you may have to reintroduce a litter
tray. It may seem like a nuisance, but your cat will appreciate it.
?As with humans beings,female cats usually
live for longer than male ones. Tortoiseshell cats are particularly long lived.
SPECIAL CARE FOR ELDERLY CATS
An elderly cat needs a lot more sleep than he or she did when they where
young and frisky. The best thing you can do is to provide a warm, comfortable bed (or armchair) and leave him or her to it.
Elderly cats are often excellent companions,
although they may be less sprightly and playful than they were in their younger days. Older cats do need special care, however,
if they are to enjoy their twilight years, and are likely to develop certain health and dental problems. But the two of you
will have been through a lot together , and you owe it to your eldely cat to look after it. You will need to watch over it
just as carefully as you did in its kittenhood.
As cats get older, they change physically: their strength and stammina
diminishes, their appetite often alters and they may lose a lot of weight. They tend to slow down, to become stiffer and less
mobile, to be less tolerant of cold and to sleep a lot more. A lot of the problems that a cat may suffer from as they grow
older, such as failing liver or kidneys, are difficult to diagnose in the absence of apecific sympyoms, so it's a good idea
to arrange regular check-ups with a vet every three to four months.
Old cats somtimes lose control of their bowels or bladder. Whatever
the problem, ask your vet to see if he can find the cause and, having done that ask if it is treatable as old age and assume
nothing can be done. Some cats suffer from involuntary leaking caused by cystitis, for example, which can be treated, so its
worth finding out.
Regular attention to teeth and gums
from kittenhood should prolong the usefulness of a cat's teeth.
It's not uncommon for an elderly cat to develop problems with its
teeth just like human beings such as loose teeth, gum damage and inflammation of the teeth sockets. If you've looked after
your cat's dental health when it was young, however, this is a lot less likely. Its a perticularly good idea to clean an elderly
cat's teeth once or twice a week, though if you didn't start this habit when your cat was younger, it may find it difficult
in its old age to develop any tolerance of this particular indignity.
HEARING AND EYESIGHT
Many elderly cats suffer from failing hearing and eyesight. If
this befalls your cat, you will have to protect it from dangers that it can no longer hear or see. Try not to rearrange familiar
furniture,always keep its feeding bowls in the same place, and be careful of dangers such as open fires.
DID YOU KNOW ?
?The average lifespan of the domestic cat is
15 years. Some survive beyond this, though very few cats get to 20 years of age although i have one that is just turning 19
?The record for the oldest domestic cat was
a tabby called puss who died when he was 36 years and a day.
?The manx has the reputation of being one of
the longest-lived pedigree breeds. One, called Grand Champion Nila-Blite Pola, even won a best in show award at the age of
IF YOUR CAT STRAYS
Cats have a liking for unorthodox, out-of-the-way spots which they
consider ideal for a quiet nap. When a cat disappears for this reason, owners may fear that their cat has actually gone
Although cats are regarded as domestic creatures, they still retain
the roaming instinct. This varies from cat to cat and you will quickly learn your own cat's habits. If it disappears for longer
than noemal, you may well feel anxious about its safety. However cats are far from predictable, and in all probability your
pet will return in its own good time. Meanwhile, there are a number of positive steps you can take in case your cat really
The first thing to do when your cat goes missing is to try to remember
where and when it was seen last. Was the cat inside or in the garden? Did you see it moving away from your home? In what direction
was it going?
The cat may have gone out and returned with out your noticing.
Check all the rooms, looking in cupboards and wardrobes where cats like to hide themselves away. It may be curled up asleep
somewhere behind the sofa or curtains are popular choices. Another places that is well worth checking is the kitchen,
where a cat can easily fall into a flip-top bin. Acat is a scavenging creature and if there is an interesting smell coming
from the kitchen bin, the cat will find it irresistible to investigate the contents. Once the cat perches on top of the bin,its
weight will force the lid open, and unless the cat is very alert and jumps off, it will drop into the bin and the lid will
close over its head. Unless the cat signals its position by crying, it may be some time before it is discovered. If the cat
is not in the house, check the garage and garden.
This kitten is lucky that the dusbin
lid is open. Owners should be aware of this hazard and check bins if they think their cat or kitten is missing.
If your pet has been missing for more than 12 hours, check with
your neighbours and ask them to look in their homes, gardens, garages, sheds or outbuildings. Cats are often shut up in such
places with out food or water. Once you are convinced your pet really has strayed, or if it hasn't been seen for 24 hours,
call the local veterinary surgeries and the RSPCA. If the cat has been injured, it may have been taken to them for treatment.
Put up notices in your neighbourhood. If the cat still does not return, contact the Cats Protection and the police. They may
have found your pet. They will also know if there are reports of cat thefts in the area.
TAGGING YOUR CAT
Tagging is a good precaution to take in case your cat goes missing.
Tags in the form of discs that can be put on a coller, are available in several sizes and at low cost from pet shops and veterinary
surgeries. If possible, avoid the small cylindrical tags that contain a piece of paper on which you write the cat's details.
They can be difficult to open in an emergency and do not have enough space for the necessary information. Your cat's tag should
state your address and telephone number on one side and the vets name and telephone number on the other.
DID YOU KNOW?
?Cats have remarkable homing instincts and
can travel great distances to reach home. One theory is that cats use the earth's magnetic field and the position of the sun
to find their way.
?Cats are more prone to stray at certain times
of the year. Toms for instance, stray when they'er ready to mate. Neutered males are less likely to stray, which is why it
is important to neuter them.
?A cat may stray because it's being bullied
by another cat and its territory taken over.