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By: David Beart
Our cats become a part of the family over time. But unlike humans, who are considered elderly at 60 or 65, cats are considered "senior citizens" at the ripe old age of 10. It is important to understand the proper care of cats at all stages of life. A kitten cannot be fed, groomed, medicated, and treated the same way as an elderly cat. Here is a guide to proper Elderly Cat Care.
Most pet supply stores sell specially formulated cat foods that are designed to provide proper health and nutrition to elderly cats. Some formulas assist with proper digestion, since this can often be a problem with older cats. Senior cats cannot assimilate their food in their digestive tracts in the same way that they did when they were youngsters.
Older cats can also have problems with their teeth that cause them to eat less. This is why it is important to maintain good dental hygiene in cats at a young age by either brushing, taking them to the veterinarian for a cleaning, or feeding them snacks that clean their teeth. If your elderly cat eats less, it may be due to a toothache, thus it is sometimes ideal to feed them softer foods, mostly wet, canned foods, so that chewing their dinner won't be as much of an obstacle.
Many cat owners find that their cat's coat becomes dull with age. This is due to poor nutrition. Feed your older cat a diet rich in essential fatty acids to fix this problem. When organisms, including cats, get older, they have an increased production of free radicals in the body. Free radicals contribute to the degeneration of cells in the body. Help build up the immune system of your beloved cat by increasing his or her intake of vitamin C and E.
Finally, you want your cat to remain active in old age. The more energetic activities your cat participates in the better health it will remain in. If you allow your cat to become obese it will lay around the house and have reduced quality of life, as well as a decrease in general health. Watch your pet's eating habits and assure that it is not overeating, or eating as a recreation as some cats do.
Grooming Elderly Cats
Another element of proper Elderly Cat Care is grooming. When cats age, they sometimes stop grooming themselves with the same frequency as they did when they were younger. This can create a matted fur coat that is dirty and smells bad. Bad hygiene will eventually lead to bad health. Because of this, it is important that you groom your eldery cat yourself. Purchase a good cat brush that doesn't just brush the outer coat, but one with bristles that reach down to the skin to pull up old hair.
It sometimes helps to give your cat a bath, even though most cats hate them with a passion. The best way to wash a cat is to place them in the tub and gradually introduce water. You certainly don't want to throw them into the tub with hot water running inside! You may get a deep claw mark in the arm that will never heal and remind you to never do that again. If you apply water gradually to the cat's coat until they are completely wet and then work in some shampoo quickly, you should be able to accomplish that goal.
Vet Visits and Medication
When your cat grows into old age, it may have health complications that require regular medication. You should schedule a regular vet appointment for your elderly cat to assure that you are keeping up with all details of its health regimen. In older age, cats may seem fine but still have complications. Ask your veterinarian to give your cat a blood and urine test to find out if there is anything to be concerned about to head off any future problems. Going back to dental care, most older cats develop gum disease which can lead to health problems down the line. Gum disease can be treated by your veterinarian.
Just as with a human who has to take daily medication, if your cat has been prescribed to take medications on a daily basis it is helpful to keep everything in one place as a reminder. You do not want to miss a day of any crucial medication as the system of your older cat is much more delicate than those of younger cats.
Insurance companies are coming to recognize the love that people have for their pets. Thus, there are many new pet insurance products popping up on the market. It is best to enroll your pet into an insurance program at a younger age to assure a more reasonable premium, but you may still be able to enroll your elderly cat into an insurance program where his or medical bills will be partly covered in the case of a medical emergency. Some pet insurance companies will charge anywhere from $20-$50 per month per cat, depending on their particular situation.
The costs of pet surgeries and treatments can be way out of the budget of most households, so having a pet insurance plan to back you up can be a great asset. It will also give you peace of mind about your cat as it ages.
Activities of the Elderly Cat
The activity level of elderly cats vary. Some cats become inactive and spend most of their day sleeping or sitting. But other cats can be just as active in old age as they were in their younger days. These cats may still like to play with you, run, and chase the other cats around the house, but you just need to be understanding that they may not be able to participate in these games for as long as they used to. For example, a game cats love to play is "chase their owner." Instead of letting them chase you up and down the stairs as you did when they were young, maybe you could keep the activity to one level of the house. That way you will not overexert your cat and help prolong his time spent active.
Most cat experts agree that a cat is generally healthy and happy when they are "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed." Another indication of a healthy cat is a lustrous, shiny coat, and a tail that sticks straight up in the air when the cat is walking. Proper elderly cat care is dire if you love your senior cat and want to keep it in good physical health.
About The Author
David Beart is owner of the http://www.professorshouse.com Professors House, a site dedicated to family, relationships, http://www.professorshouse.com/pets/cats/cats.aspx cat information, and household issues.