2017-09-19 / Front Page

Elderly cats

We all know that animals have an extremely small life span, compared to humans. While average is 12-14 years, some cats can live up to 15 years or more, barring accident and illness. We can help the odds a little if we know what to do.

A good place to start is when the animal is young. Feeding cats appropriate food. Cats are meat eaters. They require two to three times the protein that dogs or humans do. Information on the label should list protein first.

A high-quality brand of cat food, either wet or dry, can be nutritionally complete. Some cats benefit from the higher moisture content of wet food, which makes their urine more dilute. But most cats do fine on dry.

It is recommended that cats be fed two times a day, because you can otherwise get some undesirable begging. Too fat, feed less, too thin, feed more. Their energy requirements will vary depending upon climate and activity levels.

If you decided to change cat food, do so over a period of five to seven days. Begin by adding 25 percent new food to 75 percent of the old food. It gives the cat time to adjust to a new food.

Many cats are kept indoors, but those that live outside should be given appropriate shelter. Many live in garages or barns. Some live on front porches, and they can be provided a small dog house or a plastic bin with a lid, lined with old rags or rugs, with a door cut out for entry. Your vet should check the cat at least once a year for evaluation.

Signs of aging that you may notice:

Reduced hearing. Cats can experience hearing loss. The loss may be barely noticeable, or in the case of some cats, the hearing loss can be total.

Cloudy or bluish eyes- Cat’s eyes often show a bluish transparent haze in the pupil area. This is a normal effect of aging. Vision does not appear to be affected. This is not the same as cataracts. Cataracts are white and opaque. Vision can be affected by cataracts, and your vet needs to be consulted.

Sleeping more than usual, not wanting to climb the cat condo as much, any difficult grooming the hard to reach areas. Difficulty going up or down the stairs and difficulty jumping up or down favorite perches.

Mild loss of muscle mass, especially the hind legs, may be seen with old age. This, too, should be called to the attention of your vet.

Excessive thirst or unexpected weight gain or loss can signal age related diseases.

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