Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

5 New Kitten Care Tips
5 New Kitten Care Tips

Caring For Your Aging Cat: 9 Common Conditions & What To Do

by | Nov 21, 2022 | Cat Behavior & Care | 19 comments

Caring For Your Aging Cat: 9 Common Conditions & What To Do

November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month–celebrating old cats. Adopting a mature kitty can mean years of furry love–Seren nearly lived to celebrate her 22nd birthday, and still rules my heart from beyond the Rainbow Bridge. She inspired my work in countless ways, and also gave me first-hand (paw?) experience for caring for aging cats.

Dealing with Old Cat Health

Seren-kitty not only inspired my Complete Kitten Care book when she was a take-no-prisoners baby, but she also inspired the Complete Care for Your Aging Cat book several years later.

old Siamese cat

And Seren inspired me every day when my own creaky joints acted up. Getting older is NOT for weenies, but it’s not a sentence for chaining yourself (or your cat) to a rocking chair. These days, Karma-Kat has reached “middle age” but we’ve already begun some of these old cat health aids. Learn what’s considered “old” in cats in this blog post.

Of course, cancer also affects our old pets, and we see a higher incidence of breast cancer in Siamese cats. But there are also some simple and/or inexpensive ways from the book that owners can help keep an aging cat happy and healthy.

9 Old Cat Health Conditions

  1. About 75 percent of senior cats have arthritis. When creaky joints hurt, she can’t perform cat-yoga stretches to groom herself and may become matted. Place kitty’s bed under a lamp for soothing heat to loosen up creaky joints. Gentle massage works well, and over-the-counter supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine-type products also help.
  2. Does the water bowl run dry? Does your cat urinate a lot? Diabetes could be an issue. High protein diets can reverse diabetes in some cats—your vet will determine this. Meanwhile, add litter boxes on each floor and both ends of the house so kitty has quick access to the facilities.
  3. Old cats often get fat, which aggravates arthritis and can lead to obesity. Slim tubby tabbies by setting the food bowl on top of a cat tree so she must move to eat. And place a portion of her meal inside a puzzle toy so she must “hunt” to shake out the food. I use cat puzzle toys for Karma-Kat to keep his furry tail moving.
  4. Deaf cats often become more vocal and “holler” from the next room when they can’t hear you. Use vibration or visual cues to alert your deaf pet to your presence. Stomp your foot when you enter the room, for example, or flick lights on and off to avoid startling the cat. Learn about living with deaf pets.
  5. With age, cats lose their sense of smell so that food is less appealing and they snub the bowl. Heat makes odors more pungent. Zapping the food in the microwave for 10 seconds may be all that’s necessary to stimulate a flagging appetite.
  6. Constipation develops when the cat’s digestion doesn’t “move” as well as in youth. Added fiber can promote regularity. Many cats love the flavor of canned pumpkin, a natural high fiber treat. Buy a large can, and divide into single servings in ice cube trays, and freeze—then thaw just what you need. Once or twice a week should be enough to keep kitty regular.
  7. Seventy-five percent of cats have dental problems by age two, and the risk increaaging cat bookses 20 percent for each year of your cat’s life. Commercial “dental diets” can be helpful, as can chicken or malt-flavored pet toothpaste. Offer a taste of toothpaste as a treat—the enzyme action breaks down plaque even if kitty won’t let you brush her teeth. Also, entice your cat to chew by offering thumb-size hunks of cooked steak. For toothless cats that have trouble eating dry foods, run small amounts of dry food in the blender with low-salt chicken broth for a softer alternative.
  8. Blind cats adjust so well and the loss is so gradual that you may not notice a problem—until you rearrange the furniture. So status quo your décor to help your cat can remember a mental map of the household. Place baby gates at stairs or other danger zones to protect blind cats from a misstep. Offer fair warning with sound cues about your location to prevent startling the blind cat. Scent can help identify important landmarks for the cat. Try dabbing a bit of mint on wall corners or tying catnip toys to furniture. “Bell” the other pets so the blind cat knows they’re near. Learn more tips for helping other-abled pets.
  9. Senility—yes, cats can get kitty Alzheimer’s, especially those over 14 years. These felines become confused, forget where to potty, cry, and may not recognize you. It’s heartbreaking for pets and owners alike. The drug Anipryl from your vet temporarily reverses signs in a percentage of cats, but the supplement Cholodin FEL also works pretty well. Delay the onset of senility in all cats by exercising the feline brain with play, games and puzzles.

What are some other “home care” tips that have worked well for YOUR “golden oldie” kitty? Have you discovered some awesome care product that makes life easier for you, and more comfy for your pet? What are the “old cat” issues that you deal with? Please share!

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

19 Comments

  1. Left-Brained Business for Write-Brained People

    So much good information here. We live on 30+ acres with a 17-year-old indoor/outdoor cat. Though her eyesight is failing and we’ve had more than a few chuckles over her sporatic “forgetfulness”, she is just as curious, cunning & courageous as she ever was. She’s our first alert at encroaching frogs, lizards or snakes of any stripe, and any rodent is dispatched with efficiency, almost as if she uses ESP. She likes nothing better than an open window on a clear day so she can leap in and out of the house on her own terms. She’s noisy when she’s mad, playful when she’s happy, and stands her ground when provoked. No one who meets her can believe she’s a senior cat because the only easily visible sign is the two white whiskers she now sports (she’s a totally black cat). Just like the baby boomers she lives with, with a good diet, exercise and stimulating activities there’s no reason for her not to tap into her inner-kitty whenever the mood strikes. She moves slower somedays, probably from arthritis, but let’s nothing stop her. Loved your tips, Amy, and will keep them in mind as my cat moves deeper into the years–some I can already use, and others will keep her life more positive later on. Thank you!

    • amyshojai

      Awww…17 is a great age, and so glad she’s still enjoying her “kingdom.” One day I noticed that Seren had tiny salt-and-pepper hairs around her eyes but that’s the only white I’ve noticed with her. She’s always been vocal but now she’s much louder–I think because of some hearing loss. So glad the tips could help!

  2. Karyl Cunningham

    Simba’s bed is right under the window – prime sun-spot space. She’s sleeping in the windowsill right now though because her sun moved. LOL She’ll probably move to the chair later (that chair belongs to the cats now, so covered in hair we’ll never get it off). Can’t get the little butthead to eat any of those supplements though. Apparently all the ones I can find here don’t smell good to her.

    Poor baby does drink and pee a lot. Though in her case last I heard from the vet was that it was a good thing because it’ll keep her urinary issues down.

    Of course I think I already mentioned that I bought a puzzle toy for her, which she ignores. Anubis loves it, though, and so she just waits for him to miss a piece when he’s playing with it. Figures.

    I really wish we could give Anubis the steak for his teeth, but it seems his tummy can’t handle it anymore. He used to be just fine with beef, now he horcs it right back up.

    “Blind cats adjust so well and the loss is so gradual that you may not notice a problem” I don’t think Simba got that memo. LOL She’s not even totally blind but I swear she crosses her eyes when she’s trying to focus on something, and still hasn’t figured out that she has a whole bunch of other senses she can use. Doofus.

    One of these days I want to get one of those heated pet pets for the fuzzballs to use in the winter.

    • amyshojai

      This year at the CWA conference there were 3 heated pet beds in the door prizes–I really wanted one! Seren also follows the sun, as much for the “spotlight” effect (she knows she’s beautiful, I tell her all the time).

  3. Julie Glover

    This information is awesome, Amy! I have an almost-16 year old cat who is still in great shape. I credit the two kittens we brought into his life for keeping him young by playing with him regularly. He does seem to have bladder issues at times, though. I am printing this post and keeping it nearby for reference as he (Shadow) ages. Thanks!

    • amyshojai

      Oh good, Julie! Glad it was helpful. Scritches to Shadow. *s*

  4. Lola The Rescued Cat

    We’re not kittens anymore, but we’re still on the young side. This is good info for mom to keep on hand as we age.

    • Amy Shojai

      Cats age very gracefully so may your youth last for many cat-lives!

  5. MARJORIE DAWSON

    Our seniors get creaky but still love to be active. A cat is playful even when it gets older. Peanut (RIP) was 19.5 and still had a mad half hour several times a week.

    We still do our best to care for and honour our seniors. we love them very much and your post gave me several points to check up on.

    • Amy Shojai

      Thank you Marjorie. Something for folks to remember re: cat play….stalking & watching is PART of play. So even the very old kitties who don’t dash madly about will enjoy and engage in games of “watch the feather” and that’s exercise for the kitty brain.

  6. Sweet Purrfections

    I remember Praline loved to rest in the sunbeams that came through the windows and doors as she aged.

    • Amy Shojai

      Those sunbaths help a bunch…sort of a shiny massage, I like to think!

  7. Beth (@dailydogtag)

    My mom’s senior cat is failing quickly, the vet said there is nothing left to do for her. I just called my mom and told her about warming up the chicken broth (she isn’t eating anymore,) The cat drank a little of it. Our hope is to keep her comfortable for as long as possible.

    • Amy Shojai

      Beth, so sorry to hear that about your mom’s cat. Glad that the warmed chicken broth helped. Yes, keeping her comfy as long as you can is probably the best bet.

  8. dexitydex

    I love the tip about the pumpkin. Trudy, a calico, is fifteen years young. What she leaves in the litter box seems hard as rocks to me sometimes when I’m scooping though she doesn’t seem to have any problems. She turns her little nose up at almost all treats but maybe I’ll experiment and see what she thinks of pumpkin. Thanks, Amy!

    • Amy Shojai

      Hope it helps Trudy! You must be doing lots right for her to be 15 and doing so well. *s*

  9. JaneA Kelley

    When my cats got older, the thing they liked best was a nice, warm bed. I bought a heated cat bed, and it was the best investment I ever made: both my Siouxsie Mew and my Thomas spent many happy hours curled up in it. One thing I’d add is that a lot of older cats get kidney disease, and part of managing kidney disease is administering subQ fluids. To make it easier on you and your cat, warm the fluids in a bath of hot tap water for 5-10 minutes. Then run the fluids through the line until they run warm before sticking your kitty with the needle. Warm fluids are a lot more comfortable for the cat than cold ones and will probably make the fluids-giving experience a lot better.

    I advise against warming the fluids in the microwave because many microwaves heat unevenly and can cause areas of scalding-hot fluids and areas of cold ones. When you warm the fluids in a pot of hot water, though, don’t submerge the part of the bag that’s been spiked; doing so could cause tap water to contaminate your cat’s fluids.

    • amyshojai

      Fantastic information, JaneA, thank you for posting! I know Siouxsie Mew and Thomas were fortunate to have you caring for them.

  10. Alan

    I love cats and dogs very much. I have two cats: 11 years old and 7 years old. I feed stray cats and dogs and have a few kittens and one puppy. I urge everyone to help homeless animals. All health and well-being.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . The Twinkie is Dead « Bayard & Holmes - [...] Caring for Your Aging Cat: 9 Common Conditions & What to Do [...]
  2. Caring For Your Aging Cat: 9 Common Conditions & What To Do ... | Caring for Cats | Scoop.it - [...] That's why I wrote the book Complete Care for Your Aging Cat because medical help is important–but the book…
  3. Old Cats? How to Tell Your Cat is Old - […] Veterinarians used to concentrate their efforts on caring for young animals. When pets began to develop age-related problems, the…
  4. Pet Insurance: What You Need to Know to Choose Insurance For Pets - […] you have pet insurance for your cats and dogs? If you have an aging cat or a dog that’s…
  5. Amy Shojai Wins Friskies Cat Writer of the Year AwardAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] to all my new visitors. I suspect my article on senior cats may have led you here. Today’s blog…

Categories:

Recent Posts

7 Tips How to Prepare Cats, Dogs, and People for Holiday Visits

How to Prepare Cats, Dogs, and People for Holiday Visits

Holiday celebrations include visiting family and friends. It also means keeping pets safe during the holidays. Since we consider cats and dogs part of the family, pet holiday visits require special preparations. Changes to routine can increase fear, anxiety, and stress in everyone, and especially our pets. Hitting the road also raises stress levels, so unless your pets adore car travel, prepare with advice in this article. Here are some tips for reducing the angst once you arrive, so that everyone enjoys family pet holiday visits.

How to Prepare If Pets Outlive You

We often lament the fact that dogs and cats don’t live as long as we do. But what about the reverse—what if your pets live longer than you do? Are there legal protections you can take in planning for when your pets outlive you? We loved them dearly while alive, and must also care for them when we’re gone with proper plans. And yes, it can happen totally out of the blue.

The unthinkable happens, even to animal professionals. Back in 2014, in the same week, our pet community felt rocked by the tragic and sudden deaths of two heroes, animal behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin and Cat Writers Association president Dr. Lorie Huston. Dr. Yin left behind her beloved dog Jonesy, while my friend Lorie left six special needs rescue cats. CWA members networked to re-home Lorie’s cats. More recently, the Cat Writers’ Association again lost a beloved leader when president Paula Gregg passed away suddenly. She had time to make plans for her beloved Persian cats, Truffle and Brulee.

None of these wonderful pet lovers expected to have their pets outlive them. Do you have plans for your special pets? Here are tips for planning for when your pets outlive you.

Old Pets? 7 Cheap DIY Help for Old Fogey Dogs & Cats

Like older pets, I also move a wee bit slower than in my youth. Shadow-Pup helps keep me active and young, as well as chasing and engaging the more mature Karma-Kat. Aging dogs and senior cats rock!

I’ll admit that senior pets have a special place in my heart, even if they suffer from senility. Maybe in part because I can more easily relate to them. Do you love old pets? Are you ready for some old dog and/or old cat love? Oh, here are 7 cheap DIY tips to help your old pets.

Counting Thanksgiving Blessings, the Pet Writer Way in 2022

Time for my annual Count My Blessings post. The past year has meant change, change, and more change, and that’s good and also challenging. But some things never change…I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog, my newspaper column, the cat book lovers, and the dog book lovers, and folks who have “adopted” my thriller series. And those who offered awesome applause and support any of the other venues mentioned…

8 Common Old Dog Health Conditions & What To Do

When November rolls around each year we take time to celebrate the many blessings we’ve enjoyed, including our old dogs. Pet people, of course, give thanks for their animal companions, and November traditionally is Adopt A Senior Pet Month. Do you share your life with an old fogey dog? Maybe your old girl dog leaks urine when lying down—is that common, and what can you do about it? My current doggy companion, Shadow-Pup, has reached teenager status. Bravo-Dawg lost his life to cancer before becoming a senior doggy. But his predecessor, Magic, still lives on in my heart. During his final years, we battled several old dog health conditions.

Celebrating Old Dogs: What Is Old?

Each November, we celebrate old dogs during their “official” month. But when is your dog considered old? We love our senior citizen dogs for the special joy they bring every day. But once a year, we celebrate old dogs during November Adopt A Senior Pet Month.

What is considered “old?” There are individual differences between pets, just as there are for people. While one person may act, look and feel “old” at fifty-five, another fifty-five-year-old remains active with a youthful attitude and appearance. Aging is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and health care over a lifetime. The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived for twenty-nine years and five months…

I’ve written about how to care for an elderly dog before, but this post addresses how to know when your canine friends become old dogs.

Celebrating Old Cats: What Is Old?

Every year, I write about our old cat needs. While Karma-Kat has just reached middle age, cats age at different rates. When do you consider your cat old? Is your old cat a senior kitty by age 8, or 13, or…when? For cats, what is old? Here’s how the experts define ‘old age’ in cats…

Sweet Pet Poison: Your Guide to Cat & Dog Antifreeze Poisoning

Pets often get into poisons by accidentally eating the wrong plant, or other dangerous toxins. With the pending change in the weather and when temperatures fall, cat and dog antifreeze poisoning becomes a danger.

You’ll find antifreeze in surprising places, not just in the garage. For instance, the liquid in snow globes can poison pets when the toy breaks. Not long ago, social media shared many stories of antifreeze poisoning cats from the liquid in broken snow globes. The liquid tastes sweet, so it’s very appealing for sweet-loving dogs to drink or lick up spills on the garage floor. Puppies are the worst, eating anything that doesn’t move faster than they do. Cats also are at risk when they walk through puddles and lick/groom the liquid off their body. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pets safe–and maybe save their life!

Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Cancer. We whisper the word, fear the consequences, and our hearts break when cancer touches loved ones, including furry family members. But according to veterinary specialists, cancer is the most treatable—and curable!—of any chronic pet disease.

November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. We lost our Bravo-Dawg in the winter after a valiant fight, and you can read the first post here. The amazing folks at Morris Animal Foundation address many kinds of cancer and have funded numerous studies and even trained researchers to continue the search for the cure.

According to Dr. David Haworth, president and CEO of Morris, “One in 2 dogs will develop cancer, and 1 in 4 dogs will die of the disease.  The Foundation leverages the best minds in veterinary medicine and science to work on understanding the cause (funding over 40 studies on cancer in dogs at any given time…).” Read more about what you need to know …

Pet Veteran Love: 8 Reasons to Adopt Senior Cats & Dogs

There’s a good chance if you visited your local shelter today, you’d meet a pet who prefers couch cuddling to counter surfing, knows that shoes aren’t for chewing and is eagerly waiting to show you how to slow down and soak up life. I’m talking about senior pets!

November is #AdoptASeniorPetMonth, so if there is room in your 🏠 and ❤️, now is the perfect time to head to the shelter to find a grey-muzzled pet with plenty of love left to give!

Visit Amy's Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships

Privacy Preference Center