When someone makes the decision to adopt and care for a senior cat it melts our hearts. So often these sweet souls are at the end of the adoption line – and we all know what that means. Those with hearts big enough to adopt a senior cat know it can also mean adopting unknown health or behavior issues.
Preparing a ‘toolbox’ of resources is helpful when adopting a cat of any age. This is especially important for our senior kitties. More than 90% of cats over the age of 10 will experience dental disease, arthritis, or the onset of digestive or organ issues. The number one reason older cats are returned to a shelter is often because of a behavioral issue. This makes being prepared with the right resources the change-maker for happy and healthy transition into a final, forever home for a senior cat.
How do I care for a senior cat?
- Bi-Annual Vet Visits. Make a commitment to your senior cat to be proactive about any health issues. A full physical and running a full blood panel twice a year is needed to catch any brewing problems. It’s also needed if there are existing issues that need regular attention.
- Diet. Food is foundational for health. Providing a species appropriate diet is key for all kitties – and especially when it comes to care for a senior cat. A high protein, moisture rich diet (never kibble/dry food) is biologically needed for proper nutrition and organ function. Even if a cat has only been fed dry food their entire lives, a species appropriate diet can add years to the life of a senior cat.
- Feline Behaviorists. It’s hard (and often heartbreaking) to imagine the things a senior cat has experienced in their lifetime. Engrained behaviors like aggression or marking can seem insurmountable. But they’re not with the help of a professional trained to help us understand why these behaviors are happening. Find a keep a Feline Behaviorist in your toolbox.
- Enrichment. Keeping our older cats moving is so important. Keeping their senses stimulated is also so important for their mental and emotional health. Regular engaged playtime, puzzle toys, supervised outdoor time, cat grasses and herbs – all help keep our senior cats (and all cats) enriched and excited about LIFE!
- LOVE. Goes without saying, right? Love is is about compassion, understanding, selflessness and respect. It’s the one ingredient truly required to care for a senior cat. Or any cat or family member. Learning how to love sometimes takes time and patience… and it’s worth every step of the journey.