The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Did You Know That Cats Are Officially ‘Seniors’ By The Time They Reach 10 Years of Age?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Did You Know That Cats Are Officially ‘Seniors’ By The Time They Reach 10 Years of Age?

Cats are officially “seniors” by the time they reach 10 years of age. Fortunately, kitties today often live well into their teens and even their early 20s, so a 10-year-old healthy “senior” cat still has lots of living left to do!

At 10 to 12 years, most cats have slowed down a bit and tend to feel more stress in response to changes in their routine or environment. Cats at this age can also begin to develop the same types of health problems older people face, including arthritis, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease. That’s why it’s so important to bring your cat for twice-yearly wellness visits with your veterinarian. The sooner a change in your kitty’s health is identified and addressed, the better the long-term outcome.

At 13 to 15 years, many cats experience some loss of vision and hearing, and can also develop age-related cognitive dysfunction. Kitties at this age tend to do a lot more napping and may grow a little crabby and easily annoyed. Frequent checkups in which your vet performs a complete geriatric workup are essential to maintaining your cat’s good health.

One can compare a cat of 16 to an 80-year-old human. A kitty at 16 or older is moving and thinking more slowly than he once did, and he probably has a few age-related health issues. He’s likely not as alert or responsive as he once was. It’s a good idea to keep a journal of any changes you notice in your pet, including his appetite and water consumption, signs of constipation or incontinence, aggressive behavior, or mental confusion. Signs that a cat is in pain can include hiding, panting, shortness of breath, teeth grinding, loss of interest in food, or reluctance to move around.

There are many things owners of senior cats can do to help their pet enjoy a good quality of life in their golden years. These include feeding the right nutrition, providing opportunities for exercise and environmental enrichment, offering supplements that are especially beneficial for older cats, providing multiple easy-in/easy-out litter boxes, and setting aside time each day to have positive interactions with their pet.
By Dr. Becker

By the time your cat reaches the age of 10, she’s officially a feline senior citizen. The good news is that many cats today are living into their late teens and even early 20s. With the proper care, a kitty in good health at 10 can easily live another 8, 10, or even 12 years.

So there’s no need to panic if your purr-y companion is getting older, but it IS time to start taking some steps to insure your pet stays as happy and healthy as possible throughout her senior and geriatric years.

But first, let’s take a look at how cats show signs of aging and what you can expect as your kitty gets older.

What to Expect at 10 to 12 Years
By the time most kitties turn 10, they have slowed down a little (or a lot, depending on how high-energy they were as youngsters). You might notice your cat isn’t jumping up on high surfaces as much anymore, or isn’t climbing to the uppermost spot on the cat tree.

And while all cats, regardless of age, do best with a consistent daily routine, older cats can become especially stressed when presented with anything new or different in their environment.

You might also notice your kitty doesn’t always run right out to greet you when you get home. He may not initiate play as often as he once did, and he may take more naps.  

Many cats also become more vocal as they age, and more fearful of strange or loud noises and unfamiliar people.

Older cats can also suffer from many of the same health challenges older humans face, including arthritis, diabetes, thyroid problems, and kidney disease, so it’s really important to bring your cat for twice-yearly wellness visits with your veterinarian. The sooner a change in your kitty’s health is identified and addressed, the easier it will be to resolve or manage the problem.

At veterinary visits, be sure to mention any and all behavior changes you’ve noticed in your cat, no matter how minor, as these can provide important clues about health problems that may be brewing under the surface. It’s also important you and your vet keep regular tabs on your cat’s weight, to assure she isn’t gaining or shrinking over time.

What to Expect at 13 to 15 Years
From 13 to 15 years of age, not only are most cats moving quite a bit slower than they once did, many are also experiencing at least some loss of vision and hearing. They may also have less tolerance for cold temperatures.

Elderly cats can develop age-related dementia, making small changes in their environment or routine increasingly stressful. Some older kitties are also easily confused.

Along with more napping and less activity, your senior cat may grow a bit cranky and easily irritated. If your household includes young children or a rambunctious dog, everyone will need to learn to approach kitty in a quiet, non-aggressive manner. And if yours is a multi-pet household, it’s important not to allow your aging cat to be bullied by younger pets who may sense a change in the natural pecking order.

You may also notice that your cat prefers to spend more time alone these days. You can enhance his feelings of safety and security by making his favorite hideout a warm, comfy little spot he can retreat to whenever he likes. But keep in mind that senior cats still need to interact with their humans regularly, so set aside some time each day to spend with your pet. You can engage him in gentle play, an ear scratching session, or some brushing or combing.

As I mentioned earlier, your cat is now at the age where twice-yearly veterinary checkups are essential in order to safeguard his health. Your vet will perform a geriatric workup, including a physical exam and blood, urine, and stool sample tests. The results of these tests will provide a snapshot of how well your cat’s organs are functioning, and point to any potential problems.

Your vet will also check the condition of your kitty’s coat and skin, his footpads and nails, and his teeth and gums.


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