Did we ever mention our mobility harnesses can be used on cats as well? At Help ‘Em Up, our harnesses have been used on many types of pets! With October 29 being National Cat Day, we decided to turn our focus to our aging feline friends this month.
Like dogs, cats can get older and develop issues that require a change in their routine. They experience physiological and psychological changes just as their pet parents do. Their appetite may wane. They may not be able to jump around on their scratching post. And they may sleep more.
Cats are considered to be elderly when they reach 11 years old with senior cats being between 11 and 14 years. They tend to lose their ability to smell and taste food, digest fat and protein, and maintain elasticity in their skin.
Here are the six things you can do to make your senior cat’s life a little easier:
- A better bed. As cats age, more and more tend to develop arthritis. Getting comfy may be more difficult, so extra pillows and blankets may be needed. There is conflicting evidence whether a soft or hard bed is good for an arthritic cat – do your research and ask your veterinarian! If your cat uses your bed, chair or sofa you may wish to provide a thermal blanket that is warm and washable.
- Stairs and ramps may get more difficult for your cat to climb. A HelpEmUp harness may help! Tile and wood flooring can be slippery, which may discourage their activity. Equally so, carpeting can catch your dog’s claws. Cut pile carpets are the easiest, so putting runners in areas where they play will help them to walk in comfort.Many cats love to look outdoors, but jumping onto a windowsill may get harder. Make sure you have easy access up to and down from these favorite look-outs.
- Your cat’s claws may grow more quickly and stick into their pads. It will be important to keep them well trimmed. Hairballs can become a bigger problem as their digestion slows and they self-groom. Special supplements or foods might need to be purchased if your dog vomits or becomes constipated more often.
- An older cat’s metabolism will slow down, so his vitamin and supplement requirements may change as well. Talk to your vet about the amount and type of food. Because your cat’s taste may be diminishing, you may have to feed him in smaller amounts and more often. Depending on his dental health, he may prefer foods that are softer or mashed. If his neck is affected by arthritis, consider raising the food bowl. Because older cats are prone to dehydration, make sure you have numerous water bowls placed around the house. A lean cat is generally a healthier cat and could live to age 20 or more!
- As with many of us, your cat’s body may be old but his mind seems much younger. Think of some new games to keep your cat’s mind alert and play some of his favorites. His favorite game is probably spending time with you! Keeping your cat active will help with his mobility.
- Plan on making more trips to the veterinarian and dentist. Joint pain and mobility issues and a weakened immune system may become more prevalent in your kitty’s senior years. It’s important that diseases such as cancer or organ failures be detected as early as possible.
What are some other changes you might expect? According to PetMD, “Sometimes they’ll cry in the middle of the night. They won’t use their litter box reliably, and they’ll act confused or won’t relate to family members in the usual way.”
Just as people are living longer, so too are cats. The percentage of cats over six years of age has nearly doubled in just over a decade, and there is every reason to expect that the “graying” cat population will continue to grow. What your cat needs the most? Your love and attention just like when he/she was a kitten!
To view our cat harness in action, click here to read the story on Kit E Boy!