Senior 8+ Years
TAKING OVER AS CHIEF GROOMER:
There are all sorts of reasons why as your cat grows older, you’ll start to play a more and more important role in caring for them (just like when they were a kitten). One thing cats take pride in doing regularly by themselves is indulging in their grooming routine. But however hard they try, your older cat might not be able to maintain the same glossy, healthy coat that they once could. The quality of your cat’s coat is all to do with their diet. They need the right balance of nutrients for both internal and external health. Unfortunately, your older cat’s digestion just won’t be as efficient as it once was, which means they won’t be able to absorb those nutrients as successfully. That’s why it’s so important you make sure they’re on a suitable diet as they grow older, like the Whiskas® Senior range designed for senior cats’ specific needs.
Senior cats sometimes just aren’t as bothered as they once were about maintaining a healthy coat, so they may spend a lot less time on their once rigorous grooming routine. As a result, your cat’s skin could become flaky and their coat could show signs of grey or white hairs developing. All you can do to help is to take over the role of groomer (if you haven’t already!). Getting into a regular grooming routine will help keep their fur shiny and healthy and skin soft.
WHAT TO EXPECT AS SHE GROWS OLDER:
As you’d expect, health complaints become more and more regular the older your cat gets. Your vet will become more and more important to you, but there’s a lot you can keep an eye out for yourself. Health problems that affect older cats include urinary tract problems, heart problems and joint problems. They can also develop cataracts and poor oral health. Lots of care and attention from you will help in identifying when there’s a problem.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. You’ll be able to see a sort of misty, grey blurring in your cat’s eye if they’ve developed this problem. Your cat, on the other hand, will be able to see less and less as the cataracts develop.
They might also start to have trouble hearing. As a natural born hunter, your cat has developed a huge reliance on their senses. If you have a blind or deaf cat, make sure you’re more careful than usual to make sure there aren’t any potential hazards just lying about in the house, and keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t get into any difficult situations.
Poor oral health, including sore gums and missing teeth, is something a lot of cats have to deal with in their old age. The problem here is that there comes a time when an operation involving anaesthetic just isn’t possible, so they just have to put up with the problem. As do you, if bad breath is a symptom. In these cases, all you can do is make sure they’re as comfortable as possible, and food like Whiskas® Pouches Senior or Whiskas® Senior Meaty Nuggets is ideal. Alternatively, you could soak Whiskas® Dry food in a little water to make it softer on their gums.
TIPS FOR A LONG LIFE:
On average, cats usually live for around 12-15 years. And to give them the best chance of living a long and happy life, you can do a five-point monthly home exam. This way you’ll be able to detect and prevent any problems sooner rather than later.
1. Weight check
Get on the scales with your cat regularly, If they fail any of the weight tests, you’d best go and talk to your vet about the next steps. In the meantime, keep all treats and table snacks off the menu, and divide their daily feeding allowance into two to four small meals a day. If, on the other hand, you think they’re underweight, take your cat into the vet for a full health check.
2. Coat and skin check
Your cat’s coat should feel wonderfully smooth from the top of her head to the tip of her tail. You can part the fur near the head and along their spine to check for any flakes, scales or cuts.
The colour of the coat can tell a story too. It should be bright and glossy, so if it’s dull or matted they might be ill. Your vet will be able to help.
3. Eyes and ears check
If you gently pull down your cat’s lower eyelid, the area you see should be pink. You can also check that their pupils are normal size, and stand with them by a window, opening the curtain and closing it again to check how responsive the pupils are to light. If there’s any coloured discharge, or excessive eye watering, they may have picked up an infection.
Your cat’s ears should be clean and pink in colour – but not bright pink. They should also be free of debris and any nasty odours. Check for wax, especially dark wax, which may be a sign of ear mites or infection.
Visit your vet if you come across any problems with your cat’s eyes or ears.
4. Teeth and gums check
Carefully open your cat’s mouth to inspect all the teeth. Look for tartar build-up, which is yellow to dark brown in colour. If you find any you’ll need to take them to a vet to have it removed. As ever, prevention trumps cure, so the best thing to do is to have your vet give their mouth a regular, thorough clean. You can help by buying a specially designed pet toothbrush and toothpaste, or with chew snacks designed to fight plaque.
5. Spot checks
It’s easy to check for unusual lumps or bumps on your cat. Just place both your hands on top of their head and move them down under the chin, then behind the front legs, under the shoulders, down the back, over the hips, and down the legs. Check the claws and footpads for cuts or cracks too. If you find anything you’re not happy with, take them to the vet.
If you’re very hands-on with your cat you’ll soon get to know how they look when they’re healthy. That way you’ll be able to spot anything that’s unusual quickly and easily, and you’ll give them a great chance of living a long, contented life.
Once your cat turns 8, the chances are they’ll still be just as active as ever, and will remain an active, healthy cat for years to come. As the years go on, however, you’ll need to be thinking about what’s best for them in terms of their diet.
You might find your cat puts on a little weight as a result of reduction in their activity level. Some cats, on the other hand, when they become very old may begin to lose weight despite a reduction in activity as their body cannot efficiently digest the nutrients that provide energy from their food. You can carefully monitor their weight by getting into a regular routine of both weighing and checking along the sides of their body. If you think they’re a little over the average (or even under), make sure you adjust the amount you are feeding accordingly or speak to your vet.
TURNING HER NOSE UP
One of the few visible signs of ageing may be a slightly reduced appetite. If your cat has started to reject the food you give them, it’s important that you make sure you’re providing the most palatable meal possible. It’s still vitally important that they get the necessary nutrients, and it’s up to you to make sure they want to eat what you put down. We suggest the Whiskas® Senior Meaty Nuggets range in delicious fish or meat flavours, providing everything your cat needs to stay healthy in their senior years.
PLAYING IT SAFE
You may think that by the time your cat turns 8, they’ll no longer be interested in playtime. You’d be wrong. Some cats can go on starting games of hide and seek or chasing toys around until their legs just won’t let them anymore, whilst others tend to wind down earlier. You’ll have to make a decision, based on what you already know about your cat, as to whether they’ll enjoy playing a game with you, humour you, or downright ignore you. There aren’t many visible signs of ageing in cats, but one which you may notice is reduced activity. Some senior cats may begin to prefer the comfort and warmth of that beanbag in the corner to adventures outdoors. Cats aren’t always the easiest animals to keep amused, and this will become even more relevant as age starts to make exercise more difficult. Try to find a toy they still enjoy, but if they’re just not interested then respect your cat’s decision and leave them be – enforced play isn’t fun for either of you!