Tips for Caring for Senior Cats

What to feed your senior cat?
There are many different diets that may be acceptable to feed a senior pet, which is highly dependant on your cat’s health status. It is important to perform senior blood work in order to pick the best diet for your cat. Some of the most common health conditions in older cats have specific diets formulated for them. These include kidney disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, and many more.

Your veterinarian will be able to interpret the blood work to pick a food best suited for your pet. If they assess your cat to be healthy, they may recommend a balanced senior food or an adult maintenance diet. It is important to review the nutrition of a food with your veterinarian before you switch your cat onto it, as some senior foods can restrict certain components such as protein and phosphorus unnecessarily for your cat.

Why is my senior cat peeing on the floor?
There are many situations that can lead a cat to pee outside the litter box. There are certain diseases in older age that can cause a cat to drink and pee more. The most common of these are kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). There are many other possible causes as well, which can be assessed with senior blood work. These conditions require medical management to improve your cat’s quality of life. Another possibility is arthritis. As cats get older, especially if they are overweight, they often form arthritis in their joints. If the cat has to go down or up to stairs to get to a litter box, or if the box is very deep and the cat has a hard time jumping into it, they may choose to pee on the floor instead. On the other hand, if you notice that your cat is standing in the litter box but peeing outside the edges of the box, it may be because it hurts them to crouch down in order to pee in the box. For senior pets, it is ideal to have litter boxes on multiple floors of the house, and have boxes that are easy to walk into but with a higher back that they can pee against.

Why is my senior cat losing hair?
One of the most common causes of hair loss in senior cats is hyperthyroidism. This is where the thyroid gland overproduces thyroid hormone due to a benign growth on it. Other symptoms include drinking and peeing more, weight loss, and a ravenous appetite. Some other conditions that may cause hair loss are fleas or other parasites, food allergies, or environmental allergies. These can happen in cats of any age.

Why is my senior cat losing weight?
Many people notice that their senior cats may be losing weight. There are many different conditions that cause this. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a loss of muscle mass because old cats don’t move around or play as much. Other times there can be more significant causes of the common older cat diseases, such as kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism.

Written by Heather Bassey, DVM

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