In this blog we will talk about how you can support your elderly cat as they head into their twilight years. We’ll also talk about why it’s crucial you look after your mental state along the way!
Why are we talking about old age in cats?
My dear baby girl Pickle was the inspiration behind Naturally Cats and I wouldn’t be helping the cats I am today if it wasn’t for her.
Sadly, during the 13 years that we had her she was a very poorly cat. Not only was she diabetic for over 10 years but we also had bouts of pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, gingivitis, dandruff and more.
She was such a poorly cat that she inspired me to train in the complementary and alternative treatments I am qualified in be because I wanted a holistic approach to her care, health and wellbeing.
We seemed to go from one vet appointment to the next trying to get her well. It was hard work.
This month in this blog, and in our FREE webinar which is live tomorrow (16th February 2021) we are talking about old age in cats.
You can book your space HERE.
What does old age mean in cats?
If you search online most of the graphics and literature draw the same conclusions:
Mature: 7 – 10yrs
Senior: 10 – 15yrs
Super senior/ Geriatric: 15yrs +
Regardless of how these stages compare to human years I think we all need to be aware that our cats are living longer than they ever have before and we have a duty to them to considering their changing needs as they age.
What can we do to help them?
We will talk more in detail at the webinar tomorrow about how we can help our cats and if you can’t make the live chat feel free to watch the replay on the Naturally Cats YouTube Channel.
I don’t know about you but as I get older my eating habits have changed, and this is the same for our cats. You may notice your cat eating less in terms of quantity but needing to eat more often. Whereas it might be convenient for you to put down 3 meals a day for you cat, be aware that this may not be right for them. They may prefer to eat little meals more often. You can purchase timered feeders if you need to support your schedule with feeding your cat more often.
Their dietary requirements also change, Pickle had a lot of issues with constipation as she wasn’t moving around as much as she used to. We had to factor this in with the food we gave her. Yes, we wanted her to be a raw fed cat but actually it didn’t work for her, so she was fed ½ raw and ½ wet food.
Be cautious if you make changes to your elderly cats food as they don’t adapt very well to change so you need to make the changes VERY slowly.
This was one of the hardest adjustments we had to make for Pickle. Yes, we put little steps around the home so she could get onto the bed and the sofa because her mobility declined. Yes, we raised her food bowls up off the floor so she didn’t struggle to get to her food.
But for me one of the hardest changes was that she would howl (and I mean like a wolf), out loud for no reason at random times of the day and night.
It was so hard to see, hear and deal with.
Upon reflection I think Pickle had Feline Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (FCDS) – Alzheimer’s for cats.
It would be 3am and she would be howling so loud it was like she was in pain. I’d rush down the stairs to find her sat on her chair or under her favourite blanket. She’d look at me as if I’d woken her up!
We’ll be talking about FCDS tomorrow at the webinar. There is a long list of symptoms for this condition and if you have any reason to suspect your cat is suffering from FCDS I urge you to a) do more research and b) speak to your vet.
I wish I have been more proactive in seeking care, support and treatment for this with Pickle.
Don’t wait, get help.
Pickle had never been an adventurous cat. She would only ever go into the garden if I went out there and would find a spot in the sun to lie in. As she got older, she would sleep more and more. Yes, I know cats sleep a lot but seriously this little cat was making it an extreme sport! As the years went on, she became less tolerant of noise, people and stimulation. In the last couple of years she had taken to sitting under a blanket on the chair.
Yes, this was super cute. When we were having cuddles on the bed and watching a film she would snuggle with me under the blanket. But now I think back, it’s almost like she needed less light and noise.
If you notice your cat is becoming more withdrawn or sleeping more, be respectful. See if you can find a quiet space for them to rest. See if you can be with them doing a quiet activity such as reading a box or doing a puzzle to still enjoy their company.
It’s no bad thing for us to turn off the electronic devices!
Why is it important to consider your mental health when you have an elderly cat?
This is soooo hard for me to write. At times I would shout at Pickle. She would be howling and almost screaming at me and I would shout back at her. I tried to give her my all. My life revolved around her 1000% – heck we didn’t have a honeymoon for 4 years after we got married because I didn’t want to leave her.
Taking time out. Taking time away. It’s CRUCIAL when you are caring for an elderly cat.
I suspect if you are part of the Naturally Cats community you are the type of cat lady who will do anything for their cat. Caring for an elderly cat is like caring for an elderly human. It takes large chunks out of your sparkle jar. You need to do things that top up that jar. Spend time with friends, get out of the house, meditate, take a holiday. Whatever it may be.
How do you know your cat is getting old? You’ll see it one day. You’ll notice they have an issue jumping up onto the bed or their favourite shelf. You’ll notice they don’t seem as active.
I’d highly suggest you do a yearly ‘check in’ with your cat. You know I love a good list! Get a notebook and once a year make a few notes about the key elements for your cat. Give them a score out of 10:
These are just a few suggestions.
Go and make your own list for your cat.
Just know that as they age their needs change. And you are fully capable of coping with these changing needs. Just don’t be too hard on yourself. Do what you can.
I hope you join us for the webinar tomorrow where we will be talking in more detail about the practical changes you can make to the home, the symptoms of FCDS and more.
Feel free to get in touch and reach out for support. We have a great community in the Naturally Cats discussion group on Facebook. If you aren’t a member already come and join us. If you need support with your elderly cat, need to vent or just see some funny pictures to top up your sparkle jar, come and join us.
We’d love to meet you.
Julie-Anne and Leo xx
All Blogs by Julie-Anne Thorne
In this blog we’ll look at how you can help your cat. It’s not about litter trays, it’s about looking within. It’s about helping you to see that you always have a choice in how you show up for your cat. Let’s look at how your energy affects them both mentally and physically, and why you may need a time out!