From the age of 12 years, cats are considered senior. Signs associated with aging may appear: they spend more time sleeping, they are more reluctant to move, they may suffer from health problems, especially kidney problems, etc... It is possible to prevent the aging of cats by paying attention to several things from a young age, such as their health, their behavior or their living environment.
How does aging manifest itself in cats?
In older animals, there are many signs that the animal is unfortunately starting to age, such as:
• a deterioration of the state of health: health problems are encountered in many older cats. One of these conditions is osteoarthritis, which causes joint pain. Arthritic cats are more reluctant to move, they may have difficulty climbing into their litter box, they may also refuse to be petted if they are in pain... Older cats also often suffer from chronic renal failure. One must be vigilant to any weight loss (weight loss can be a warning sign) and to the animal's water consumption.
• a change in behavior: older cats may start meowing excessively, they may also wake up at night, they may relieve themselves outside the litter box... When faced with a change in behavior, one must ask whether it is a behavioral problem related to aging or a health problem.
• an alteration in the quality of the coat: this can be due to a health problem, to an animal that grooms itself less...
• a decrease in vision and hearing.
• oral and dental problems and difficulties to eat.
• too long claws: be careful to look at the length of the claws of older cats because they tend to do less clawing. Too long claws can hurt the paw pads and this is very painful for the animal.
How to prevent it?
It is recommended to have an annual check-up with a veterinarian until the age of 12 years and then to make visits every 6 months for cats over 12 years old.
These visits are very important for several reasons:
- The veterinarian will examine your cat to check its health. A blood test is recommended every year after the age of 8 years to check the functioning of the kidneys. This will allow to highlight early on a possible health problem and to set up a treatment quickly.
- The veterinarian will be able to advise you as well as possible on its food, its behavior, the care to be carried out... to maintain your cat in full form.
To ensure the best possible health, it is advisable to spay or neuter cats from a young age. This helps to avoid or reduce the risk of certain health problems such as mammary tumors, uterine infections, etc...
It is also necessary to think about worming your pet regularly and treating it against external parasites.
Finally, it is recommended to vaccinate cats from the age of 8 weeks, this allows to protect them against serious infectious diseases. It is advisable to continue vaccinating older cats so that they remain effectively protected against these diseases. Please read our fact sheet on cat vaccination for more information.
A quality food in an adapted quantity
It is recommended to feed cats with a mixed diet (kibble and pate) of quality adapted to the cat's age: this is called bi-nutrition.
Bi-nutrition is recommended to keep your pet in top shape for as long as possible. Indeed, since pates are rich in water, they help dilute urine and limit the risk of urinary tract infections. They also improve the animal's satiety and help maintain a healthy weight. As obesity is harmful to the health of animals, especially for the joints, maintaining an ideal weight is essential.
With an adapted diet distributed in adequate quantities, your cat will have a beautiful coat, a good transit, a good development of its muscle mass...
As they age, animals may have difficulty chewing their kibble. One solution is to moisten the kibble to make it easier to chew but also to reveal its taste. To do this, add hot water to the kibble ration and wait a few minutes for the kibble to swell and the mixture to cool.
Well-chosen dietary supplements
There are dietary supplements specially designed for senior cats that support the general metabolism and slow down cellular aging. It can be very helpful to have a cure for senior cats.
A skin and coat supplement can also be helpful, along with regular brushing.
Many other types of food supplements are available and should be given according to the advice of the treating veterinarian: to support the joints, to slow down the senescence of the lens, etc...
Care throughout its life
Taking care of your cat on a daily basis is one of the keys to longevity. Pay particular attention to ensuring that your cat has good oral hygiene from an early age.
Indeed, the formation of tartar in cats can cause many problems: dental pain, difficulty in eating, spread of bacteria to other organs...
A suitable living environment and available owners!
It is important to offer an adequate living environment to the animal so that it has a balanced behavior and that it is in good shape as long as possible.
This is especially true for cats living in apartments, where the living environment is poor in stimuli compared to the outside environment. Cats that are able to go outside are generally in good physical condition, busy hunting for several hours a day and exploring their environment.
In an apartment, cats should have everything they need to meet their needs: games, cat trees, scratching posts, etc.
Some adjustments may be necessary for older animals, to improve their daily life: make sure that the edges of the litter box are not too high, install a very comfortable memory bed...
Finally, the owners are a real support for the animal. They are also the guarantor of the success of a treatment, of its good health by monitoring it daily, etc...
More and more connected objects are developed for pets. They are sources of valuable information on their health and behavior. These connected objects will probably be a precious help in the future to prevent the aging of animals.