What You Need to Know to Care for Your Senior Cat

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Stay Healthy During the Golden Years

Great news for cat parents: Our cats are living longer than ever before. Just like people, cats have changing needs as they age. Here are some simple things you can do to help your senior cat stay healthy, happy, and vital.

Cat and owner

When is my Cat a Senior?

While every cat is different, there are general guidelines to determine when they become "senior citizens." Cats are considered mature at seven to 10 years; senior at 11 to 14 years; and geriatric at 15 or older. Ultimately your cat’s genetics, nutrition and environment will all play a role in determining when they are a senior.

Make the Veterinarian Your First Stop

Regular check-ups are essential to your cat’s health, and become even more important as your cat ages. Age-related diseases can be subtle, and symptoms may be easy to miss. Through regular exams and blood tests, your veterinarian can establish a baseline of what is normal for your cat. This will help alert you when something is not right. If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior, appetite, or energy level, be sure to check with your veterinarian. (Ed. note: Senior cats are advised to see a veterinarian every six months.)

Choose the Right Cat Food

If your older cat is less active, she needs fewer calories. Try limiting portion sizes at mealtime. Over half of American cats are overweight, and obesity contributes to many diseases and puts more stress on your cat’s joints. There are even special cat foods to improve issues with joint disease or mobility. Cats with kidney or heart disease may also need special nutrition. Your veterinarian can design a weight plan that addresses your cat’s specific nutritional needs and recommend if supplementation or specialized cat food will help. Come prepared with a list of questions to ask your veterinarian.

For the complete slideshow on how to care for senior pets, visit petMD.

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