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If we’re lucky, all of our cats will live long enough to become seniors. Living with a senior cat has many advantages, not the least of which is the fact that senior cats tend to be much more calm and well mannered than their younger counterparts. As our cats mature, there are some things we can do to make their lives easier and more enjoyable.
As your cat gets older her eyesight may begin to weaken. Many cats sleep during the day and spend the night exploring and hunting. Installing a night light will help her safely and confidently continue hunting at night even when her vision isn’t as sharp as it used to be.
Stiff or achy joints may deter your cat from sleeping on your bed or the highest tier of the cat tree. You can keep her favorite spots accessible to her by adding ramps, steps, and stools to your home. A strategically placed stool by the bed can help a cat regain confidence.
As your cat gets older, she may not have as much control over her bladder. This, paired with less mobility, could lead to accidents. If your home is large or multi-floored, add another litter box or two so she won’t have to travel as far to find one.
Cats use their senses of sight, hearing, and smell to determine whether an environment is safe. When these senses become dull, a senior cat in a loud or social home may feel anxious or on edge. The same can be said for senior cats who share their home with more rambunctious younger animals or children. If your home is a bit wild, don’t worry– you can create a quiet space for your senior cat in a low-traffic area of your home, such as a bedroom or closet. Just be sure that your cat has access to the essentials (litter box, food, fresh water) without venturing too far from her safe space.
As your cat gets older, it will be even more important to keep on top of annual checkups to make sure her organs are functioning properly (or to build a plan early with your vet if they aren’t). Your vet will also help you assess whether your cat should be on a special diet based on her individual needs. As your cat becomes less flexible, she may also need a little help with grooming. Having a good brush and some pet wipes on hand will help.
In the end, the most important thing will be to remain patient while your cat adjusts to her changing body, even if it means she doesn’t quite make it to the litter box now and then. Being with a friend towards the end of her life is a privilege. Embrace it with the love, care, and compassion you both deserve and the benefits will be returned tenfold.