Dealing with Geriatric Cats


Old cats have their challenges. By looking at what they struggle with, we can make their lives more enjoyable for them.

For instance, many senior kitties have arthritis. They won’t tell you this, but they might not jump up where they used to, or they don’t go out as much. If they are really sore, talk to your veterinarian about pain control and supplements you can use to relieve the discomfort.

Then, there are the at-home things you can do. If your cat would like to get up on the couch or bed but it is a challenge, put a chair or stool next to it as a step. Put the food and water bowls on a short platform so that your cat doesn’t need to reach all the way to the floor with a sore neck.

With our old cat, Calli, we gave her a heated bed. This was a simple affair – a heating pad set on low under her pillow (both on the bed). She practically lived on that in her last year. It kept her joints moving.

What about litter boxes? If they have high sides, cut the front down to create an entry. This way, the elderly joints don’t have to get over the barrier.

Feed a high-quality diet so that s/he doesn’t have to eat that much. Because many older cats suffer from some degree of kidney disease, they are often marginally dehydrated. Feed them canned food to boost the water intake. And, feed several meals. These old ones don’t seem to eat a lot in one sitting and spacing out the meals (like four in a day) helps them maintain their intake. As well, have several water bowls available at different places in the house and change the water daily.

With age comes some loss of hearing. Older cats can be startled easily. Make loud and forceful footsteps so you can alert your cat to your movement through vibration.

And, lastly, because there are many things that can go wrong at their advanced age, see your veterinarian regularly. A blood and urine test can tell you where your cat stands and if there is any treatment or help needed.

Dr. Louise Janes D.V.M. & Dr. Jeff Grognet D.V.M.