Dr Brittainy, one of Sunset’s amazing Palliative Care team, shares her tips on Senior Cat Care in our two part series. In Part Two, Dr Britt sheds light on ways to help your Cat with declining mobility and the importance of good grooming practices.
With up to 90% of cats over the age of 12 having evidence of osteoarthritis on x-ray, many of our elder feline friends are hiding the extent of their discomfort from us. We can help provide an environment that allows them to express their natural behaviours, without causing undue distress.
Cats love to survey their kingdom from a height, but as they get older, jumping to their throne can become tricky. Providing ramps with non-slip covering (such as carpet runners) to their favourite spots can help to enrich their lives. With a bit of handy work, your feline can have their own “catwalk” to prime viewing positions – the windowsill, onto the “human” bed, to the top of the scratching pole, the back of the couch. Some stubborn cats may use these as elaborate stepping stones, allowing smaller or shorter leaps to reach their destination, however this is still saving strain on their joints and providing relief.
But it’s not only jumping to heights that can make the joints creak in displeasure, holding a position for a length of time can also cause discomfort (yoga participants will know exactly what we mean!). By elevating food and water bowls slightly to allow cats to be in a more neutral position while eating can help cats with neck, back and limb pain feel more comfortable and potentially eat more per sitting. Similarly, by providing a litter tray with higher sides (such as a converted storage box with cut out sides or an enclosed tray) can help cats who may sometimes have accidents over the sides from not squatting down far enough, toilet more normally.
Placing extra food and water bowls, as well as litter trays in convenient locations – ensuring there is one on each story for multi-storey houses – is often overlooked, however this simple measure can help ensure older cats don’t have to walk long distances which may reduce visits to these facilities. If possible, providing these in a separate room with a comfortable bed which has some type of barrier, allows our older animals to have “time out” from other pets and children.
If your feline prefers their own bed, providing thicker beds (such as memory foam off cuts) will help them be much more comfortable. Heated beds are just purr-fect for those cold winter days and help old joints feel nice and mobile.
Grooming For the Spoilt Feline
Cats are very clean creatures, but often as they become older (and arthritic) the task of grooming themselves becomes too much. Ungroomed coats become knotty or matted and may trap faeces – often distressing the cat. Overgrown nails often get caught in couches/carpets and if left unchecked, may even grow into the foot. Regular grooming sessions, including monthly manicures – nail trims – help keep cats looking and feeling good. Clipping the coat in longer coated cats – particularly in warmer months – should be considered if regular brushing is not possible or is stressful/painful.
From the vet
As much as our felines don’t always love to see the vet, regular visits are a must. Here at Sunset Home Veterinary Care, we can make the visits as stress-free as possible by coming to your home. We can help track weight loss or gain, as well as prescribe medications to help keep pets comfortable and try to relieve any problems they may have. Vets help to track disease progression and are there to support you both on your pet’s journey. There are a variety of alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, as well as physiotherapy which vets can provide to help our pets. Vets can also help suggest lifestyle changes, such as dietary management, weight loss, environmental changes and exercise programs to help our pets stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Don’t forget to check out Part One of the series, where Dr Brittainy has some fantastic ideas for Environmental Enrichment and keeping your kitty well-nourished with Special Dietary Needs.
If you have questions about how Sunset Vets can help you keep your cat healthy and happy into the senior years, please contact our Patient Care team on 1800 368 768.