Flossie, a tortoiseshell from the U.K., is currently the world's oldest living cat. She will celebrate her 28th birthday this December. While that age is exceptional for a cat, more and more people are reporting their feline companions living into their late teens - and beyond.
Senior-aged cats (and dogs) represent 44 percent of the U.S. pet population. That statistic comes from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), cited below. But whether you have a kitten or a cat in his prime, here are three top things you can start doing now to help him make it to Flossie's age - or beyond.
Water the cat
Like many humans, cats often don't drink enough water. But how much is enough? According to petMD, cited below, veterinarians suggest "about 4 ounces of water per five pounds of body weight daily." For example, if your cat weighs 10 pounds, he should imbibe 8 ounces or about a cup daily. If you don't often see him lapping at his bowl, be sure you provide other ways to add to his hydration. Switching to canned food can help because most dry varieties lack moisture.
If your senior cat is used to jumping on counters or tables to get water, he may drink less if it hurts to leap and lunge. So, be sure his water source is always accessible. Try placing bowls of fresh, purified water in various rooms around the house. And a pet water fountain feature might get his attention in a big way. Bottom line: your aging cat must have water, or he will become dehydrated and at risk for diabetes or kidney disease.
Visit the vet
How often your cat needs to visit the veterinarian will depend on his age and overall health. Most vets agree with monthly visits for youngsters under one year of age. However, healthy adult cats should be seen at least once a year. And cats with chronic issues may need more frequent vet care.
Cats are typically considered "senior" when they reach 11 years of age. Because many conditions grow worse and new diseases and injuries appear more quickly at this stage of life, petMD recommends taking your older kitty to see the vet every six months.
Supersize the attention
Some cats may need more care, affection and attention as they age; others may not. It will depend on his personality and how much human touch he has received in the past. Being as attentive as possible to your feline will make you better able to recognize when he is in pain and more likely to notice if there is a decline in his health. Cats are better at hiding their pain than dogs. Studies showed that up to 9 out of 10 senior cats x-rayed by veterinarians have arthritis but may have been in pain longer than their humans realized.
Even older cats need the care of warmth and security your lap can provide. And they need physical and mental stimulation. Search for a couple of games to play with your feline pal and at least one he likes to take solo. In the process, he'll get exercise, and both of you will enjoy a stronger bond.
Quote to remember: "An old cat likes young mice." - Greek proverb
Veterinary Practice News
March 2023 Vol 35/Number 3
News item, page 5
American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)
"2023 AAHA Senior Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats"
"6 Tips for Caring for Senior Cats"