Signs of aging such as slower, less agile movement or an increased preference for warm, soft places to rest are easy to observe. Other changes are more subtle and come on so gradually that you may overlook then until they are quite pronounced.
And although many changes will cause no serious difficulties for your cat, it is important to remember that cats who are middles ages and older experience many of the same problems their human counterparts do such as loss of eyesight and hearing, arthritis, dental problems, confusion, anxiety and so on.
Some of the health problems common to elderly cats are not caused by aging, but because they take several years to develop, their symptoms appear later in life. That is why it is important to work closely with your veterinarian to diagnose and treat those conditions that may keep your cat from enjoying a long, healthy old age.
Although many cats love children, the sudden arrival of a baby or child in the house can be very stressful to an older pet. It is important to keep your aging cat's special needs in mind.
Teach children to leave the cat alone unless she seeks their attention and to be gentle with her when she does. Supervise children who are too young to understand or comply. Be sure that your cat has a refuge when she can get away; if she is no longer able to jump up out of reach, you must provide her with an option.
As your cat grows older, her relationship with members of your family may undergo some changes, which will depend on her individual personality and health. Remember to make decisions based on the needs and welfare of your geriatric cat.
Although some changes are a normal and inevitable result of growing older, others are not normal and may be symptoms of disease. Have the veterinarian examine your cat regularly, and keep her preventive care up to date.
If you notice a change in her body or behavior, talk to your vet. Do not wait for your cat's next routine appointment if it is more than a week or two away because early diagnosis and treatment are essential for control of many health problems and may prolong your cat's life and quality of life.
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