Your cat has been with you for many years, and you have learned to trust each other. Do not let him down now. As he enters old age, you must pay greater attention to his needs and provide plenty of tender loving care.
With improved diets and advances in medicine, cats, just like humans, are living longer. However, old age can vary dramatically from one cat to another. A strictly indoors cat with a good diet and regular vaccinations will probably outlive an outdoor cat, an indoor/ outdoor cat and a feral cat.
It is not uncommon for indoor cats to live up to 18 years or more. Outdoor cats, on the other hand, generally live to around six years, although many may die much sooner and others may live to more than 20 years.
What are the signs of old age? You can tell if your cat is entering old age when he does not jump onto his favorite perches easily, or at all. He will sleep more, and when awake, he will move slowly and with a hint of stiffness.
However, he will not be as prone to arthritis and back problems as dogs, and should remain agile for a long time. Although you may not notice at first because he is adept at keeping to a routine, your cat may start to lose his hearing and eyesight.
It is a good idea to let him see your hand in front of his face before you pick him up, and to call his name before approaching. He may also start to develop problems with incontinence, diarrhea, and constipation.
Some of these are caused by kidney problems or diabetes, while others are simply part of the aging process. You will need to take him to the veterinarian to determine the cause, and then follow the prescribed treatment.
If he has a constipation problem, feeding a food that contains fermentable fiber may help. Bad breath is a sure signal to take your elderly cat to the veterinarian. It could be nothing more than a gum infection or a tooth that needs extracting, or it may signify something more serious.
Do not worry if he has to have some teeth extracted. Many cats continue to eat their normal food, and even crunch dry cat food with missing teeth. The outdoor or aging farm cats may develop skin conditions so you will need to watch him carefully and help him maintain a clean coat.
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