Helping Your Senior Cat Age Comfortably

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Helping Your Senior Cat Age Comfortably

Thanks to improved nutrition and advanced veterinary medicine, it’s not unusual for cats nowadays to live longer than they used to. Cats can live up to 20 years old; that’s a long time to be a senior! However, just like humans, as cats grow older, their health can deteriorate. Joint and muscle problems, skin issues and not being able to exercise or move like they once did can all not only negatively impact your cat’s physical wellbeing, but their mental too.

As a feline parent, you want the best for your aging kitty, so here we have put together this useful guide on what measurements you can take to ensure your senior cat thrives in their later years.

Health & Nutrition

1. Regular Veterinary Visits

It’s important for your cat to visit their veterinarian more often as they age; even if they appear healthy. If your cat is over 10 years, a check-up every 6 months is recommended. If your cat is a super senior and is over the age of 15, it is a good idea to shorten that time to every 4 months to ensure optimum health maintenance and early detection of disease.

2. Pay Attention to Changes

Changes in weight or behaviour are something all cat parents should be on the look for when caring for an aging cat.

Weight gain can come about as your cat’s energy and activity levels decrease, or if arthritis makes it hard for them to move. Weight gain can make your cat more likely to get chronic diseases and have a shortened life span.

Weight loss in senior cats usually indicates that something is wrong. There are many causes to weight loss, and some of the most common diseases are hyperthyroidism, intestinal disease, and diabetes, all which can occur with a normal or even increased appetite. Make sure to check your cat’s weight regularly, both at home and in your local Petmania.

Joint and muscle problems can also arise as your cat ages. Watch out for signs such as reluctance to jump up or down, trouble going up and down the stairs, reduced grooming habits, stiffness and lack of energy.

If you notice any of the above symptoms, take your cat to their local vet so they can be properly examined.

senior cat being checked by vet
senior cat eating his food from a bowl

3. Nutritional Needs

In their senior years, it’s more important than ever that your cat is provided with a high quality, tasty diet with easily digestible protein and a balance of key nutrients. Elderly cats have specific dietary requirements; with their reduced appetites they require energy dense, highly digestible food. A good senior cat diet offers high quality protein, controlled levels of fat, and easy-to-digest carbohydrates for energy. Key vitamins and minerals, along with proteins, help to support the ageing immune system and joints.

Vet Carol Doyle says, “senior or geriatric cats should move from a dry food formula to a wet cat food, or a dry food with a wet centre can make your cat’s mealtimes more appetizing and palatable for your cat. A diet change in her senior years can help prevent weight loss and muscle mass decline.” She adds, “The frequency of meals will be based on your cat’s health status, but I would suggest feeding your senior cat at least twice a day and monitor for any weight gain in case you need to reduce total daily calories. It is worth noting that outdoor cats tend to burn more calories than indoor cats, as they are usually more physically active. Always discuss with your vet before making any dietary changes.

Home Care Changes

1. Invest in a Good Bed

good bed is essential for older cats who are suffering from muscle and joint issues. You want a bed with good support that will allow your cat to easily get in and out of. A good supportive bed with a cushioned base allows your cat to curl up and sleep, while also helping to support arthritic joints and cradle tired bones. This bed is also thermal, meaning its materials reflect body heat back to your pet, keeping them warm. These beds are great for helping to relieve any joint or muscle discomfort.

Make sure the bed you choose has a low entry point so your older cat isn’t struggling to get in.

2. Make it Convenient

Place essential resources such as food, water, litter boxes, and beds in multiple locations around the house where your cat can easily access them. If your cat is finding it difficult navigating up and down the stairs, make sure these resources are met on the bottom floor to save her the pain of going upstairs. Ensuring that all your cat’s needs are met in areas that are convenient for her will prevent any accidents in the house or risk of being unable to access important resources.

cat sleeping on petlife hottie pad

3. Low-Entry Litter Box

Low-entry litter boxes will make it easier for senior cats to get in and out. If your cat is arthritic or has mobility issues, make sure the litter boxes are placed in easily accessible areas.

4. Avoid Drastic Changes

Older cats are prone to vision loss, and conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment can begin to develop. Avoid moving around furniture if your cat’s eyesight is failing, as this could throw them off their course and turn into an obstacle.

5. Small Adjustments

Changes like using a ramp to help your cat get up and down from the furniture or an elevated bowl to eliminate excess strain on their head and neck can really help your aging kitty. Always keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort such as limping, difficulty changing position, trouble getting up the stairs or jumping, and lying down when eating or drinking—all of which suggest that your cat will need to take a visit to the vet.

cat playing with M-Pets Dizzy Cat Toy


1. Toy Time

Regular exercise is an important element of a healthy life, especially as your cat begins to age. It aids balance, mobility, mental agility, and sustaining a healthy weight.  Playtime is one of the best ways to help keep your cat active. Make sure to play with some of their old favourites as well as new ones to keep them engaged. Chase toys are a great way to keep them entertained; pouncing, grabbing onto, or simply swiping at the toy with their paws is an effective way to keep your cat active. Her whole body will be working as she playfully runs around your home.

Interactive toys such as M-PETS Dizzy Cat Toy or the KONG Cat Laser Toy are great ways to keep not only your cat’s body active, but also her mind. Stimulation and brain games are more important than ever in the senior years, as, just like humans, cats can suffer a decline in mental function as they get older. Keeping playtime interactive with a laser toy (just be careful not to point the laser in your cat’s eye) or a toy that omits sounds can keep boredom at bay and provide plenty of stimulating entertainment.

2. Scratchers

Multi-tiered cat scratchers provide your kitty lots of options for climbing, jumping, and playing, making them great for keeping active. Having multiple scratching pads around the house can be a great way to encourage older cats to exercise their body and mind on a regular basis.

However, it’s important to note that senior cats who suffer from arthritis or mobility issues may have trouble jumping up and down from the towers if they don’t climb regularly, so make sure any towers you bring home are ones she can surmount.

3. Walks

Yes, it is possible to take your cat outside on a leash and harness! Some cats love being able to explore the outdoors with their owners by their side. Taking your senior cat for a short walk around the neighbourhood is a fantastic way to get her moving. If your cat is not used to being on a leash however, it may take some patience and lots of practice. Don’t force your senior kitty into anything she’s not comfortable with, and always go at her pace. Outdoor cats will be more used to hunting outside on their own, but if you have an indoor cat who isn’t used to the outdoors, always keep them on a leash.


1. Regular Brushing

Help your senior cat out with grooming by gently brushing or combing daily (especially if she’s long-haired). Cat with joint problems may struggle to groom themselves, so it’s important to give your cat a helping hand to prevent mats, tangles. For more on grooming your cat, see our blog post here.

2. Regular Nail Trimming

If your cat suffers from mobility issues or arthritis, it can be difficult keeping their nails in check. They can often grow into the paw pads, which can be very painful. Make sure to trim your cat’s nails once a month to ensure your cat continues to be comfortable walking around on their paws.

senior catbeing brushed by owner

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