When Is My Cat a Senior?

When Is My Cat a Senior?

The signs of aging in cats aren’t always obvious, as changes are most likely to occur on the inside rather than externally. It’s important to recognise the signs of an aging cat, not only so you can adapt their lifestyle to fit their needs, but to make them as comfortable as possible in their golden years.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about what makes a cat a ‘senior’, identifying some health issues they may face, and what steps to take to ensure they are as happy and as content as can be.

When Is My Cat ‘Senior’?

Generally, a cat will be said to be entering their later years when she is 7-10 years of age, when they will classified as ‘mature adult’. By the time your cat is 10 years or older, you may hear your vet refer to your cat as ‘senior’, and later ‘geriatric’, which simply means that to promote good quality of life and longevity, it is essential to give special consideration to your cat’s health.

The six lifestages of a cat are; kitten (0-6 months), Junior (7 months-2 years), Adult (3-6 years), Mature (7-10 years), Senior (11-14 years), and Geriatric (15 years +).

As many diseases are more prevalent in older cats, your vigilance in observing their day-to-day habits should be intensified after age 7 to be sure problems can be caught and prevented early on.

senior cat lying down looking bored

Signs & Health Problems of Aging in Cats

Cats tend to hide their pain, making it difficult to properly care for them when they need it the most. But if you know what to look for, you can recognise pain symptoms early and get your kitty the help she needs. These signs below may indicate that your cat is approaching the senior life stage and that it’s time to re-evaluate her care needs.

  • Reduced mobility
  • Dramatic weight changes
  • Sleeping more
  • Behavioural changes
  • Matted/oily fur (due to mobility issues like arthritis)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vision loss
  • House soiling
  • Bad breath
  • Increased thirst

Aging is a gradual process, and you may not recognise all the signs right away. If you do notice any, it’s important to take them to your local vet to be inspected so they can provide the best treatments and advice going forward.

cat eating from a food bowl

Tips for Looking After Your Senior Cat

Good nutrition, an appropriate level of exercise, lots of mental stimulation, pain control and veterinary care are the top recommendations for senior cat care.


Vet Carol Doyle recommends a 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.

Dr Doyle continues, “while weight loss is a concern for senior cats, reduced mobility and activity levels can increase the risk of weight gain too. Weight gain in your senior cat can increase the risks of illness such as diabetes or kidney problems.”

There are a wide range of food available to support your cat in her later years, and the team at Petmania are available to help you choose the best food for your senior cat.


Regular exercise is essential to help keep your senior cat fit and healthy, and is critical to preventing your kitty from gaining excessive weight. Senior cats enjoy playing with chase toys, and most can’t resist catnip-enhanced cat toys. Cat furniture and scratchers are also a great outlet for your cat to get some activity. Using cat shelving, ropes, trees and climbers will help encourage indoor activity by allowing different level living as much as possible. Anything that encourages regular climbing activity will help to improve your cat’s overall fitness.

Scratching posts will allow your cat to express her natural scratching behaviour and do some basic exercise. These should be available to your cat at all times.

Regular exercise, both physically and mentally, will help keep your cat’s sense sharp and reduce the likelihood of problems developing in her later years.

At Home Care

There is rarely the need to make any radical changes to the home to accommodate your cat as she begins to age, but small adaptations can often make a significant difference to the quality of her life.

For example, if your cat is finding it difficult navigating up and down the stairs, make sure all her needs are met on the bottom floor, such as her bed, litter box, toys, scratchers etc. Ensuring that all your cat’s needs are met on that one level will prevent any accidents in the house or risk of being unable to access important resources.

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.

Regular Health Checks

It’s important to carry out regular health checks, both at home in the vet’s office, to help catch any potential issues that could affect your cat down the line. Things can change quickly in an older cat’s body, which is why senior felines should see their veterinarian at least twice a year. During the examination, your vet can do laboratory testing to check under the hood for common illnesses, such as kidney or dental disease.

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