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8 Ways to Make Your Senior Cat Happy

8 Ways to Make Your Senior Cat Happy

Seventeen years ago, Siouxsie Mew came into my life. My relationship with her has outlasted many friendships and romances, and pretty much every person in my life except my family and my best friend. I weaned her, I helped her recover from her spay surgery, and she’s moved house with me at least half a dozen times. She’s one of the original members of the Paws and Effect gang, bearing the burden of being Top Cat and Queen of All Eastern Cats with dignity and grace … and the occasional paw-swat when required.

Siouxsie’s not the only elderkitty I’ve known. My family has had cats who lived to be 17, 18, and, in one case, 21, so I guess you could say I’ve learned a few things about how to make a senior cat’s life as happy and healthy as possible. Here are eight of my best tips:

More from Catster Magazine: When Is a Cat Considered a Senior?

1. Remember that your senior cat is still the top cat

Even if your other cats start agitating for the throne, so to speak, remind them that they should respect their elders. Give her the first shot at treats and affection and make sure the younger cats stay out of her way.

2. Be gentle with her

In her younger years, your cat may not have had any problems recovering when you pushed her off the counter, but that may not be so true now. Even if she ends up on her feet, it could still be a painful landing. Pick her up and put her on the floor with a quiet “no” instead.

More from Catster Magazine: It Gets Better With Age: 5 Reasons to Adopt a Senior Cat

3. Give her soft spots

Siouxsie was delighted when I bought her a bucket bed lined with soft faux-fur and cushioned with foam. It kept her warm and didn’t put pressure on her sore hips.

4. Get regular vet care

Once your cat is in her teens, she’s aging at the rate of four human years for every one cat year. Regular veterinary checkups will ensure that your cat stays healthy and you catch any illnesses early. Most vets recommend twice-yearly checkups for senior cats. If you can afford that, great; if not, please try for once a year.

More from Catster Magazine: Respect Your Elders — or Sukki the Senior Cat Will Smack You

5. Give her a lift

Your elderkitty is probably not as strong and agile as she used to be, but she still loves being able to look down on her kingdom. Give her ways to get to her favorite high places, whether through ramps, steps, or even by picking her up and placing her there.

6. Cut her some slack

Your old cat may do things that annoy you: howling in the middle of the night, acting super-needy, or taking a nap in your clean laundry. Don’t give her a hard time for that; she’s simply seeking comfort or expressing fear about her changing abilities.

More from Catster Magazine: 5 Reasons Why Senior Cats Are Awesome

7. Lower the barriers

If your cat is going to the bathroom outside the litterbox, watch her while she’s doing her business and see what the trouble is. If she’s having trouble holding her squat and is therefore peeing over the edges of the box, get a box with high sides and a low entrance. If the box is too small, get a larger one. And if all else fails, invest in some puppy training pads.

8. Enjoy every minute with her

A well-cared-for cat can live into her late teens, or even longer. Don’t check out emotionally or spiritually because you’re afraid she’s going to die soon. Every creature dies eventually, and your cat deserves your love for as long as she’s alive. If you have fears around death, work on those now so you can be fully present with her until she draws her last breath.

More from Catster Magazine: My Senior Cat Won’t Eat or Drink — Is She Suffering?

What have you done to make your elderkitty’s life as awesome as possible, for as long as possible? Please share your tips in the comments.

Photo: Cat at dawn in the mountains by Shutterstock

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Read more: Cats, Everyday Pet Care, Pet Health, Pets, Remedies & Treatments, Safety

This post was written by JaneA Kelley, regular contributor to Catster Magazine.

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148 comments

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11:35AM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

These are all good tips for aging dogs, as well. Another is if your cat or dog is displaying signs of confusion or dementia, to try giving them a joint supplement that includes a bit of Vitamin C and giving them a Vitamin E capsule (will probably have to open it and distribute in food) from time to time. I really does help.

5:59AM PST on Feb 28, 2014

thanks for good info.

4:01PM PST on Jan 2, 2014

My Babes lived to 24. Was with me through all 3 husbands, she was the constant. She will always be missed. I tried to make her last couple of years as comfortable as possible. I believe she appreciated it!

3:37AM PST on Dec 31, 2013

Thanks

2:54AM PST on Dec 31, 2013

thanks

5:55AM PST on Dec 24, 2013

I recently had to have one of my senior kitties put to sleep. She was 15 and had kidney disease. But, I had an extra year with her. I do have young cats in the house and they rarely bothered her; I think they knew she was sick. I have 2 more seniors and I will try some of these helpful tips.

2:06PM PST on Dec 22, 2013

Great tips!

1:11PM PST on Dec 22, 2013

Thank you

2:26PM PST on Dec 2, 2013

CAREFUL use of a heating pad is appreciated by older cats at night- meaning set it on low, cover it with a blanket so kitty can't get too hot, and never leave it on if you are not in the house!

2:18PM PST on Dec 2, 2013

Thank you. I have no idea how old my cat is as he came to me from the street. He is black and getting white fur and seems older, so I appreciate the advice.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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