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The elderly cat: Understanding them and adapting

Old ginger and grey cat advice © Pixabay

A cat is deemed to become a senior at 7 years of age. However, the current life expectancy is on average 15 to 18 years depending on the breed, most certainly for indoor cats, regularly vaccinated, dewormed, fed good food, etc..

By Emilie Heyl

Cats are considered "old" after 10 years of age. Although mainly affecting the cat's physique and reflexes, not to mention its flexibility, there are also behavioural changes to be expected.

These changes should not be alarming as long as they do not occur overnight and too overtly. If your cat changes drastically overnight, a visit to your regular veterinarian is a must.

A change in behaviour

But let's get back to the behavioural problems of older cats, even senile cats (over 15 years old). Generally, these are character traits that become stronger: a moaning cat will begin to moan more, a fearful cat will no longer want to be approached, a cuddly cat will become less cuddly etc.

Why is my sweet kitty refusing a cuddle? Quite simply because, like us humans, with age they become less tolerant: there have more pains, and very often a caress can become a real ordeal for them. What they may have accepted only yesterday, because they weren't experiencing pain, or only a little bit, can now become really unbearable.

It is, of course, recommended not to force your elderly cat to be stroked: an unlucky scratch is only the tip of the iceberg.

Accept, and adapt to your old cat

Your cat will feel unappreciated, unloved, and become easily stressed. They will isolate themselves, or even seek to flee their home to find the tranquillity sought elsewhere....

However, this should not be ignored, quite the contrary. You should show them that you care about them, even as they get older, and don't forget to tell them, because you can no longer prove it to them with cuddles.

If they remain playful, remember to shorten the play sessions, don't force them, as they will of course get tired, but more importantly may suffer afterwards and this will make them afraid to play again.

Don't tolerate everything!

Obviously, we must not tolerate everything, a cat, even an elderly one, must respect the rules, they should not be allowed to take advantage of it, which they will inevitably tend to do.

If the living room table has been off limits for 12 years, it does not become a conquered ground just because it has become more difficult to run after a ball!

A little more comfort is often required, such as warmth. Think of radiator hammocks in winter. Cosy and close to a heat source, it is the elderly cats favourite place. But even a blanket, a small place at the foot of the bed, a comfortable cushion, all near a source of heat, will make your cat feel so good that in the moment, they may even come and give you a big cuddle with a toy and some purring!

Just like before, but in small doses, as in cuddles and games, but also in sweets.

There is a whole range of Fleurs de Bach that can adapt to the character traits that have become pervasive in your kitty, and here again you will have to act on a case-by-case basis for more targeted action. Some can make them want to play again or reduce their bad moods.