As Your Cat Ages...

Unfortunately, cats age and their needs change. We would love for them to stay the small furballs that are full of energy and fun, but time takes its toll. Though cats have fairly long lives, as they can live to almost 20 years of age, by about the age of 7 your cat is considered a senior citizen. Yet at 7, your cat is an “active senior.” It is not until the mid teens that cats really begin to slow down and show their age.

Cats don't age like humans. Below is a chart to get an idea of your cat’s age:

Cat vs. Man

1 year=16 years
2 years=24 years
3 years=28 years
4 years=32 years
8 years =48 years
12 years =64 years
15 years =76 years
20 years =96 years

When your cat gets older, it will show signs of slowing down. Your cat will not be as playful, and it may not be as agile as it once was. You will need to make some changes so that your cat continues to have access to his or her favorite furniture or hiding spots.

Your cat’s coat will also need more care. You will need to groom your feline friend more often as it will not be able to groom itself as easily. Also, the coat may become thinner, so you will need to make sure your cat is warm and comfortable. Heating pads are very helpful, as are sleeping-bag style beds.

Older cats are also subject to more outdoor dangers. They will start staying closer to home, and may not even need to go outside at all. However, your cat will need stimulation. Even though activity may slow down, your cat will still need some stimulation. Older cats crave more attention from you, but may not be as patient with rough play from children or other animals.

There may be a change in nighttime or early morning habits. Older cats often wake up in a state of panic, crying for their owner. They also may have more accidents, as bladder and bowel control issues start to occur.

There are some other occurrences that may require you to contact your vet. If you see changes in bowel movements or seriously bad breath, you need to see your vet. Also, older cats may eat less, but if your cat is not eating, losing weight quickly, or not drinking, a vet visit is in order.

Unfortunately, there will come a time when you just need to let go. It is not an easy time, but if your cat is suffering you may want to consider euthanasia. Putting your cat to sleep will be one of the most gut-wrenching decisions you will have to make. Though it is painless to your cat, there will be a lot of pain on your end. Still, discuss euthanasia with your vet, and be there when it happens. You will need the closure, and your cat will need you.

If you need help with your grief, you are not alone. Many people find letting go of a beloved pet difficult. You can join a support group or start a journal. Cry when you need to cry, and talk when you need to talk. You can even write your cat a letter. Express your grief and know that there are plenty of people out there who understand and are willing to offer support.