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Senior pet month: caring for your older cat

It isn’t surprising that a senior cat has needs that are different than those of a young cat, but how do you know when your cat has reached their ‘senior’ years?
Generally, cats over seven should be considered seniors and their needs will usually change from this age. 
Arthritis and dental diseases are the most common issues within older cats, and it’s important that as a responsible pet owner, you prepare for your pet’s change in needs.
Here are some of our tips to help your senior cat:
1. Feed your older cat a diet specifically targeted at seniors
It is recommended that older cats eat softer food to avoid dental issues or potential tooth damage/loss.
2. Feed your cat to remain at its ideal body weight
It can be much easier for older cats to get overweight. Sometimes with being older comes a natural low in energy, or if they have mobility difficulties, they aren’t burning off as many calories as they once would.
It’s important to adjust the amount of food you’re giving to your pet. Overweight cats have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, liver disease, skin disease, even cancer. 
3. Watch out for dehydration 
One of the most common conditions an elderly cat can suffer from is dehydration. The majoirty of owners provide water in the same place as the food bowl, however cats naturally hunt for food and search for water separately. This means putting water near food can deter the cat from drinking it, therefore resulting in your cat becoming dehydrated.
Try placing food and water bowls away from each other, and if you notice your cat is not drinking much, place two bowls away from each other and their food.
4. Take care of your cat’s mouth
Keeping on top of your cat’s dental hygiene may seem like a silly idea but, it can help keep disease away in the longer run. If you cannot brush your cat’s teeth, consider dental treats that help keep their teeth clean.
5. Keep them mentally stimulated 
Play and enrichment is important for cats of all ages and should not be abandoned for senior cats. Interactive toys and food puzzles can help keep senior cats entertained as well as helping to burn excess calories and keep muscles and joints healthy.
6. Change things up
Older cats with arthritis might benefit from litter boxes with lower sides so they can get into and out of the box easier. Be sure that food and water are easily accessible. Don’t force your arthritic senior cat to go up and down stairs.
7. Get specific advice from your vet
Your cat needs to be examined at least yearly if it appears healthy, as many diseases are hidden and not apparent.

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