How to care for older cats

Cats are living longer due to better living standards and advancements in veterinary care. The average lifespan of a cat is thought to be 16 years, many can live into their twenties.

An older cat requires less supervision than a young cat, their energy levels are much lower and they already have experience of home life. Individual cats will have their own personality, but in general older cats tend to be more homely and relaxed. They can still be playful and enjoy going outside, but this is often less frequent than a younger cat.

Older cats can be a real pleasure to care for. They can make wonderful companions who really enjoy their home comforts, and you won't need to worry about them using your curtains as a climbing frame or training them to use the litter tray.

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Insuring an older cat

Consider whether you will insure your older cat. Most cats will experience some type of medical issue in their lifetime, many of which are related to old age. Think about how you will pay for veterinary care, can you afford it without insurance?

Most insurers will not allow a new policy to be taken out on a cat aged over eight years. We work with Petplan Charity cover, which will insure any aged cat rehomed with Wood Green, from six weeks old to twenty-two years old. You receive four weeks’ free cover and then have the opportunity to extend this.

Veterinary care for older cats

You should take your cat for regular OAP checks at your local vet – they will be able to monitor your cat’s physical health. Some of the most common signs of illness are listed below, please consult your vet if you experience any of the signs listed below:

  • Increased drinking
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Lack of hearing or sight
  • Loose or very dry faeces
  • Erratic or very lethargic behaviour
  • Lack of grooming

Treat your cat regularly with flea and worm products from the vet – they are still at the same risk of parasites even if they spend more time inside than out. You should also keep a close eye on your cat’s claws, they may struggle to keep the nail short and you may need to clip them regularly.

Older cats tend to thrive on routine and consistency in the home. They may have a lower tolerance of routine change and may become less adaptable as they age; if they do become short tempered on a regular basis you should consult a vet as it can be sign of stress or illness.

Looking after your older cat’s teeth
Older cats can be prone to dental problems and need their teeth checked regularly. Your vet can advise you about dental care on an ongoing basis. There are many products to help keep your cat’s teeth clean – including toothpaste, dental biscuits and seaweed plaque treatments. If you keep your cat’s teeth in good condition then you can avoid the need for regular dental treatment under anaesthetic, where the vet will clean and possibly remove teeth.

Keep an eye on your older cat

Most cats will suffer from age related illnesses such as kidney failure or hyperthyroidism. These are often misdiagnosed by owners, who put the symptoms down to old age. Keep an eye out for the symptoms – usually an increase or decrease in normal behaviours, such as eating, tolerance levels, urinating, drinking or grooming.

If you spot these types of conditions early enough, they can be managed responsibly and you and your cat can extra years of happy life together.

There is never a shortage of oldercats at our rehoming centres looking for a new place to call their own, with many years of life left to enjoy.

Unfortunately, older cats are more difficult to rehome. By offering one of our senior residents a loving new home you will be making a personal contribution to animal welfare. Take a look at all of our older cats currently looking for homes.