At this stage of life, it’s normal for your cat to start changing some behaviors and habits. It’s important for you, as your cat’s caretaker, to be able to recognize when a behavioral change may be the sign of an underlying problem that needs attention.
Lethargy and slower movement
A general increase in sleep and a decrease in activity is normal at this age. Don’t be surprised if your cat doesn’t greet you at the door anymore or is less enthused to jump on your counters. Cats who become less active as they grow older may actually be suffering from painful arthritis. Treating painful arthritis can be easy. There are even diets available with anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep your cat comfortable.
Behavioral changes such as hiding and/or reluctance to move or eat can also be a sign of medical concerns such as heart, kidney, or liver disease.
It is very common for aging cats to become more anxious and stressed about the unknown. Try to avoid uncomfortable situations for your cat such as meeting other cats or people. Keeping a routine and minimizing change can help decrease your cat’s stress level. Read our in-depth tips and tricks on transporting your cat.
Litter Box Blues
There are many possible causes for a senior cat to have litter box troubles. If they are suffering from arthritis, climbing in and out of your box may be too painful. Simply replacing your box with one that has a low entry point just might do the trick.
In some cases of inappropriate urination or spraying, using a synthetic feline pheromone (i.e. Feliway) inside the litter box can help solve the problem as well. However, kidney or urinary tract problems are common in older cats and can cause your cat to have accidents outside the litter box. Kidney or urinary tract problems, once diagnosed, can often be treated with dietary modifications alone.
Increased Urination and/or Water Consumption
Increased urination and water consumption can be a sign that your cat is developing diabetes. If you notice that you are replacing their litter or refilling their water bowl more often than usual, please schedule an appointment. Diabetes requires treatment and special dietary modifications.
As cats age, they may have problems with grooming all of the areas they could reach when they were younger. Brush your cat weekly to help prevent matts and keep your cat’s coat looking shiny. Having trouble grooming can also be a sign of pain or arthritis.
Other Behavior or Cognitive Changes
Age related changes that occur in the brain can result in cell death or damage, reduced chemical signaling, and increased oxidative damage. The overall effect of these changes is a deterioration in your cats cognitive functions. You may notice your cat is more vocal or appreciates more time alone. You may observe strange behaviors such as staring blankly into space or getting lost in familiar places. Unfortunately, we cannot stop the aging process, however we can make it a little easier. An antioxidant supplement or diet is a simple way to support your cats brain function.