Keeping Your Senior Cat Healthy

Activity is the key to good senior cat health.

At age 10, a cat would be nearing retirement age in human years, so it's only natural that older felines take time to relax. But just as we need recreation to stay fit as we grow older, so does your cat. Lack of activity will speed the deterioration of the heart, digestive system, joints and muscles. And, as the body slows, the mind and senses become less acute in senior cats as well.

To encourage play in your senior cat, move toys around the house and regularly introduce new ones. You might use catnip to entice your senior cat to play with you. A feather or an object tied to a rod is an especially stimulating toy that lets you simulate the movements of prey to get the attention of your leisurely senior cat.

At all ages, cats remain curious creatures. Any cat owner knows the allure of a paper bag or a cardboard box. Leave out these playthings for your senior cat and replace them when they no longer draw her attention (or when she has shredded them to pieces).

Know when your senior cat is simply showing her age and when she is showing signs of illness. Older cats sleep more, but they should not withdraw and hide. They should still move about the house every day. If your cat does exercise but breathes heavily or tires quickly it may signal disease. Tell your vet right away.

Your senior cat may sleep in the corner most of the time, but be sure to show affection and talk to her regularly. The bottom line: While your senior cat may seem content to ignore her humans, it's important that her humans not ignore her.

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