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postheadericon A feline friend can be a wonderful pleasure

A feline friend can be a wonderful pleasure. Every cat has his or her own personality, which incorporates all of those little idiosyncrasies just like ourselves. It is a fact that cats like to think that they are the boss; they often have us running around after them and some of us are well and truly wrapped around their little paws!

Throughout their lives – which are now anywhere between eight and twenty years – they need constant love and affection as well as nutrition and general care. It is in their latter years when the care becomes more involved, just as you would expect with any of our elder relatives and friends. These senior years start from about eight years: with that bit of extra care and attention they can live contentedly for a good few more to come.

Above all, it is your cats’ general comfort and well-being that is the priority. They need reassurance, a regular pattern that they are happy with and lots of attention. Vet visits may also need to become more frequent, just to ensure that their health is still good as they age. They must be wormed and flea treated regularly to keep them in tip-top condition. Any medication should always been dispensed on the advice or prescription of the vet. Advances in veterinary science and technology, along with our increasing devotion to our pets in general has meant that the lifespan of the average household pet is a lot longer than in previous decades. This means that more of us will experience what it is like to live with an elderly pet, and should prepare ourselves accordingly.

One of the first signs of ageing signs is the loss of certain senses – specifically sight and hearing. This can sometimes of course be mistaken for a cat’s natural snootiness! This then brings about the fact that they become more susceptible to dangers that were not so much of a worry a couple of years before. They may be unable to hear or see vehicles and other animals, for instance. It may therefore be advisable to confine your cat to more suitable areas, either solely within the house or in restricted areas outdoors where they can be safe and still content.

If you, like me, have owned cats that turn their noses up at food on a regular basis, it will be of no surprise that this may well increase as they get older! Mine for one has to have a least 3-4 brands or food types on the go otherwise she will get fed up and just refuse whatever is there until you change it accordingly! Needless to say, that her selective hearing never stops her from noticing a tuna can being opened or cheese being cut! So far, her sense of smell and taste is still there, without question. But it could be that these senses are deteriorating; regularly changing foods and adding extra moisture will keep your old timer interested as well as suitably nourished. It is also important that water is always available for them. As age creeps on, cats can occasionally become dehydrated as they often don’t seem overly bothered about drinking. Again, by adding moisture to their food, you will know that they are receiving adequate fluids.

As we grow older, we become less flexible and supple. This is true also of our moggies. Common ailments include arthritis, and because it can be more of an effort to get about, they do sleep more – if that is at all possible! The lack of movement also can mean that they plump up a bit. This in turn can be a double edged sword as more weight can not only make it more uncomfortable to move but brings on other health issues further along the line.

You will need to ensure that some playtime is incorporated into their day and that the diet is well controlled. After all, you as a discerning owner wants a cat that is still active in mind and body – don’t you? Regular exercise will also help them to retain some muscle strength and tone. As with humans, if muscle groups are not used, they will atrophy. By keeping your cat relatively active you will also help to keep at bay the more serious health issues of heart disease, digestive disorders and diabetes.

In this respect, I am very fortunate. My 16 year-old lady still enjoys her mad ten minutes racing about the house, up and down the stairs, behind the sofa, chasing toys and wrestling with her catnip cushion. Needless to say, she sleeps pretty much for the rest of the day after that, but hey, that’s because she can! She is still known to jump out of windows, to peruse the neighbourhood over the conservatory and garage roof when it is hot enough. But it is rare for her to venture out far anytime between November and March, as it is just far too cold for those poor old bones!

As cats get older, it can be difficult for them to groom themselves, especially in some of the more contorted positions they used to achieve as kittens. Daily grooming of your cat can keep those nasty hairballs at bay and also maintain your loving bond with each other. Their hair can also become dryer and more knotted as they are unable to reach it. Sometimes the coat can thin or lose its shine; grooming will help to stimulate those all important natural oils again, enabling a glossy shine and healthy coat. It’s like them having a little massage and we all understand the benefits of that! Grooming and massage increases blood flow, nerve stimulation, aids relaxation, releases tension and pain, and aids the respiratory and digestive systems.

It’s fair to say that one of the things that cats are really great at is sleeping. Therefore as they get older, they do indeed tend to sleep more & their comfort is imperative. If yours is like mine, she will slowly move around the house, following the sun so she can slowly cook throughout the day! It is very rare for her to stick with one particular place, maybe moving several times in just one room. During the night, I regularly have a constant heat source at my side. Wherever they sleep will always be determined by them. You must however ensure that any area or bedding is kept clean and free from any mites or fleas. If your cat prefers a more up-market bed and isn’t satisfied with any old cushion, there are various beds available to buy including ones that hang from the radiators & most will encircle your cat in the utmost comfort.

Another fact of getting older is the deterioration of teeth and gums. Unfortunately cats can’t clean their own teeth, so it’s up to you. Poor teeth can be a major cause of bad health. With the build up of plaque, gums can become problematic. They in turn can produce infections which affect a cats internal organs. Always try to check their teeth if they let you, otherwise those regular visits to the vet will keep an eye on them. If you’ve introduced your cat from a young kitten to having teeth brushed, good for you, as this is the best way to ensure your cat’s oral hygiene. There are many cat toothpaste and toothbrush products on the market if you’re brave enough! Otherwise certain food brands which claim to have have teeth-cleaning properties in them – especially dry foods that break up in a certain way – may be effective.

Unfortunately there are some more serious conditions that cats develop as they age. These include constipation, a decrease in organ function and diabetes. An older cat also finds it harder to fight off disease as their immune system lessens in its ability. Ensure that if you see a change in their toilet routines that you see your vet at the earliest opportunity just to rule out any underlying problems. You may also find that their behaviour may change in relation to their health or maybe just because they find it harder to cope with their environment. It is best to avoid any undue stress to your older puss-cat as their tolerance levels and coping stategies are not what they were. So it’s probably not a good idea to expose her to uninvited attention, such as visiting children she is unfamiliar with.

An important point to note here that it is a good idea to make sure that you have adequate pet insurance in place before your cat reaches her twilight years – that way you will be better protected should
your feline friend develop any of the common ailments associated with old age. It is never too late to buy pet insurance – at Animal Friends Insurance they insure cats of any age; they don’t have to be kittens to be elegilble.

At the end of the day, we care so significantly for our cats that we will do pretty much anything for them. Letting them grow older gracefully and healthily in their twilight years is all they ask of us.

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