Some New Tips to Care for Your Senior Cat

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Newt, my sweet black cat with sparkling green eyes, will be 11 years old this year.

As time passes…

According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), cats reach adulthood at 7 years old, become seniors at 11 years old and become geriatric from 15 years old. As Newt prepares to transition from midlife to his final years, I have been focusing on how to help him age well, to age with grace, dignity and joy.

Isn’t that what we all want?


As mammals age, we all have things in common – Whether it’s a cat, a dog, a human, a horse or a rhinoceros –: general wear and tear on muscles and joints, decreased vision and hearing, and a decrease in the body’s ability to function (for example, you are less likely to run Although we are focusing here on our feline friends, it is useful to contextualize how your cat might feel about its own experiences. And from our own human experience, we know that there are a handful of factors that somewhat facilitate the aging process. These include: Diet, exercise and lifestyle. The same factors apply to our cats, plus a few others.

Let’s dive into each topic thinking about how to help our cats age gracefully!


This seems like a good place to start, as it affects all other aspects of your aging cat’s overall well-being. Come again? Cats thrive at a healthy weight, even in their golden age. Overweight cats find it difficult to do this important exercise that impairs the quality of life, and the other effects of being overweight include everything from osteoarthritis to diabetes to cardiovascular health and hip dysplasia… and much more.

How many calories does an elderly cat need?

Your cat’s diet plays an important role in her overall weight. It starts by consuming the right amount of calories every day, even if it is not as dry as in older cats = fewer calories than in humans.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, “in the same way as humans, the energy or caloric needs of cats initially decrease with age, but unlike humans, the energy needs increase around the age of 11. Indeed, as cats get older, they find it difficult to digest fats, proteins and energy.”Because geriatric cats need more energy, they may actually need more calories. Before you are tempted to switch your cat to a Senior formula, consult your veterinarian to discuss your cat’s specific caloric needs.

How much should I feed my aging cat?

Calories are just one part of the nutritional puzzle. Portion control is another big problem. Do not rely on the recommended serving size printed on the bag or box. Take into account your cat’s energy level, her age (for caloric needs, as mentioned above) and recent blood tests. Your veterinarian can help you determine the daily requirement per day and then divide it by the number of meals you feed. Then, keep an eye on your cat’s weight and adjust it as needed. For newts, we feed wet food for breakfast and dinner, and dry food for lunch. After an illness and a switch to a new protein prescription diet, we found that she was losing almost a pound–and for a 9-pound cat, that was a lot! So we adjusted her Portion – which does not match the one in the box – and now she is resting at a healthy weight. Be prepared to experiment and adjust as needed, and don’t forget to consider all the treats you could be feeding each day!

How much water should my cat drink?

Since kidney function can go-down with age, hydration becomes even more important – and we all know how important it is already. If you haven’t fed wet food, consider offering it or mixing it with dry food to give your cat more moisture at mealtimes. Monitor your cat’s favorite eating behavior. If she likes running water, such as sipping from a tap, consider a fountain. In our house, we have this pagoda fountain in a room upstairs and this Zen fountain downstairs. Newt seems to prefer the Pagoda, while Ripley, who is 5 years old, prefers Zen. Since both are available, everyone can choose. We also have a raised water bowl (similar to this one) for Cooper, and the cats often sit on the edge to collect his water. If you have several cats in your house or a combination of cats and dogs, place water bowls in different places so that your older cat does not feel that he cannot access his favorite watering hole.

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