Getting older can be very overwhelming for your cat. A lot of the traits and senses she uses to understand her environment and feel safe (agility, hearing, sight, smell) become dull or nonexistence, and she may have to completely re-learn how to navigate without them. As her needs change, so may your relationship with her. You may have to do a bit more work to make sure her needs are met and that you’re able to maintain your amazing bond. Here are 6 ways to make it happen.
#1 – Note changes and take action As your cat gets older, she’ll be more susceptible to illnesses, injuries, and other health issues. Don’t be quick to shrug off any changes to her habits, appearance, or behavior. If anything seems “off,” make an appointment with your veterinarian, who can help get to the bottom of what’s going on. Catching problems quickly can save your cat’s life.
#2 – Announce your presence
Many cats experience (full or partial) loss of sight and hearing when they get older. In order to help your cat feel safe in her home, announce your presence when you enter a room so you don’t accidentally sneak up on her. If she has lost some hearing and is facing away from you, give her a visual cue by flickering the lights as you enter the room. If she has lost sight, or both sight and hearing, you can speak when you enter or stomp on the floor once or twice to alert her with vibrations.
#3 – Alter your home Senior cats have different needs than younger cats. One of the main distinctions between the two is that senior cats are generally not as agile in their old age. Many senior cats suffer from achy or stiff joints that can cause pain or discomfort when walking, running, or jumping. You can relieve a lot of stress and anxiety for your cat by altering your home to make it easy for her to access everything she needs. Make sure she doesn’t have to climb a flight of stairs to reach her food, water, or litter box, and consider adding a few ramps so she can still nap in her favorite spots.
#4 – Help with grooming
Achy and stiff joints can keep a senior cat from properly grooming, especially in hard-to-reach areas (which, unfortunately, are usually the ones that need the most attention). Help your kitty out with grooming sessions a few times a week. Most cats will love being the center of attention and will be very excited about how good the brush feels.
#5 – Minimize stress A cat whose senses aren’t feeling exceptionally sharp can quickly feel overstimulated in an environment that’s loud, unpredictable, or often changing. To help her feel more relaxed, keep your home routine as predictable as possible (especially when it comes to when she eats meals), and do what you can about avoiding major changes like introducing a new roommate or pet to your home.
#6 – Make time
I know life is unpredictable and busy, but the best way to stay bonded with your senior cat as she goes through all of these big changes is to consistently make time for her. Some low-key playtime is great if she’s feeling frisky and she’s physically able to play comfortably. Otherwise, simply being in the same room with her while you read a book or watch a movie can help keep your bond strong.