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Common Conditions - Articles of Interest - Cats Can Age Gracefully

Cats Can Age Gracefully

Just as humans get greyer hair, more wrinkles and bouts of arthritis, senior pets develop a variety of signs suggesting they too are aging. Unlike a fellow human, our feline friends can't take responsibility for their health care; they rely on us as pet parents to do this for them.

The following are just some of the changes that can occur with senior cats:

Reduced grooming

Owners may notice that as cats age their grooming habits may change. They begin to groom themselves less and often their coat can smell and become matted. Owners can help their feline friend keep up with their grooming by lending a helping hand and brushing them regularly.


As cats get older they may reduce their water intake. It is important that they be encouraged to drink frequently because some dehydration in cats can result in kidney disease. It can help to place more water bowls around the home to remind the cat to drink. A water fountain may often entice finicky drinkers that look for the freshest water.

Brittle Nails

Cat's nails can become quite brittle as they age, this can be due to them exercising less and utilising their scratching poles. In some cases, their overgrown nails may embed into their paws causing infections and pain. Regular and thorough inspection is recommended and ofcourse frequently trimming those nails down.

Dental Disease

As cats age they are more vulnerable to dental decay. Their teeth may appear dark yellow or brown, often accompanied by an unpleasant odour. Cats showing signs of dental disease may paw at their mouth or have trouble eating their dry kibble. Dental cleanings should be performed on senior cats by a veterinarian to prevent any further problems occurring.


Just like humans, cats get joint problems as well. If your cat is suffering from arthritis it's actually quite easy to improve his/her quality of life.

  1. Improving their environment. Your cat may benefit from a few simple changes around the house like providing comfortable warm bedding, a litter tray with one low side for easy access and keeping food and water bowls within easy access.
  2. Watch your cat's weight. A reduction in food intake might be necessary. This means cutting out tit-bits, reducing portion sizes and feeding your cat less fattening foods.
  3. Visiting your local vet for a physical assessment, there are now many medications and supplements available to support cats with suffering from arthritis.

Weight loss/obesity

These are two opposite problems yet they are both common in senior cats. Obese cats should shed the extra kilos to avoid extra strain on joints and lower the chances of diabetes. Some cats instead appear to become skinnier as they age. It is important to weigh senior cats once a month and report to the vet any subtle and progressive signs of weight loss. In some cases, these lost kilos may be indicative of an underlying condition such as kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, liver disease or hyperthyroidism.

It is so important to keep a close eye on senior cats and with regular visits to the vet report any suspicious changes that you have noticed. It is thanks to these observations that many times cats will age gracefully and can live with dignity up to 16-17 years of age and even 21 years in some cases.

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