Even 25-40 years ago, only some cats lived at home for a little more than twenty years. Over the past decades, the length and quality of life of Pets has increased significantly. Today, the age of 18-20 years is already considered the norm. This was largely due to the development of modern veterinary medicine, the victory over many diseases, including “cat depression”. The increase in the average age of life was also possible due to the availability of high-quality, specialized, balanced nutrition.
Age-related cats have their own behaviors, habits, and daily routines. And of course, they require specialized conditions, maintenance and care.
Features of age-related changes in cats
Every living being goes through the same stages of development from birth to death. This is a natural biological process that is beyond the control of humans. As much as we would like to extend the life of Pets, but sooner or later there comes a period of aging. Once a frisky, active kitten was interested in everything: catching up with a Sunny Bunny on the floor, scratching new Wallpaper on the wall, and making a good noise when the family is resting. Years have passed, and now this fluffy ball has become a wise, imposing, burdened with life experience pet. More sleep, more peace. From now on, there are no playful, thoughtless actions — the follies of youth are in the past.
The reason for changing the behavior of an adult animal lies in the physiological processes occurring in the body. The nervous system of cats older than nine years is not as flexible as in the first years of life. The pet becomes more vulnerable, more difficult to tolerate nervous shocks and stress, more susceptible to phobias and fears.
The need for sleep increases. Older cats sleep longer during the day than at puberty. Physiologically, this change in the regime is justified, and should not cause concern if the animal’s behavior is not accompanied by signs of dementia.
Changes in adult cats and appetite, due to less mobility, there is a tendency to obesity.
There are the following common signs that indicate old age: increased sleep time, lack of playfulness, and a tendency to gain weight more quickly.
Rules for feeding elderly cats
Nutrition of adults and old animals should be based on the principle of “do no harm”. Overfeed your Pets to the full – means, with a high degree of probability, doom them to illness and suffering. Over-feeding leads to obesity and the appearance of diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and many others.
In order to protect the cat from obesity, you need to periodically weigh it and monitor any weight deviations by adjusting the amount of food. An adult animal consumes significantly less energy per day than at a younger age: by 15-20% or more. Accordingly, the need for nutrition is also reduced.
Of course, the pet is likely to disagree with the reduction of the diet, especially if used to free feeding. But free uncontrolled eating is likely to lead to overeating, and with it – to obesity and diseases.
The diet should be balanced and contain the required amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. According to research, the need for adult cats in protein food does not decrease, which means that the protein content in food does not need to be adjusted with age. The recommended protein content in the diet is about 30% of the dry matter in the food.
Lack of taurine, calcium and phosphorus leads to irreversible changes in the body and the development of difficult-to-treat pathologies. Despite the fact that the skeleton of an adult cat does not develop in the same way as a young one, the mineral composition is also not subject to serious changes with age, since the assimilation of mineral components by the body worsens with age.
An elderly pet should always have access to clean, fresh water. The amount of food salt should be reduced as much as possible.
Thus, we can conclude that with age, the animal does not need to dramatically change the diet. Feeding should remain balanced, rich and high-quality. The most important thing that the owner needs to do is to monitor the amount of food eaten and control the weight of the animal.
Common diseases and methods of their prevention
Elderly cats have a number of widespread diseases: cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, uremia. The course of all these ailments can be controlled by the appropriate diet.
Kidney failure in many cases can be treated by selecting the appropriate diet. The feeding regimen of a sick animal is based on reducing the amount of salt, phosphorus, and in some cases, protein in food. A veterinarian will help you prescribe medication and form the right diet for kidney failure.
Symptoms of kidney diseases are: lack of appetite, increased need for water, increased urination, in some cases – vomiting. If these signs are detected, it is recommended to contact a veterinary clinic for professional help. A simple change in the diet can cure the disease and prolong the life of a pet.
Another common cat disease is uremia. It occurs in animals of all ages, but in adults – much more often. The main sign of the appearance of the disease is a rare, often painful urination with blood. Uremia is a serious disease caused by ureteral obstruction that requires urgent professional help from a veterinarian.
In uremia, as a rule, in addition to medication, a specialized diet with a reduced dose of protein and a significant amount of urea is prescribed. The diet also includes a set of vitamins and minerals for better splitting of stones in the bladder.
The next common ailment of elderly cats is cardiovascular diseases of various pathologies. They are most often found due to poor nutrition and a pronounced taurine deficiency in the diet. Symptoms are a specific persistent cough, weakness, fatigue, apathy. In the case of such diseases, a salt-free diet is usually recommended. A veterinarian can make an accurate diagnosis, prescribe treatment and form the necessary diet.
Aging of cats is not a disease, it is a General biological and natural pattern that is characteristic of all living organisms. How this stage of a pet’s life will take place depends largely on the owner. With high-quality care, good living conditions and high-quality balanced nutrition, an animal in old age can live a long, disease-free and happy life.
Hi, my name is Mike Fletcher. I am 36 years old and a veterinarian at a veterinary clinic in Granby Colorado. And this is my blog about Pets. I hope I can answer your questions here.