As cats get older, they don’t have senior discount cards to look forward to – why would they? They’ve had breakfast, lunch, and dinner hand-delivered to them free for all their lives and that’s just the way they like it! Growing older for your kitty may mean arthritis or difficulty grooming themselves, and that’s where we come in. We’ve doted on them this far and now we need to adjust the way we take care of them to accommodate our resident Kitty the Elder.
Here are 5 ways to make your older cat more comfortable at home.
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MAKE EVERYTHING SOFT
Okay, I’m not suggesting you upholster everything in your apartment but you should definitely fluff out all the places that your older cat loves to curl up for the requisite number of daily feline Zzz’s. If he loves hanging out on window sills, get some cozy window cushions – you can find some specifically made for the purpose, including handmade ones on Etsy. For favorite floor spots, throw down a cat bed or a pillow, and include snuggly blankets your kitty can cuddle up with as well. Basically, what you’re doing is insulating your old cat’s arthritic limbs against hard or cold surfaces and making comfort king of the napping places.
MAKE CLIMBING EASIER
Building on the idea that senior cats are likely to have arthritis (because 90% over 12 reportedly do), this next accommodation makes sense. (If your older cat suddenly starts having trouble getting up and down from their usual places, always have them checked out by your vet.) If jumping or climbing has become a difficulty for your cat, make some simple changes to foster a home environment friendlier to their limited mobility. You can purchase pet steps to make it easier for them to climb onto your bed or other furniture, or even install ramps where necessary. You don’t necessarily have to spend much on these changes either – just making a series of firm steps out of likely objects (stool to a sturdy, weighted crate to bed, for example) is enough. You can also practice correct lifting of your cat to boost them where they want to go.
HELP THEM GROOM
Can you imagine not being able to wash or brush your hair? You don’t even want to think about it. And neither do our cats – they’re nothing but fur! (Except when they’re not; love to all my Sphynx, Donskoy, Bambino, etc. cats out there.) Yet becoming more inflexible as they grow older means they may not be able to reach everywhere for grooming anymore. So help them groom! Make sure you have a nice gentle brush (I love this one by Berso), and get some quality time in with your hairy baby each day. My giant orange tabby Tiger Jack has been having some trouble with his back recently, so he and my husband have been having daily brush dates. Tiger Jack enjoys all the attention and the soft, sleek fur.
MAKE NECESSITIES ACCESSIBLE
Cat boxes tend to have high sides, while food and water bowls tend to have a low profile – and this doesn’t always work for our older kitties. If they’re having trouble with either of these, there are easy solutions. To cut the cat box down to size, you can: look for a cat box with lower sides or use aluminum bakeware as a litter pan.
For the food and water issue, you can buy purpose-built bowls that come in lifted trays or on a platform – or DIY a secure platform for their bowls yourself. Get some BuzzFeed inspo here.
Whatever you do, make it as easy as possible for your cat to eliminate waste, stay hydrated, and get their nutrients. If you live in a multi-level home, this may include having a food/water station and cat box on every level. For your kitty’s comfort, it’s not too much to ask!
GIVE OLDER CATS LOVE
I know you love your cat, but your cat may require pretty frequent demonstration of it – and that may increase as they get older! Whether you have multiple cats at home and need to reassure the eldest that they’re still the best or your older baby just craves more affection, spending precious time with them is key. Share plenty of cuddles, but also play with them every day – if they’re arthritic, light exercise is important. So play with a fishing line toy or give them a kicker to roll around with. Just make sure that you’re gentle with them as you play.
That’s it: my top 5 ways to comfort Kitty the Elder. Deploy them yourself, then hit the comments to tell us how they work and what else you do to create a happy cat home.
(Note: if your older cat exhibits any changes in behavior or comfort levels, make sure you consult with a vet about their health. Routine vet care is definitely an important part of the equation in keeping our kitties comfortable.)