For older cats information, talk with an older cat owner. Older cat, older owner — doesn’t really matter which!
When my son was barely fourteen, we went to the local animal shelter to get a dog. There weren’t any small dogs to be had (we lived in a small house!), so we planned to come back the next weekend. We decided to stroll through the cat area before we went home, just to see some cute cats. That’s when we met Dave.
He wasn’t Dave yet. As my son walked by a cage that housed about 20 kittens, not yet Dave climbed the side of the mesh cage and meowed. Loudly. Since he was only about 6 inches long, James laughed and reached in to pet him. He quickly crawled up James’ arm and tried to make a home in his shirt collar. He was petted and fawned over and then put back in the cage. We thought we might pet another kitten or two. We were wrong. Notyetdave was persistent and a really good climber. And a loud purrer. We took him home and named him Dangerous Dave, after a character in a video game my son was playing online at the time.
Aging is a state of mind, right? People don’t always act their age – and neither do cats. A 70 year old person may act like a young adult, while somebody else the same age may at like he or she is on a deathbed. My Uncle Luther started the great downhill slide on his 40th birthday. He spent the next 40 years certain that every day was his last.
Cats are pretty much like people. Your pet may act like a kitten for many years or may feel old and grouchy even when he’s young. Specific breed, environment, and genetics play a role, but in general, a well-cared for house cat usually lives to be at least 15 years old. Some cats live to be well over 20. My current 16 year old cat still hides around corners so he can jump out and scare us. Then he laughs. Really.
There are things you can do, no matter what your cat’s disposition, to provide your cat with the chance for the longest life possible.
* Have your cat spayed or neutered. Statistics show that fixed cats live longer, because this causes the cat to stay closer to home and be exposed to few dangerous situations and disease.
* Make sure that you are buying cat food that is appropriate for your cat’s age.
* Indoor cats live longer. Consider keeping your cat inside.
As your cat ages, you may need to accommodate certain medical conditions. Your cat may suffer from any of the following illnesses or limitations: reduced tolerance to extreme temperatures, slow reactions, blindness, susceptibility to infection, arthritis and joint stiffness, digestion problems, liver and kidney problems, weaker bones, deafness, cancer, muscle weakness, memory loss, high blood pressure, and irritability. In fact, cats and humans face many of the same aging issues.
Make sure to encourage exercise in your cat. You can do this by playing with your cat every day. Toys and environmental pieces, like scratching posts, are great for encouraging your cat to exercise. Remember, cats may spend a lot of the day sleeping. A cat nap may only be 10 minutes, but there are 5 or 6 every hour.
Make sure that your cat has regular checkups with the vet. It is always better to prevent problems than to treat them. You should also brush your cat’s teeth daily and have your cat groomed regularly to prevent skin diseases. Your cat will love grooming because it is a chance for attention from you. Monitor your cat for diet changes, altered sleep habits, and unusual thirst. Your cat will be much more likely to age happily the more you are involved in his or her life. Do your part to keep your older cats well, happy, and with you for many years to come.
Oh, whatever happened to Dave? My son’s daughter is now in the second grade and she thinks Dave belongs to her. She doesn’t yet understand that we all belong to Dave. He’s sixteen and going strong. He’s still loud and pushy. He still keeps us entertained with kittenish antics and generous affection. He makes our lives richer every day. He is our encyclopedia of cats information. Kittens are great, but I think older cats are the best.