At the end of February I promised that this month we'd take a look at older cats, and what to look out for as your cat ages. My lovely boy Bandit is now eleven or twelve (we're not sure of his exact age, as he came from a Rescue and before that was a stray) and although he's still got a lot of life left in him, he's noticeably started to slow down recently. So age has been much on my mind.
Bandit - sleeping in a sunny spot warms his bones
Image copyright © Life with Siamese Cats
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, maturity in a cat starts at around seven or eight, with cats entering their senior years at the age of eleven. If he were human, Bandit would probably now be in his early sixties (if you're interested in how old your cat is in human years, you can check our Cat Age Chart here.)
As in humans, age affects every part of the cat's body. The heart and lungs, other major organs like the kidneys and liver, glands (in particular the thyroid and pancreas) the immune system, muscles, bones, teeth, sight and hearing all become less efficient as a cat ages.
So it's helpful to know what to look out for and expect as your cat enters its senior years.
Below, there's a brief run-down of what you need to be aware of and the conditions that may occur as your cat ages:
An annual or preferably six-monthly check by a vet will go a long way towards identifying and coming up with treatment plans for everything above, so do make sure you schedule a regular check-up for your cat.
As I was in the middle of writing this month's newsletter I was amused to come across a BBC article about a cats' retirement home.
The Lincolnshire Trust for Cats (in Lincolnshire, UK) provides a lifetime home for cats whose owners have died. Many cats in this situation are elderly themselves and difficult to re-home due to their age. This very unusual retirement home, attached to a more conventional Rescue, provides a comfortable, happy home where elderly cats can live out the rest of their lives in peace.
... I thought you might enjoy this video from interior design website Houzz.
Peter Cohen, a California house designer and builder, built ramps, ledges, bridges, passageways and an indoor fish pond to turn his home into a wonderful cats' playground for fifteen rescued cats (and three humans!)
As you'll see, a number of the cats are Siamese or Siamese mixes, and all the cats clearly enjoy their unusual and beautiful cat-friendly home.
Now if only I had a spare $50,000 ... !
Last month I wrote about toys and had a few follow-up emails and thoughts.
Glenn, whose cat Nicci was Meezer of the Month in May last year recommended leaving a radio on as cats seem to like the company, and I've read of other people who leave their TVs on for their cats. Cats do seem to enjoy having some sort of low background noise for company, so you might like to consider it if you're out all day.
And Janet, whose cat Lexi was a Meezer of the Month in 2013 told me that Lexi brings all her 'ribbon' toys up to bed with her and lines them all up neatly in a row!
Our Meezer of the Month for March is Buddy, described by his owner Lauren as her 'guardian angel'. Named after Lauren's grandfather, Buddy was found abandoned with his three kitten siblings behind a Coca-Cola machine on a college campus.
Now a thriving young adult, Buddy has brought joy and laughter to Lauren's life and makes friends with everyone he meets. Read Lauren and Buddy's full story here.
Image with thanks to and copyright © Lauren (Clemson, SC)
One of our Facebook regulars, Darlene, posted a photo recently of her first-ever cat, Mowzer, a lynx point Siamese cross.
Mowzer was rescued as a tiny kitten (so small he could fit in the palm of Darlene's hand) from a back alley on a very cold spring day. He was a devoted family companion and had a good long life, surviving till the ripe old age of 21.
I've always heard that Siamese cats could live to a good age, and some of them well into their 20s, so I asked our Facebook readers how old their oldest Siamese cat had been. I still have to go through and collate all the replies but will give an update on this in April.
Image with thanks to and copyright © Darlene Konduc
In a short newsletter like this I can't, of course, hope to cover all there is to know about caring for older cats. If you'd like to know more about the issues mentioned, you may find the following books useful to have by your side.
The first of these is Complete Care for Your Aging Cat by Amy Shojai, which, as its name suggests, is a comprehensive book covering all you need to know about older cat care.
Two other good books are:
(You can of course find most of the information in the two books above on the respective websites. Sometimes, though, it's easier and quicker to find the information you're looking for in a book.)
And that's it for us for this month. April, usually a lovely month here in the UK and one which Bandit always enjoys because of the returning sun, will soon be warming things up for some of us (or cooling them down, if you're in Australia or other parts of the southern half of this planet of ours.)
Wishing you and your Meezers, however old they may be, a very happy April. We'll be back towards the end of it to talk about Cats Who Chew!
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