As we reach the end of September the days here are getting shorter, the weather is distinctly colder, light levels are lower and the trees are on the turn, swapping their bright green summer leaves for the browns, reds and golds of autumn.
The year is getting older, and soon, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, it will be winter.
As the year turns autumnal it feels appropriate that this month we're going to talk about cats in the autumn of their years - our senior 'Meezer Geezers' - and what to look out for as they age, and how best to care for them.
But first, a warm welcome to those of you who've joined our newsletter list over the summer, and a welcome back to our regulars!
When I left you at the end of June Covid-19 seemed to be on the wane - here at least - but it has since returned with a vengeance with cases firmly on the increase.
hope, wherever you are in the world, that you've managed to stay clear
of the virus and that you, and your human and fur-families, are all safe
How old is old? According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, a cat comes to maturity at around seven or eight years old, with cats entering their senior years at the age of eleven.
(If you're interested in how old your own cat is, in human years, check our Cat Age Chart.)
As in humans, advancing age affects every part of a cat's body. 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 you'll find a run-down of the things you'll need to be aware of, and some of the conditions that may occur as your cat ages:
It's really important to have your older cat checked over by a vet regularly - an annual or, ideally, a six-monthly check 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.
There's a little more information on this page of our website, but if you'd like a more detailed explanation about any of the issues mentioned, you may find the following books useful to have by your side.
The first 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:
Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease by Helen Fitzsimons, who runs the website of the same name on chronic kidney disease in cats, and
Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life by vet Elizabeth Hodgkins, whose original website, The Diabetic Cat, was the forefunner to Diabetic Cat International, that I mentioned above.
You can of course find most of the information in the two books above on their respective websites. Sometimes, though, it's easier and quicker to find the information you're looking for in a book.
Some years ago I came across a delightful article from the BBC about a cats' retirement home attached to a more conventional Rescue.
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 provides a comfortable, happy home where elderly cats can live out the rest of their lives in peace.
If only there were more such places to care for our older cats should the worst happen to us ...
We opened with a pumpkin picture so, as September slips away, let's finish by looking ahead a few weeks to Halloween. It's likely there won't be much trick-or-treating this year, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't decorate for the season - in these times a little color and fun is probably more needed than ever.
So let's finish with two Siamese cat decorations from ever-popular artist Suzanne Le Good. I have these to brighten up my kitchen as the days get shorter, and love them both.
Perfectly Siamese and perfectly seasonal!
Printed on card, decorated with orange, gold and green glitter and laminated, this lovely bauble of a Siamese cat with his carved pumpkin measures just under 5.5 inches across and is finished
with a green satin ribbon.
A perfect companion to the pumpkin above is this 'Siamese Towers' hanging sign, featuring a Siamese cat with his Oriental kitten friend all ready to go trick-or-treating in their witches' hats.
It has all the Halloween trimmings you can think of - spooky doorway, broomstick, pumpkin, sparkling wand and lanterns!
That's all for September; I'll be back at the end of October.
As we head into the shorter, colder months, remember to wrap up warmly and make sure your cats, whether young or old, have plenty of warmth, cuddles and treats to sustain them through the winter!
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