Old age is not a disease
As a result of advances in veterinary medicine, more knowledgeable care and improved nutrition, cats are now living much longer, healthier lives. Just as for humans, the passage of time has its effects, and you may begin to notice that your once-frisky feline seems to have slowed down a bit. Being aware of the natural changes that can occur as your cat reaches their golden years, as well as what you can do to help keep your pet as healthy, active and comfortable as possible, can ensure that you both enjoy this final stage in your cat’s life to the fullest.
How and when will I know that my cat is getting “old”?
As cats move into the geriatric phase of their lives, they experience gradual changes that are remarkably like those of aging humans: their hair may turn grey, their bodies are not as limber and reflexes not as sharp as they once were. Hearing, eyesight and the sense of smell may deteriorate and energy levels seem to diminish. In fact, the first sign of aging is often a general decrease in activity, combined with a tendency to sleep longer and more soundly. Such signs may begin to manifest themselves anywhere between the ages of 7 and 11. Furthermore, a healthy cat who lives indoors, especially one that has been spayed or neutered, will most likely age later than one which has been affected by disease or environmental problems early in life. Thus, while wild or feral tomcats have an average lifespan of only 3 years, a castrated male house cat that is well cared for can live happily and healthily into his late teens or early twenties. Again, as with humans, the aging process will vary with the individual. Your veterinarian will be able to judge when it’s time to consider your pet as a “senior”.