As your cat gets older some daily tasks can become a lot more difficult for them. This may be because of changes to their mobility and/or their vision. There are a few simple changes you can make around your house which can greatly improve your cat’s ability and comfort when getting around.
Most cats already have litter trays in the house, but if you don’t, it would be of great benefit to give your cat the option to use these inside
● You may need to provide a large, shallow tray instead of a deep one – as cats become arthritic, they may struggle to make the step into the litter tray
● If they currently have one with a lid, it may be best to take this off to make it easier to get in to
● Make sure to provide enough so there is one for each cat in the household, and one spare
● Use soft or fine litter
Make spaces high up easier to access
Lots of cats enjoy being up high, it makes them feel safe. This can be especially important if you have a multi pet household.
● Use additional items of furniture such as stools, chairs, cat trees, or even ramps, to make it easier for your cat to reach places like window sills or shelves they can sit on
● Make sure each high place has at least two ways to get on/off it
● If there is a place your cat usually jumps off, put some carpet or a non-slip mat down where they jump from as this will help with grip
Lots of cats become less able to groom themselves as they get older, so they may need some help. It is best to try and get your cat used to being groomed before they become older and need it, so they learn it is not stressful or painful. This is especially important in long haired cats as they can become matted.
● As cats become arthritic they can struggle to groom themselves – try and do frequent but short grooming sessions to comb out loose hair and prevent matting
● Long haired cats will commonly get matts under their arms and on their tummy – most cats do not like being groomed here so you will need to slowly build up to brushing here
● Try different types of comb/brush to find one that suits your cat’s fur and that they’re comfortable with
● Their nails will also become thicker and so may need trimming so they do not grow into their pads – be sure to check this and trim them or take them to your vets if needed
Increase water intake
As cats get older they commonly end up with problems with their kidneys. A very important part of managing this is to increase their water intake. Cats are notoriously bad at drinking water but there are some things we can try to encourage them to drink more.
● Have multiple water bowls around the house – ideally one per cat plus a spare
● Place water bowls away from food bowls and litter trays
● Ceramic bowls are the best material for water bowls – plastic ones can change the taste of the water, and some cats may be scared by their own reflection from stainless steel bowls
● Try to use bowls that are wide and shallow – cats don’t like their whiskers touching the edges of the bowl
● Try cat water fountain – lots of cats will drink more from moving water
● If your cat goes outside, put a bowl outside to catch rainwater
Another very important factor to consider is pain management. Research has shown that 90% of cats over 12 years old have some level of degenerative joint disease. So be sure to take your cat to the vet for regular check ups as they may benefit from medication to help keep them pain free.