Infographic on how to make life better for an older cat

The Infographic says what I want to say on this but I can add a little bit of detail in these words. The first point that comes to mind is that for indoor/outdoor cats who go to the toilet outside it may be necessary at some stage during the autumnal years of their elderly cat’s life to provide a couple of litter trays inside the home because they are less likely to want to go outside for a variety of reasons one of which is inclement weather.

How to make life better for an older cat
How to make life better for an older cat. Infographic by MikeB.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Trimming claws

Ingrown cat claw
Ingrown cat claw. Photo: PoC.

It is very easy to forget about trimming the claws of an elderly cat. I know because I was careless myself many years ago. And once the claw turns in on the paw pad it is going to be painful to trim that claw. Prevention is better than cure which means your elderly cat will have to get used to having their claws trimmed. They are much more likely to grow long because of reduced activity and certainly for indoor cats it’s going to happen possibly anyway because they aren’t worn down by activities outside on hard surfaces.

Should Cat Claws Be Trimmed?

Yowling

Night-time yowling and wandering is a problem in older cats because of confusion and perhaps early-stage dementia. It might help to allow your cat to come onto your bed at night. Personally, I allow it anyway; it doesn’t matter what age they are. I think cat caregivers have to get used to this aspect of the relationship. It means some adjustment from cat and human.

Yowling at night
Yowling at night might be a sign of anxiety due to confusion which in turn is due to CDS. Picture in public domain.

Dr. Bruce Fogle DVM says that “allowing your cat to sleep with you often dramatically reduces night-time yowling, but don’t be surprised if a period of time later she hops off the bed at night goes elsewhere in the house and starts yowling again!” I have modified the wording very slightly.

Dr. Fogle had tried brain supplements to overcome yowling at night but with little success. Some cat owners use flower essences such as the Rescue Remedy series. He even suggests the possible use of drugs such as diazepam (for the cat 😎) which is Valium if you are desperate for some sleep.

End of life decision

A quick word about the difficult decision to euthanise or not an elderly cat who you believe is suffering. It is the toughest part of the human-to-domestic cat relationship and the most difficult about which to make a decision. My personal viewpoint is that you need an experienced and sympathetic veterinarian who you can trust to guide you on the degree of discomfort or pain suffered by your cat.

There are two guiding principles also in my view:

  • The decision is about what is right for your cat and not what is right for you. Sometimes people hang on because they can’t release their cat to go over the rainbow bridge. This might cause added, unnecessary suffering. The counterpoint is that sometimes people euthanize too early. That’s why the advice of an experienced veterinarian would be useful to decide the moment.
  • Jackson Galaxy, I think wisely, states that you should be with your cat when he or she is euthanized because it is the last duty that you will perform. To comfort him on his passing. It’s a tough one too because it is a very uncomfortable and distressing moment.

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