Cats grow old too. Because their lifestyle is so “slow” – sleeping, napping, eating, purring, etc. – we usually do not easily see the effects of aging on cats. But if we were more attentive, we would notice that perhaps our cat no longer climbs on the refrigerator door, and that he no longer sunbathes on this very high shelf near the window. As long as our cat still enjoys sleeping and purring by our side, being petted and eating, there is nothing to worry about, right? Yes and no: It is important to be attentive to our cat’s aging signals to make sure that he is still feeling well. In fact, cats tend to act like a prey in this matter, and they try very hard to hide any weakness they have.
So, how old is my cat in human years?
The simple rule is one cat year equals seven human years. This simple rule is however not exact, as cats tend to age quickly in the first months and years, and then their aging rate slows down. Indoor cats and outdoor cats also do not age at the same rate, outdoor cats being exposed at more accident and illness risks due to their lifestyle.
This illustration is very helpful in estimating a cat age in human years:
How long do cats live?
Indoor cats typically live between 12 and 18 years, and numerous cats commonly live comfortably in their twenties, while outdoor cats have a lifespan of around ten years. “Freedom” therefore has a high-price on a cat lifespan: It almost cuts it in half.
What are the signs of aging in cats?
Aging cats are less agile – They will find resting spots that are easier to access. They will play less. They might need two attempts to jump on the bed. We usually notice that they are less agile when the proof is…smelly. Aging cats can in fact find it hard and painful to go in their litter box from now on, and they might choose to do their business elsewhere.
Aging cats have less muscle tone – Because they are less active, they loose muscle mass, which changes their appearance. Some cats will have a lot of loose skin and appear to be bony, while other cats will become chubbier.
Aging cats can have a neglected appearance – Cats love to groom themselves, but aging cats can find it more tiresome or be incapable of reaching certain body areas, which will show in their general appearance. Like us, aging cats also tend to grey.
Aging cats can act confused – Aging can bring confusion…and even senility. Senile cats can start meowing for no reason in the middle of the night, act disoriented, have inappropriate urination or defecation, and just have an overall change of behaviour that affects their interactions with their family.
How should I feed my aging cat?
First, it is important to look at portions. Less active cats usually need less food. But some aging cats become skinny and might need MORE food. Then, it is important to see if the cat is indeed eating these portions! Sometimes, aging teeth can make eating very painful to some cats, and they react by eating less. A good solution for them in addition to good dental hygiene is to pour water or broth on their kibbles so that they get easier to chew.
They are numerous food recipes for senior cats on the market. At Oven-Baked Tradition, we have an “adult recipe” that meets the need of aging cats just perfectly with additional ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints, and high-quality proteins and fats. In the Holidays, we will launch a new recipe for senior/weight control cats, which is going to have less fat and more glucosamine and chondroitin, an even better choice for aging cats with special needs.