Monday, March 4, 2013

Life with a Senior Cat

Life with a senior cat is never dull.  There's always something going on!  I'm no expert, but somehow I've managed to keep Cally going for 16+ years now... here is what I've learned by trial and error, with some help from amazing veterinarians.

Cally was a shy cat when we first got her, but as she's aged she is more social.  She definitely has a tortie attitude, and is very talkative.  Sometimes, though, she cries like she is a bit lost.  The minute I call out to her (sometimes a couple of attempts later, since her hearing isn't as great) she seems to calm down.  The vet confirmed she's probably having some "senior moments".  Also, Cally does pee more than she used to as a young cat (though never outside her box!), which is something you should always keep an eye on; it could be info your vet needs to keep track of.  But she still jumps up on the bed, dances around asking for treats, and enjoys her cat water fountain.

Cally has had some issues grooming for the past year or so.  I actually had her bathed and shaved because I couldn't get her matted fur brushed out close to her skin!  She didn't smell great either.  I was snipping little dreadlocks all the time, even when I brushed.  The shaving was great for a fresh start, and now she gets the Furminator to keep her coat nice and shiny.  I don't plan on doing that to the poor girl again, but I've learned that her chest and belly are the first place those mattes start to appear.  Gotta help her out!

Cally's weight loss in her golden years had me very concerned.  She was diagnosed with a hyperthyroid last year, so she's on medication for that.  Her oral care has both me and the vet worried; while Feline Greenies helps some with her horrid breath, she needs some dental work.  My previous vets wouldn't do it because of her age (you need anesthesia) but my current vet feels if we can get her healthy (thyroid/kidneys) enough he might consider it if it's needed and less high-risk.  We shall see.

Cally gets a checkup every 6 months now.  When she was younger, she honestly probably only saw a vet every 4-5 years, usually when something was wrong.  Now that she's a senior and her situation is more precarious, I take her twice a year as recommended by the vet.  It's not cheap, but she gets bloodwork and urinalysis done to make sure everything is working as it should.  (If you're concerned about costs, you can get an Optimum Wellness plan at your local Banfield veterinarian, which for your monthly fee includes these checkups.  I love my vet, so I'm sticking with him, but this is a great option to reduce the vet costs of taking care of your old ones!)

I've given Cally hyperthyroid medicine in both liquid (with a tiny syringe) and pill form.  The pill form is the easiest to deal with.  She likes chicken Pill Pockets, but sometimes she doesn't want to eat those right away.  So my surefire method is to shove the pill into a little piece of cooked chicken, which she gulps down happily.  Great way to get her meds consistently.

Since Cally is taking thyroid medication, the vet wants to make sure her kidneys don't deteriorate as a result. So I've switched her to Royal Canin's renal diet for cats, a dry food she has access to all the time.  I have to buy it at the vet or Petsmart, but she seems to have no trouble with its palatability.  I purchased the wet food as well, because I give her a small can of wet food in the evening, but since this food doesn't come in a variety of flavors I may rotate it in and out of her diet so she doesn't boycott it.  (Cally prefers that her wet food be as diverse as possible!)  And yes, wet cat food is smelly.  But I learned that this smell that repulses us is present to attract the cat!  So long as I can get Cally to keep eating, the better I feel she's doing in maintaining her weight and health.

Do you have a senior cat?  What have you learned about senior care?

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