Tuesday, October 13, 2009 1:37 PM

In Praise of Older Cats

Speaking of older cats, I have to say that I love them. I also love kittens, young cats, middle-aged cats...but seriously, elderly cats have a lot going for them. As your cats move toward senior citizen status, you'll notice some changes that will endear them to you even more (if possible).

How old is "old"? Well, the old method of multiplying by 7 each cat and dog year of life has been usurped by the newer "aging model". Consider your 2-year old cat or dog as a fully-realized, mature individual (human, that is) of 21 years. After that, each additional year equals 4 human years. Therefore, a 10-year old cat is no longer considered 70 human years old, but a mere 53 years young. Still anthropomorphic, but probably closer to the truth.

Ten years is middle-aged, certainly. Just like the over-50 human crowd, you'll probably start noticing little aches and pains in your cat. They may develop arthritis, not be able to jump as high as they could before and may start putting on weight. The lenses of their eyes become just a little bit more opaque; this is natural, and doesn't affect their vision. Ten years is when cats just start to show their age, this being particularly true of outdoor cats fed a commercial diet (including dry food).

Cats, like the rest of us, tend to slow down as they age. This means that they don't fight as much, knock things over and generally get into trouble. You can actually leave the house for a while and not have to worry about them wrecking stuff so much anymore! They also mellow; cats that were once little hellions can become downright cuddly. Since they sleep more and crave warmth, this means you will now have cats that want to curl up in your lap and sleep with you at night without jumping on your head at all hours. What cat lover won't welcome this turn of events?

Tomorrow: Making small changes that will keep your elderly cat healthier and more comfortable.
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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