Two mistakes that owners of elderly cats sometimes make

14 December 2019
 Categories: , Blog


Caring for an elderly cat can be challenging; below are some mistakes that cat owners make when their pets approach their twilight years.

Not informing the vet of their cat's gradual loss of cognitive function

Owners of elderly cats will often not inform their veterinarian when they notice their cat's gradual loss of cognitive function, until this decline becomes very advanced, as they assume that their pet's forgetfulness, bouts of disorientation and the changes in their sleeping habits are just part and parcel of the ageing process. However, although it is normal for cats to get a little bit scatterbrained as they age, it would be a mistake for a person who owns a senior cat to simply put this change down to their pet getting old and not consult their vet.

Consulting your vet is a step you should take regardless since changes in a cat's cognitive function could be caused by a number of issues, such as dementia or cancer. If a person concludes that their cat's cognitive problems are an inevitable aspect of them getting older and they do not get a second opinion from their vet about them after first noticing them, their cat's cognition and general health might deteriorate to a much greater degree, and far more quickly, than if they had consulted their vet sooner.

For example, whilst dementia in cats cannot currently be cured, the quality of a cat's life can be maintained for much longer if they get a diagnosis from the vet and are then put on a new regimen. Said regimen may include playing with puzzle games that can slow down the loss of their cognitive sharpness, being retrained to do things they have forgotten (like finding their way to their litter box) and having their homes modified, to minimise the risk of self injury due to dementia.

Not making adjustments to the way they treat their cat as their pet develops hearing loss

Elderly cats will often gradually lose their hearing. One common mistake that owners of older cats make is not adjusting the way in which they treat their cat to account for the loss of hearing. This can make life more difficult for both the owner and their cat and may result in them having to spend a lot more time at a vet clinic that could have been avoided.

For example, if when they get home each day, they continue to greet and try to wake up their sleeping elderly cat by calling their name and petting them, this could result in the (now deaf) cat getting such a fright that he or she bites their owner, or falls off the surface on which they were sleeping.

As such, it's important for owners of newly-deaf cats to take a new approach to the way that they communicate with them. This might mean putting their hand up to their sleeping pet's nose so that the cat can recognise their owner's scent and be gently woken up by this familiar smell, and making a conscious effort not to be more heavy-footed when walking around their home so that their cat will notice the vibrations generated by their feet as they walk, and will not, therefore, be startled by their owner entering a room.