Friday, 24 April 2015

Not yet over the hill, but often overlooked

 As your cat enters his golden years, he’ll need some extra understanding for his changing lifestyle. Cats are generally considered geriatric from around 12 years of age and there are lots of simple steps you can take to ensure the later years of your cat’s life are comfortable and happy. You will be rewarded with a content pet, who is often happy to spend much time quietly at home as a wonderful companion.
We will continue to cover the cost of veterinary treatment for pre-existing health issues, and also it is always nice to know that regardless of a cat’s age, we have a special agreement with pet plan, which means that you can continue their insurance cover for the rest of their lives. This means that ongoing veterinary costs will never be a problem.

These are our lovely senior cats available for adoption right now
The boys

Augustus age 12
Say "Hello" to Augustus! He came to us as a stray, but he must have had a home at some time as he is such a little dear. At his time of life, all Augustus wants is a loving forever home where he can relax and enjoy life. Could you take this handsome gent home?
Oscar age 14 
A lovely chatty boy who needs a new home as quickly as possible as he is approaching his twilight years and really misses the comfort and love of a real home. He is sweet and affectionate. If you have a cosy chair or an empty lap, Oscar would love to be the one to fill them. Can you offer him a nice quiet home where he can be the light of your life?
Tigger age 10
Tigger is a wonderful boy who is looking for a loving retirement home. His elderly owner went into a care home and sadly Tigger couldn’t go with her. He has lived on Dartmoor his whole life and has enjoyed going out on adventures so he would need a home with a nice garden. He is a sweet boy who is friendly and affectionate. Are you looking for a lovely companion cat?
The pairs
Blackie & Felix age 9 years
 Blackie and Felix are two sweet boys who are looking for a retirement home together. They are friendly and love strokes and a fuss once they get to know you. They need a quiet home with someone who has the time and patience to help them settle in and a nice garden where they can enjoy some fresh air. They are homely cats, so they won’t wander far. Can you give them the loving forever home they deserve?
Jasper & Alfie age 11
 When Jasper & Alfie's owner lost his job and his home, sadly they did too. Both of them are friendly, affectionate and love sitting on your lap. They have previously lived with children so they could fit into a family well. A nice garden to go in and enjoy the great outdoors would be great. Are these affectionate homely boys the cats for you?
The girls
Mandy age 14
Mandy is a quiet elderly lady who came to us when her owner was diagnosed with a terminal illness. All Mandy would like is to find a quiet and comfortable home to relax into retirement time. Do you have the space and time for this sweet female to grow old with you?

Lizzie age 14

Lizzie is a sweet elderly lady who came to us when her owner was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Lizzie is looking for somewhere quiet, where she will be loved and spoilt rotten. She is friendly and affectionate, so she will make a lovely companion. She would love a garden where she can relax and enjoy some sunshine. She has lived with another cat; she could fit into your home if you have an existing cat. Can you offer this sweet lady a loving retirement home?
Megan age 13
Megan has come to us as her owner has gone into care and could not take her with them. She has been living with her previous owners since she was a kitten and was a much loved pet, so they were sad to be saying goodbye to her. She is an independent girl who likes a stroke and a lap to sit in occasionally. Megan is looking for her own quiet retirement home where she can be pampered and spend her days enjoying the garden and the home comforts she has been used to. Can you offer her a happy future?

Cat-friendly homes for elderly felines
There are a number of small changes that can be made to your home which will have a big impact on the quality of your cat’s life. While a number of older cats appear to be ‘as young as they feel’ with many still showing kitten-like behaviours, others can benefit from a few home tweaks that ensure that all their resources are within easy reach.
Beds Allow your cat to reach favourite places to rest by strategically placing boxes or items of furniture for him to climb. Make sure he has a variety of cosy, well-padded beds in safe warm places that can be readily accessed. Your cat may enjoy the hammock style radiator beds as they are very warm.
Somewhere to perch up high Older cats can find it difficult to make accurate calculations when jumping and are not as agile as they used to be, especially if they are stiff, in pain or have arthritis. Provide easy ways for cats to access their favourite areas, such as using a ramp or small foot stool to give them access to high surfaces. Make sure it is wide enough and you could also cover it in carpet to give extra grip. It is a good idea to fashion some sort of crash mat underneath the ramp, in case the cat falls. Cushions under windowsills act as crash mats for uncoordinated or wobbly cats.

Litter trays and toileting Provide several litter trays in the house at all times, even if your cat has toileted outside all of his life. There are many occasions when an older cat will need an indoor litter tray, such as when it’s raining outside, if the normal toileting site has frozen over and is hard to dig, or if he feels intimidated by other neighbouring cats. Place the litter trays in quiet, safe areas of the home.Providing a large tray gives the cat plenty of space to move around inside. Make sure the tray has a low side so he can get in and out more easily. Some litter types that were acceptable as an adult may be too coarse for older cats. Don’t make any sudden changes, but provide additional trays with 3cm of soft, fine litter that he will find more comfortable under his paws. Older cats are less able to defend themselves or a territory and as a result may become more anxious or dependant on their owners. Some cats will feel reassurance from owners that accompany them outside so they are protected against the neighbouring cats. If your cat still prefers to toilet outside, provide a newly dug over border as close to the house as possible and maintain it regularly.
Water and food bowls Place water and food bowls in a variety of easily accessible locations around the house, both upstairs and downstairs so they are easy to find and he doesn’t have to walk up and down stairs just to get food and water. Speak to your vet about the most appropriate diet for your older cat.

Playtime Older cats still like to play, but they need more gentle, brief games than when they were younger. Use toys that are unlikely to intimidate them, such as a feather attached to string that is slowly moved past him. Experiment with different toys to see what captures your cat’s attention. Even if he only watches or slowly swipes the toy with a paw, it is still important beneficial mental stimulation.

Regular grooming As older cats may struggle to look after their coats, additional help and gentle grooming will help to keep your cat’s skin healthy and gives you some valuable bonding time with your cat. Stroking a cat is a great de-stressor and may lower an owner’s blood pressure.

Scratching posts Cats may still want to scratch but can find it difficult as they age. You could provide a horizontal scratching post or one with a lower gradient and softer material such as carpet, which he may find easier. Remember to check his claws regularly.
Routines Cats are creatures of habit and this characteristic becomes more pronounced as they age. They prefer a familiar, regular routine to provide predictability. Where possible, avoid moving furniture so that your cat’s environment is familiar and he can easily find his way around your home.

Veterinary care Seek veterinary advice early if you are worried. Remember, many of the disorders that affect older cats can be treated and managed to allow your cat a happy and content life, particularly when treatment is sought early. However, inevitably there may come a time when your cat is in continual pain, discomfort or distress, and the most loving and courageous way you can show him how much you care is to end his suffering. See Cats Protection’s Essential Guide: When to let go- for further information.

Your elderly cat and you Caring for an older cat in his twilight years brings a tremendous joy and many owners actively decide to adopt an older cat because of the endearing qualities he can offer. With their wandering days behind them, older cats tend to stay closer to home and appreciate gentle affection. Owners often comment on the special relationship they have with their older pet, enhanced by some simple measures and an understanding of his needs.
Please come and visit our older cats at the centre as they really love attention and need to be adopted as soon as possible as they get fed up in a pen. We look forward to meeting you and introducing you to our Golden oldies!

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