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Help please - making an old cat comfortable

(18 Posts)
RiverRocks Tue 11-Nov-14 11:31:23

T-Cat is getting on a bit. We inherited him from friends who emigrated at the end of last year. He was a rescue when they got him. We reckon he's between 10-12, but don't know for sure.

When he first came to us, he didn't like being stroked anywhere but his head, but as he settled in (so we thought) was happier to be stroked on his back. However, now the weather has turned colder, he's twice gone for people stroking his back, so we're wondering if it's arthritis. He is also a grumpy old man grin not a huge people cat.

He spends most of his time indoors, likes windowsills near radiators and has recently taken to sleeping on the digibox behind the tv, presumably because it's warm.

There are a lot of changes coming - New kitchen next month and I am currently pregnant with DC1 and due in March. He spends a lot of time in the living/dining area but it's all open plan to the kitchen.

I've been thinking about a cat tree for him because he likes to be up and will need to be away from a crawling baby when it starts getting colder again next year, but I'm having doubts he would use it if it was too covered/exposed/not warm enough. He doesn't seem to have any problems jumping up, doesn't seem to be in pain, but is much more 'careful' when doing it than 5 yr old R-Cat.

Does anyone have any suggestions of things we could do for him?

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 11-Nov-14 11:35:00

Firstly get him assessed by your vet there are things we can do to really improve old cats quality of life with pain relief.
Consider using Feliway whilst the kitchen is being done to reduce stress.
Cozie has a heated blanket for old cat that she swears by so you could consider that, though my old girl thought it was the work of the devil.

HeyheyheyGoodbye Tue 11-Nov-14 11:39:55

Somewhere soft to sit by something warm. So a nice bed by a radiator or something. If you get him a tree, there are ones with a padded bed on the top.

RubbishMantra Tue 11-Nov-14 11:45:34

My cats love their radiator beds, you know the ones that hook on?

evilgiraffe Tue 11-Nov-14 12:02:55

My elderly cat (now 21) has a heated bed, and I swear it's what has kept her going for the last five years or so. She hasn't been able to jump/climb for a long time, so I doubt that a tree would be helpful for an arthritic cat - especially as his ability to do it will be getting steadily worse. A radiator bed worked well when she was a bit creaky but still able to jump, though.

A warm bed and a trip to the vet are likely your best bets, I think

cozietoesie Tue 11-Nov-14 13:08:52

Here's some guidance that you may find interesting.

I'd vet him directly. My own old lad - and he's nearly 20 - has severe arthritis and is on meds as well as the living assists mentioned in the article. As Lone and others have mentioned - heat in particular: it's something that eases old bones so certainly worth considering. (My own old boy has an electric blanket but that's because much of the time, he can't curl up so likes to sleep long in the warmth.)

chemenger Tue 11-Nov-14 13:17:07

My old cat swears by the 24 hour underfloor heating in our bathroom, but putting that in just for a cat would be going too far even for me grin. She also has a blanket on a chair by a radiator which she is forced to use if one of us is annoying her by using the shower, so heat is important to her. I would also say take him to the vet because even 12 is not that old, mine is 17 and she is just getting creaky. My previous cat had meds for her arthritis which made a real difference (she was 18 or 19 at the end) and my brother's cat was 21 and also on meds for the last few years.

RiverRocks Tue 11-Nov-14 13:53:19

Thanks for all the replies. Our vet only saw him recently and it's an ordeal for him, so might try having a chat with them. Otherwise, DH can wrestle him into the box this time grin

Radiator bed has been ignored, so might look at heated beds/blankets.

Here is currently curled up in his new favourite spot, though I can't see it be very comfy confused

RiverRocks Tue 11-Nov-14 13:54:46

*being. The radiator is on the wall behind the curtain grin

Fluffycloudland77 Tue 11-Nov-14 15:40:31

He might use the bed when your not there or come round to it in the end.

Ours has a hot water bottle in his bed.

cozietoesie Tue 11-Nov-14 15:43:45

I think that having a chat with the vet is a good initial step but be warned: many owners and even some veterinary professionals wouldn't think too hard about arthritic problems in a cat who was only 10-12. (Or even older in some cases - cats cover up pain so well that it's not usually an in-your-face sort of issue, bad though it may be for the cat privately.) You'll see from the guidance, though, that the problem is more prevalent than many people might realize.

My own Seniorboy went on meloxicam about two and a half years ago for his arthritis. He now also gets some supplemental pain meds as needed because, sadly, it wasn't cutting it as the condition worsened. The meds have made one heck of a difference to his quality of life. (Although he loves his heated bed etc.)

Anyway - be sure to describe all his symptoms to the vet and best of luck. Let us know how he gets on.

RiverRocks Tue 11-Nov-14 17:30:18

Thanks again for the help, and the article cozie. Arthritis seemed obvious to me because of him getting funny about his back again as it's gotten cold, but that could be because I've never had cats to know 10-12 isn't that old shock.

Can't really put anything comfy where he's sitting now without it being a fire hazard, but might have a think about putting something comfy on top of the chest of drawers in front of the window/radiator for him. And that should be high enough for him to escape crawling babies.

cozietoesie Tue 11-Nov-14 17:35:42

Well it's certainly getting on but by no means doddering. (Depending on the sort of life the cat has been living of course and how good their care has been - unneutered feral toms only live for about 3-5 years if I recall.)

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 11-Nov-14 18:40:07

Oh Cozie it makes me soooo cross that there still those among my profession that dismiss arthritis in cats.

HansieLove Tue 11-Nov-14 19:24:19

Our cat, Scruffy, has been with us three years, he had been on his own for awhile. He was grouchy and had mats. I could pet his head but not touch any other part of his body. He would bite if I did.

He has been shaved several times, under sedation, the mats are long gone. Only now am I able to stroke him on his back. When that tail starts swishing, I stop.

I think you should not let others pet him. That's easier than trying to restrict petting to just his head. My GC leave Scruffy alone. Ruby and Rosie are much more receptive to petting. They love the kids!

trukevoli Tue 11-Nov-14 21:56:24

My cat Polly is only 4 and she will tolerate her back being scratched for so long and then enough is enough and she will attack. She loves her head being scratched.

I watched a really interesting YouTube video that when you stroke them it builds up a lot of static in them which eventually leads to the aggression. it's by Jackson Galaxy.

It really helped me.....just wish my partner would follow the advice.smile

catsofa Tue 11-Nov-14 22:18:44

Might be worth seeing if he'll go for a cardboard box of some sort, mine (aged 15 and also arthritic) loves her shoe box and another low sided box about 1ft square which has sides just the right height to loll her chin on to sleep keep an eye out for mice. I think the sides keep out drafts, and paper/card is warm and insulating (and good to chew).

I found one of these small furry rugs in a bin which she loves sleeping on in front of the radiator, and when the heating isn't on I sometimes heat up a long tube shaped wheat bag in the microwave and lie it along her back to keep her warm.

timtam23 Wed 12-Nov-14 00:12:09

My old cats always adored sleeping on fleece blankets. We were given so many blankets after the first baby was born, so it was easy to pass one or two on to the cats without anyone noticing!
Flannelette/brushed cotton sheets were also very popular. Even my remaining cat, who is only 1, particularly seeks out brushed cotton sheets.

My old female cat never really liked being stroked along her back, she was a bit of a grumpy one and had to be stroked on her own terms although she could be very affectionate. She also developed arthritis in old age but it didn't seem to make much difference to where she didn't like being stroked.

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