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The litter tray

Talk to me about your elderly cats

24 replies

hiddenhome · 11/09/2014 17:23


My rescue cat is about 18 now. She went to the vets today for her vaccinations, health check and fur de-matting. She's in good nick according to the vet and her heart is strong. She's thin and deaf, but still goes around as usual and even plays with a bit of string given half the chance. She loves lying in front of the stove during the colder weather.

I've never had a cat this old before (my boys were killed on the road/went missing), so I don't know what to expect as she gets old and near the end of her naturals.

She gets a bit confused sometimes and calls loudly and can't hear us when we give reassurance, so we don't call to her anymore, but go and see her face to face instead and she settles down then.

Can you tell me about how your elderly cat's care needs change and what I should be prepared for as time goes on?

Talk to me about your elderly cats
Talk to me about your elderly cats
Talk to me about your elderly cats
OP posts:
thecatneuterer · 11/09/2014 17:27

I still think about your missing cat hidden.

I've got lots of old cats, and have had lots and lots of old ones. Deafness can certainly be an issue, and I've had some go blind, but they all seem to cope remarkably well.

They just seem to sleep more, don't wander much, enjoy sitting in the sun and get a bit more clingy as they get older. I've had lots of cats in their 20s, one even got to 25, so you might have quite a bit longer yet.

hiddenhome · 11/09/2014 17:34

Oh, thanks for thinking about my cat who went missing. It's been a year now Sad I keep seeing his photos on my phone. I can't ever have another boy cat because I've lost them all. My girls never go anywhere other than the garden.

My old cat loves sitting in the sun and she lies on the window sill in the sun too. I'm getting her some arthritis glucosamine supplements from the vets as I think she's stiff and a bit sore perhaps.

I'm going to take her to the vets every six months for a check up from now on as she gets tartar build up in her teeth and I don't want her to get a sore mouth. The vet pulled a chunk of tartar off her back tooth today. She said she doesn't want her to go under GA for a full descale, but her other teeth aren't too bad anyway.

Wow, 25! That's an amazing age.

Do you know anything that might put a bit of weight on her? She likes Dreamies. I feed her Iams dry food and Purina Wet Pouches. I'd love her to gain some weight, she's skin and bone, but the vet wasn't too concerned. She's always been underweight, even when young.

OP posts:
stealthsquiggle · 11/09/2014 17:45

Ours was much as you describe from about 18 up to her death at the age of 21. We are convinced she has some form of dementia - she certainly got confused, and being deaf would sit and yell until someone came to find her - and we had to teach the DC not to come up behind her and scare the living daylights out of her.

We fed her senior pouches which she seemed to find more digestible - she would throw up normal adult cat food. She liked to lie in the sun and would piddle round the garden. We had to restrict access to the house as she decided she couldn't be bothered to go out to go to the loo (or even go downstairs to a litter tray Angry) but then her personal hygiene was never great by cat standards. She had to be brushed as she wasn't grooming properly either.

We finally took the decision to have her PTS when she was too wobbly on her legs to jump up onto chairs, and no longer wanted to go out and lie in the sun. She was clearly unhappy at that point and losing even more weight. If she had not been so plainly unhappy then I would have kept going.

stealthsquiggle · 11/09/2014 17:47

So many typos...

Poddle round the garden. Amongst other things.

catsofa · 11/09/2014 18:18

Mine was 10 when I got her and is now 15. She was a big fat heffalump when she arrived, but I don't restrict her access to food any more because she's lost weight and the extra fur seems to be mostly saggy skin rather than rolls of fat. She's been strictly on senior pouches and biscuits for a while as the vet said they are better I think for kidneys as they get older.

She's lost a lot of muscle tone this last year and is having trouble jumping up and down off things, sometimes falling a bit or tripping herself up. She still does jump on my head bed several times a night and onto windowsills etc though, so it obviously isn't painful or uncomfortable enough to make her not want to see out of the windows. I have chairs under the windows so she doesn't have to jump the whole way at once. Can now feel all the bones in her bum, which used to be well covered in muscle and fat!

Vet said she seems to have a bit of arthritis in her back legs so I put a few drops of cod liver oil in her dinner.

She is absolutely adorable, she sprawls flirtatiously in front of me all the time to persuade me to cuddle her, she is so affectionate and cute.

"Talks" a lot, and says a big ecstatic sort of "Mmmm!" chirrup to tell me how good my cuddles are Grin. Possibly getting a bit confused as she does yowl more often than she used to, sometimes has to be retrieved in the middle of the night from the next room for no apparent reason.

ProfYaffle · 11/09/2014 18:31

Our cat was 18 when she died. She was very similar to your description, she was a bit senile and confused but fine physically. When she was young I described her as a roughty toughty street fighting cat but in her dotage she loved being at home, in the warm, having a cuddle.

She actually became a much nicer pet for the dc as she suddenly wanted to be around them rather than cuff them for getting in her space.

One day I came back from the school run and found her in the garden looking like a broken puppet, turned out she had a stroke and was put to sleep at the vets that morning.

hiddenhome · 11/09/2014 20:24

Thank you for all your stories Smile

It is so strange when they call for no reason. It's as if just seeing you puts their mind at rest.

Mine has a Hello Kitty soft toy (that she stole from me) that she carries around when she's doing the yowling thing Confused

OP posts:
Fluffycloudland77 · 11/09/2014 21:22

She's a queenly looking cat. Nothing you could do would shock her, she's seen it all before.

MedusaIsHavingaBadHairday · 11/09/2014 23:41

She's beautiful! I love gingers and ginger girls are rare:)
My step mum's cat lived to 23. In her final years she was almost blind and very arthritic, but pottered from litter tray to food to garden very happily and was in decent condition tho a bit thin and old looking.

When she died in her sleep, step mum left her in peace for 24 hours as she had looked dead so many times when she was fast asleep she needed to be sure !

My eldest cat is 14 and still as active as a kitten , pouncing and killing birds so I hope to have for a while yet :)

hiddenhome · 12/09/2014 13:14

Wow, these cats over 20. I didn't realise they could go on for as long. I might have her for a few years yet then Grin

OP posts:
hiddenhome · 12/09/2014 13:16

Btw, I know it sounds daft, but how do you tell if they're blind? I know you can see cataracts covering the lens, but what about other forms of blindness? Do they go around bumping into things?

OP posts:
cozietoesie · 12/09/2014 14:12

I'm sure there are proper tests but in the main, for ordinary households, I guess it depends on such things as how ordered the cat's life and environment are and how quickly the sight problem has come on. Cats can adjust to loss of sight very well in many circumstances.

For example, I'm pretty sure that Seniorboy (19.9) has only some central vision left and that most if not all of his peripheral vision has gone. We have a fairly ordered household though; he doesn't go outside so knows his environment well and there are few physical changes in it; and the loss of sight is likely just gradual due to old age and not due to specific incident/disease etc.

He seems to manage fine anyway.

cozietoesie · 12/09/2014 14:23

PS - if I had to give you one word of advice about having an elderly cat it would be HEAT. They love having a good heat source all year round. Seniorboy has arthritis so likes to stretch his old bones out in comfort and therefore has an electric blanket switched on in my bed for most of the year so that he can lie between heat on the bottom and the fleece throw on top. (No draughts.) He's there now, not quite snoring but darned close to it - certainly luxuriating.


hiddenhome · 12/09/2014 17:27

Heat indeed,yes. Here she is relaxing in the sunshine just an hour ago Grin

Talk to me about your elderly cats
Talk to me about your elderly cats
OP posts:
AmyMumsnet · 12/09/2014 17:35

Mine is 16 and still looking lovely, so it's heartening to think I could have another 9/10 years with her .

Marlinspike · 12/09/2014 17:42

Mine was 22 when she died. Similar experiences to other posters; she got very confused and yowly, usually in the hall where she was confronted by lots of doors - I think she simply forgot which one she should go through! She got more fussy with food, and her poos became very dried up, so I think she had a tendency towards dehydration (although she always had lots of water available, and seemed to drink a bit more as she got older). She enjoyed sitting on the sofa (in her latter years she had to be picked up to get there) and on sunny days sitting outside.
A couple of days before she died she went missing - I really think she knew her time was up, and took herself off to die. We found her, luckily, by contacting the local vets - she wasn't chipped, but some kind soul had picked her up and made an appt to get her checked out. I collected her from them before that; I would think that had they taken her, the vet would have had her PTS, and we would never have known what happened to her. She had wandered about half a mile from home and collapsed in the road. I took her home, she had a pretty reasonable (for her) tea, then she slept on her blanket in front of the window, and passed away the next evening. I am so glad she died at home, as it would have been heartbreaking had she not been found, and perhaps caught by a fox or run over, or something horrible.
She was with us before we had children, and they grew up with her (although she kept her distance when they were small!) I miss her, but I know she had a lovely long life Smile

hiddenhome · 12/09/2014 18:26

That's a lovely story Marlinspike I'm relieved you were able to find her and that she died at home. I've read somewhere that cats take themselves off to die to avoid upsetting their owners, but I think the opposite is true and you need them at home to be cared for during their final hours.

OP posts:
Honsandrevels · 12/09/2014 18:36

We've had a couple of elderly cats. One lived until she was 22. She started to stay inside more and became confused such as expecting meals every 5 minutes but then not eating it. She never used litter trays but started to wee in the yard rather than venturing into the garden. After that she started weeing in the coal scuttle so we hid that and replaced it with a litter tray!

She was such a fantastic cat. She had a stroke and had to be pts in the end but we had another old cat that jumped on my dad's knee one evening and died in his sleep.

cozietoesie · 12/09/2014 18:51

Seniorboy likes to be close and talks a lot but it's difficult to distinguish that from his previous behaviour given his character. He always gets that anyway because I work from home so am with him most of the time. (And he sleeps in bed with me so that makes him content at night.)

His arthritis is quite bad now but his vet is very good with meds so he's not in pain although I've definitely noticed that he's less active than he was even a year ago. I guess he's just gently fading.

A happy boy still though. Smile

brittanyfairies · 12/09/2014 18:52

My old girl is 19 now and very similar to all these stories. She sleeps nearly all the time these days, only waking up for a couple of hours in the early evening for a drink, uses the litter tray, yowl at me and then goes back to sleep. She drinks a lot, hardly eats anything, is all skin and bone.

She's definitely deaf and I don't think she's got any peripheral vision left, she's a straight ahead sort of girl now.

She hardly ever goes downstairs so her litter box has had to be moved upstairs, but saying that she did toddle off downstairs and outside to get a bit of fresh air today - which is the first time she's been out all year.

I've got a builder working in the house at the moment and that was the first time he'd seen her awake in four weeks!

I do think this might be my last winter with her, (but I said that last year) this is a cold house. Last year she slept in the log basket because it was right next to the fire.

She spends every day sleeping in a window on a blanket next to the desk I work at so she's always close to me. She seems happy enough and I'll be heartbroken when she does eventually die, it just seems like yesterday I brought her home as a half-wild kitten with cat flu. I never thought she'd survive the first two weeks she was so ill and now she's the longest living of all my cats.

Won't miss the litter tray on the landing though - she always has a poo 10 minutes after I've gone to bed.

Marlinspike · 12/09/2014 20:14

Brittany, they leave a huge space when they're gone...

Hidden, your cat looks every inch the grande dame, enjoying the sun by the fence...

soaccidentprone · 12/09/2014 20:39

My elderly cat is 17. Her kidneys have started to go, and she has renal cat food, and some tablets to take every day. She only weighs 2.5 kg.

She sleeps on our bed all day, and on the sofa at night, and probably goes up and down stairs about a dozen times a day, either to eat, drink, or just go outside. She loves it when one of us is in the garden, she likes to follow us around. We keep a bowl of water in the bathroom for her. She likes to drink little and often.

She is still very sprightly. I saw her jump up onto a 5 foot fence recently, although she has stopped following me down the hill to the bus stop (thank god).

I'm pretty sure her hearing is starting to go, and she seems to feel the cold. I'm thinking of getting her a cat coat, but I'm not sure she'd appreciate it. Also she breathes pretty shallowly when deep in sleep. I watch to make sure she is still breathing. The other 2 cats defer to her, even though one is at least double her weight!

I think of her in old person terms;

Slight, and lost weight
Bit hard of hearing
Small appetite
In her own little world some of the time
Doesn't like the cold
Set in her ways
A bit demanding sometimes

I took her to the vets last week. She had a check up, blood tests, and I bought 60 tablets and some sachets of renal cat food. It cost just over 100 pounds Shock

Elderly cats can be expensive (but are lovely)

timtam23 · 12/09/2014 21:25

Your cat is beautiful. I had my 2 cats from kittens, they both died aged 18 - one a year ago, one a few months ago.

My old boy went blind, unfortunately we took a while to notice but with hindsight it was obvious. He started getting under our feet, he seemed not to notice when his food bowl was filled up and he became a bit more "clingy". Eventually when he fell off the arm of the sofa we realised something was wrong. He needed treatment for high blood pressure but carried on for another year or so. He slept a lot and didn't like wet cold dark weather very much, he used to love finding a sunny spot and sleeping in it whether indoors or out. We had to keep all the internal doors open for him and not move the furniture around - also had to stop the kids leaving toys lying around.

My old girl had arthritis & then kidney failure, she was a bit cranky in her old age and spent even more time asleep than old boy did. Both of them had various "interesting" litter tray habits (old boy would wee in the tray, then clamber out & solemnly poo on the floor). As they became very old we didn't leave them on their own for long periods or put them in a cattery/get a catsitter, so no family weekends away etc and we didn't all go away on holiday together for 2 years which our families thought was a bit extreme (none of them have cats) - one of us took the kids away & the other stayed with the cats

I fed them Hills Science Diet senior food and then changed to James Wellbeloved cereal-free, but they both absolutely loved FelineFayre tinned food especially tuna & prawn (it is one of the more luxury brand cat foods but is sometimes cheap in Home Bargains/Quality Save). I didn't give them special renal food etc as neither of them liked it and as eating was one of their main pleasures it seemed best to give them food they enjoyed.

TalkinPeace · 12/09/2014 21:49

my family wouls swap cats with yours like a shot
the best thing I can say is to read the comments on my thread and judge
because cats are unbelievably resilient

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