One of my cats is 16 now, and the other two are 12. As such, I have been researching the topic of senior cat care quite a bit in recent years. I love my cats like family, and I want to do everything in my power to keep them healthy and happy for many more years. Though there may be some things outside of my control, there are steps I can take now and in the future that will positively impact the longevity of my beloved fur babies. I’ll cover some of them briefly in this post.
When Does a Cat Reach “Senior” Age?
The funny thing about this question is that the answer depends upon who you ask. Some cat experts put the senior age as low at 7, while others say it’s more like 10 or 11. There is no “absolute” age that classifies a cat as senior. This is due in part because, like humans, some cats age faster than others. If your cat is 10 years or older – about the equivalent of a 56-60 year old human – you can safely assume they are a senior.
As a cat ages, health issues are bound to arise. The best way to help ensure longevity is to catch problems as early as possible. Early detection of age-related conditions and illnesses will enable you and your veterinarian treat them more successfully. Many health issues can be delayed and/or managed provided they are caught in the beginning stages. Since cats are quite good at hiding illness and may not appear unwell to you even when there is an underlying issue, a wellness check every six months is recommended. For a senior cat, six months is about the same as you seeing your doctor every two years, which is certainly long enough for health changes to occur.
Oh sure. The phrase “working cat” might seem to be the best example of an oxymoron, bar none. It’s true that cats are not generally known for their dedication to hard work. They probably think dogs already do enough work to benefit mankind and there’s really no need for them to have a job. Or maybe they just enjoy long catnaps in the sun. Who really knows? Suffice it to say, if you Google “cats with jobs” you won’t find a very long list.
That does not mean, however, that cats are not working at various times throughout their day. You may not realize it, but cats are on the job much more than it would appear to the casual observer. That’s because most of their “work” come naturally to cats. Here are 7 jobs that cats do admirably well.
How many times have you felt unwell and found yourself being nursed back to health by your feline friend? My cats always seem to know when I need the “healing power of the purr” and they stick to me like glue until I am feeling better. I am certain their purrs and loving presence hasten the healing process.
Look, we all need someone to tell our secrets to, and not just the deep dark ones either. The best thing about having a cat for a confidant is that you just know they won’t go running to every cat in the neighborhood saying “Guess what Julia just told me!” You don’t even have to preface telling them your secret with “Now, please don’t tell anyone, but…” Their lips are sealed, no matter how juicy your secret is.
Contrary to what those tired old stereotypes say (cats are aloof; cats want to be left alone; cats don’t bond with people, etc.), many felines are total love bugs. Many cats crave affection from humans and will return the love. However, because every cat is an individual, some will naturally be more affectionate than others. It depends on several factors. Some things simply can’t be changed, such as inborn personality traits and the way they were treated in the past by other humans before you. Luckily, a third factor – the things you do with and for your cat – can absolutely change the level of affection you get from them. It may take time, patience, understanding and determination, but improvements can be made. Here are some things you can do to develop a stronger bond with your cat and encourage them to be more affectionate.
Meet Their Basic Needs
This has to be the very first thing, because when you meet your cat’s needs they are happy. And a happy cat will naturally feel more affectionate toward the humans who are meeting her needs. See how it’s all one big circle? So make sure the litterbox is scooped daily and provide several types of scratching posts, an assortment of cat toys, access to fresh clean water, and a high quality food in the flavors your cat finds palatable.
It’s been 10 years, but I still remember the look a friend gave me after I expressed dismay that her “poor cats” were never allowed to go outside. At the time, all of my cats, past and present, had the freedom to go out as much as they wanted. I actually thought it was a bit unkind that my friend was depriving her cats of the outdoors, and when I said her cats could never be happy living indoors, that’s when I got “the look.” She vehemently disagreed, and it was clear we’d never see eye to eye.
A lot has changed since then. For starters, I now know that I was dead wrong about indoor-only cats not being happy. Secondly, I’ve changed my practice of allowing my cats unlimited access to the outdoors. It’s a personal decision we all have to make for our own cats. I just came to the conclusion that for me, the risks of allowing them outdoors outweighed the benefits. It’s been proven that indoor cats live longer and healthier lives, and I wanted my feline friends to be with me for as long as possible. However, I worried about their emotional state because I still struggled with the idea that indoor cats could be happy.
What I have found, after years of research and personal experience, is that some indoor cats will be just as happy as they could by having access to the outdoors, and some will not. There is no one size fits all answer; it really depends on several factors.
When fellow writer Laurie Darroch wrote 10 Dog-Related Terms Used in Conversation, it got my wheels turning. I’d never pondered it before, but I felt certain there would be an equal number of cat-related words and phrases. I was right; I came up with ten off the top of my head (what they were doing on my head is beyond me, but there they were!). All that remained was to prowl the back alleys of the internet for origin information and trivia about the cat terms.
Here’s what I found:
This noun refers to a person who does the same thing as someone else, i.e., they imitate another person’s behavior, style or practices. It’s a curious term, given that cats are not exactly notorious for imitative behavior. The first known written evidence of the word was in Constance Cary Harrison’s 1887 quasi-memoir Bar Harbor Days: “Our boys say you are a copy cat, if you write in anything that’s been already printed.” It’s thought that the term was probably used in speech long before this, but the origin is unknown. Today, the word is often linked to illegal acts, i.e., a copycat criminal.
This expression dates back to Shakespeare’s time, when theatergoers would make a raucous shout or a shrill sound with a whistle to express disapproval of the bad acting. It’s thought that the name originated because the sounds were similar to that of an angry cat. Nowadays, a catcall is used to describe men who harass women by whistling at them or making lewd comments when they walk past them.
I always have a great time helping to choose the winners for each CANIDAE photo contest. I mean, come on – who wouldn’t enjoy looking at a bunch of photos of adorable pets? The hard part for me is when I have to get down to the business of choosing my favorites. It was even more difficult with this contest, because the theme was rescued pets. So there was the usual menagerie of cute photos, but also heart-tugging stories of how the pets found their forever home.
The #CANIDAEfureverhome Contest, as it was called, received hundreds of submissions. How could we possibly declare one of these beloved pets the winner? They are ALL winners, because they were rescued, and they now have a wonderful home with people who adore them!
Nevertheless, the CANIDAE pet loving panel hunkered down and picked their favorites. I wanted to share their photos and stories here, and a few of the finalists too. I truly wish I could share every one of the touching rescue tales we received because, as I said, all of the pets win by getting adopted!
Dog Winner Chosen by CANIDAE: Macy
Macy is a 2.5 year old shepherd/collie/mystery rescue from Washington state. She was on her way to the shelter when I found her at 12 weeks. She had already had 3 families that couldn’t handle her energy, but that is what makes her the best hiking/running/adventure partner I could ask for.
Cat Winner Chosen by CANIDAE: Boots
You can see in this picture by her ear clip that Boots was originally a true born feral. I finally lured her and her sister inside, but Boots has become my savior and hero during some difficult times the last 2 years. I can do more to her than my other cats like toe rubs, belly rubs and much more. She saved my life.
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