Old Cat, New Behavior
Much like its owner, a cat’s behavior changes as it matures. As the rebellious days of youth fade, a wiser, more leisurely companion emerges. Between ages 8 and 11, a cat enters its senior phase of life and considerable physiological changes occur. A slower, more relaxed lifestyle replaces the boundless energy they had as kittens. Decreased physical activity is to be expected; joint stiffness and reduced dexterity are a normal part of the aging process. Activity patterns may shift dramatically as your pet’s circadian rhythm changes, resulting in an altered sleep-wake cycle and more frequent daytime naps.
Elderly cats are prone to decreased cognitive function, taking longer to complete their daily routine and becoming disoriented more easily. A moderate degree of hearing and vision loss is to be expected. Your cat may begin spending time in new areas of the home, usually centralized and well lit, where they feel more comfortable and secure.
However, not all behavioral shifts should automatically be attributed to normal aging. Sudden physical changes or rapidly decreased mental function may be an indication of an underlying medical condition. Periodic examinations (usually every 6 months for senior cats) are the most effective way to determine if symptoms are the result of a treatable medical cause. If you notice abnormal behavioral changes in your aging cat, please contact us right away to rule out serious health problems and help him or her to age with comfortable grace.