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People With "Old" Cats, Advice?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
OK- I know everyone here wants their cat to live fully and long, healthy lives, but I am wanting to elicit advice from people who have had old cats (upper teens maybe?) What do you think has helped your cat live so long? Any particular food he/she's always been fed? Any "rules of thumb" in his/her care? Indoors and outdoors or indoors only? Regular vet care, shots, teeth cleanings, etc? Certain special care that you think might have made the difference, like NO canned food or NO treats, or a treat here and there ;-) ??

I have had a couple of cats live to be 15 and 18, and they ate the cheapest cat food (dry) and rarely got their shots (these are my mom's cats, when I was young). One died of mouth cancer that came on quickly. The other is still kickin'. Two of their relatives were run over when they were 10, but could have lived long lives if kept inside (and after that none of the other cats went out). But what about getting past the mid teens, and into the late ones? Twenties even? I love all my cats, and one I think is my cat soul mate, and I want to do what I need to do with their care to give them the best chance of being here for a long time, healthy and happy.

So any tips, advice, from you who have lots of experience raising cats? (I have 4 years under my belt).

post #2 of 11
My first cat, Katy, lived to be 17.
She would ONLY eat Friskies dry and canned food (the bottom of the nutritional barrel!)
She was an indoor/outdoor cat who used to fight bobcats off of our property. She did receive regular vet care but never ONCE had her teeth cleaned. She finally succumbed to kidney problems in October of '03.

I think the only things that really helped her live as long as she did were that she was always very active, never once was overweight, she was spayed, she received regular vaccinations--and a lot of love!

I'm not sure there's any magic formula for gauranteeing longevity in cats--much like with people. My grandmother lived to 87 on a diet of rare prime rib, scotch and cigarettes! Who knows?

Lots of love and good vet care, that's all I can suggest!
post #3 of 11
Although i have old cats, i have adopted them old. Making sure the cat is spayed/neutered will prevent life threatening illnesses such as cancer and pyometria. I like mine to have yearly blood tests to keep an eye on their organs, one is fed on Senior food, the other only has senior biscuits (she wont touch Senior wet food unfortunately). Other than that, i dont think there is anything you can do.
post #4 of 11
I've seen a huge variation between my individual cats in how they age - Macumba (RB) developed hyperthyroid at 11, kidney problems at 12, and we had to let her go at 17 when she developed complications from heart failure. Felixia is at least 17 or so now, perfectly healthy, and still playful like a kitten.

Even though some cats can do well and live long on a very basic diet and minimal care, some won't do as well this way, and providing extra care for even the toughest cat may extend his/her life & keep him strong & healthy even longer.

The thing I would recommend above all else is that you get a senior cat regular health checkups, including a 'geriatric workup'. Regular thorough checkups can catch problems early, so they can be addressed before they cause serious problems.

Also, get to know your cat's habits - how much water she drinks, how much she eats, stool/urine output, etc., and get to the vet if you notice any changes, even if they seem small. Macumba's kidney failure was diagnosed at a very early stage because I took her to the vet when I noticed she was drinking more than usual - a very small but very important change. An older cat also doesn't have the strength reserves of a younger cat - if you notice a problem, it's very important to get to the vet ASAP, because a senior kitty with an untreated health problem can deteriorate quickly.

There are a lot of things you can do to make your cat comfortable in old age - the following links may help:

This book (click here) is great for info about caring for senior cats. I recommend it highly. The author hosted a senior cats forum here some time ago too, here:

Article: The Special Needs of the Senior Cat

Article: Caring for Geriatric Cats (click here)

Hope this helps

*edited to correct link that my cat helped type
post #5 of 11
No magic formulas here, either. My RB Old Lady Shasta was 21 when she decided she'd had enough. She was spayed at 6 months, and was indoor/outdoor all her life, though less interested in going out in the last year or so. She had no health problems. She was never overweight, and always had a good coat. The premium brands did not exist when she was a kitten, so she started on the regular supermarket brands and stayed on them. She was a mooch par excellence, and ate all kinds of human food that perhaps she should not have, with never a problem.

Maybe the formula is that every need we were ever aware of was met, she was taken seriously as a person and loved to bits. Other than that, there wasn't anything that we ever did, or did not do, deliberately.

Nibs and Gryphon, who came to us when they were 6, made it into their teens. Gryph died of cancer (at least that's what the vet thought, though they never found a mass) at thirteen and a half; Nibs was fifteen plus. They had similar beginnings to Shasta, and the same kind of life when they came here.

We've had one disappearance, and our feline family is now two four-year-olds and a six-year-old, who, for want of any reason to do differently, have a similar lifestyle to that of the earlier cats. If it ain't broke...

But all cats are different. So I don't think there's a magic bullet. You can only do your best.
post #6 of 11
I currently have a 17 yr old with kidney issues caught early .... she ate friskies and cat chow for the first 13 ish years of her life , I tried all of them I could find and that is what she ate... she has always gotten canned and freah meat cooked usually but she does like raw... I now give her wet cat , dog and homemade food to alleviate some stress on her kidneys( big thanks to many on here).. she runs around like a kitty or 4-5 ... I too think they live longer when they know you love them beoynd words....

Nikko was 19.5 when he died of kidney failure... I know he got alot of cooked food as well as whatever mom bought at the grocery store labelled cat food ... He travelled alot and was moms baby for 11 years till I came along...

Now in addition to Kandie I have Zoey... Zoey is getting the best food I can make and buy ... her lofe was vewry rough till I got her .. She is very loved I am hoping with my knowledge now shell see 20 plus
post #7 of 11
My 13 year old was fed Iams Kitten, Science Diet Adult, then later Purina CD for chronic UTI's.
He was neutered, strictly indoors, had twice yearly checkups and all shots up to date.
4 Months before his 13th birthday he was diagnosed with a rather fast moving cancer and was pts two days after his birthday.

The Siamese I grew up with was intact (until 17 years old), indoor/outdoor, spat out litter after litter of kittens, went to the vet yearly, or if she seemed out of sorts, was kept up to date on all shots, and fed Purina cat chow exclusively and was 19 when she was pts.
She was, even at 19, healthy for her age, she died basically of complications due to old age.

A friend recently lost his 23 year old, strictly outdoor cat.
She was fed the cheapest food and after initial shots, never saw a vet unless she was sick.
She was spayed.

Currently all my cats get Nutro Natural Indoor, are all spayed/neutered,strictly indoors, go to the vet whenever needed and all shots up to date.
My oldest currently is 11.
post #8 of 11
I have never lost a cat (knock on wood thank God), but I did have a close call this year with my oldest (he's 14). I think keeping them indoors and noticing changes in their eating habits, grooming habits, and just generally the look in their eyes if they are sick, and getting them promptly to a vet you can trust is the key.

Also warn children to be gentle around older cats!!!! The older a cat is, the less agile they are and they lose muscle mass. My daughter is forbidden to pick up Snickers because he's lost muscle mass as he's aged. She's been warned to be gentle with all the cats in general but she's not allowed to pick him up.

Kids can be really, really hurtful to cats, especially older ones who are bony or fragile.

I guess the real key to extending life as long as possible is making sure the cats are eating right, taking the right meds if they are sick, and giving them lots of love!!!
post #9 of 11
My Fred is 17, and he was my first cat. I had no idea that you could not treat cats like dogs, or that they should be neutered and kept indoors for a long and healthy life. He was not neutered until he was 5 or 6, and spent much of his life as an indoor/outdoor cat. He has always eaten grocery store food, except when I tried premium foods that gave him gas. He goes to the vet as needed, and has never had his teeth cleaned. Now that I know more about cats, he does not care, he still wants to go outside and eat people food, which he does sometimes. He does not want to go out as often, sleeps more and does not play as much, but he still has a quality of life as can be expected for such an old fellow. We have almost given up on him several times, and have even made the appointment to have him put down, but he has snapped back. He is FIV+, but we do not know how long he has been. The vet says at this point, he will live as long as he would have anyway, and is amazed that the old guy is still kickin'. Fred is still very much my alpha kitty, and keeps the others in line with a swipe of the paw. He is so old and raggedy, but he's still my baby, and every day I still have him is a gift.
post #10 of 11
My Candy (who lives at my parents) will be 19 in a month. She was spayed when she was a kitten and has lived her life as an inside/outside cat. She never strays very far from the house, even when she was small she would always be in the garden.

She has been fed a diet of mainly wet food and dry food, I think my mum has used Science Diet for the past 10 years, and she has done pretty well on it. However, atm she is fussy with her food so mum cooks her fish and chicken which she will quite happily eat.

The only health problems she has had is having her teeth removed - I think shes had 3 removed now mainly due to old age. She also has a heart murmer but this has thus far affected her quality of life in anyway.

Apart from being really skinny now, she still looks pretty and has a really shiny, fluffy coat. She is a grand old lady and I would say she has had a pretty good life.


post #11 of 11
My Tess was age 22 at her passing.
She was VERY healthy until age 17, eating meow mix only and rarely getting annual shots. She was indoor only after age 10.

At 17, symptoms for hyperthyroidism appeared, and she was treated daily with meds. At age 19, two years after the thyroid problem, she started needing IV fluid once a week because her kidneys werent great. We could do that at home.

No discernable reason why she lived so long. It is much more telling, IMO, that she was so healthy till age 17, vs how treatment extended her life.

I think she lived so long because she acted like a total kitten till she was age 7 (we laugh that cat food says age 7+ is senior ), and that she was spoiled rotten!

I think it was all luck and genes actually.
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