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The Elderly Cat:

  • Cats age well, with great dignity.
  • Most cats remain remarkably fit until the last few months of their lives.
  • Tom cats that are not neutered generally live two years less that tom cats that are neutered.
  • Neutering does not change the longevity of female cats.
  • 14 years is a good age for a cat; few will live beyond 16-17 years.
  • But there are examples of cats living to 18, 20, or even 25 years.
  • Cats normally sleep 18 hours a day, but they sleep more as they get older.
  • Cats will become less active in general as they age, and may need their claws clipped.
  • An elderly cat's walk may become stiffer and its coat less lustrous.
  • But it will still enjoy life, especially a good snooze in the sun.
  • An elderly cat may need to have its teeth cleaned more than a younger cat. Pay attention to the cat's teeth and make sure tartar doesn't build up and that the gums are healthy.
  • Ask the vet if you should give your elderly cat special food.
  • Often elderly cats will experience some type of kidney failure.
  • The (necessary) high-protein diet of the cat puts stress on the kidneys.
  • An elderly cat with partial kidney failure may respond to treatment and a modification of diet.
  • Two signs of kidney failure are weight loss and drinking more water.
  • Despite these problems, the elderly cat can continue to live with a good quality of life, being a source of love and companionship for its people.

Source: Understanding Cats -- Their History, Nature and Behavior, by Roger Tabor, The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY, 1995, pp. 128-129.