I don’t know about you, but as each of my cats age I start dreading the time when I have to make the decision to say goodbye.
If you’re lucky to be a parent to a senior cat you’ll have watched him change from being healthy and active, to a cat that moves less, eats less, loses his eyesight and hearing, and can no longer reach the parts he used to groom – much the same as us! Elderly cats can also suffer from a variety of age-related issues such as osteoarthritis, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease.
All of these conditions are slow and progressive which makes it very difficult for you to know when and how much pain or discomfort your cat is feeling, especially when cats have a tendency to suffer in silence. In addition, your feline senior citizen might have less control over his bladder leading to ‘accidents’ outside his tray. And apart from the physical side of things he might also develop cognitive changes, becoming more confused and seeking you out for comfort,
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As cats age their world shrinks. They might confine themselves to one room where they feel safest and where all their resources are within easy reach. I knew a cat whose world consisted of a chair surrounded by her litter tray, scratcher, and food and water.
Knowing when to say goodbye to your cat isn’t easy. Having an understanding of an elderly cat’s needs and keeping a close eye on his quality of life is of the utmost importance. As is taking your cat for senior cat veterinary check-ups, at least twice-yearly. Your vet will help inform you about your cat’s physical condition and needs, and discuss options with you. Vets are very good at guiding you in your decision.
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None of us want our cats to leave us but it’s so important that we keep in mind their quality of life and do what’s best to keep them from suffering. My elderly cat Jack had kidney disease and ultimately the only way to keep him going would have been for him to spend days at a time receiving fluid therapy at the vets. So, I asked the vet to give him some fluids, waited until he was feeling better, then asked the vet to send him to sleep as he was purring in my arms. It made me feel happy that I’d ended his life at a time when he was feeling comfortable, and I knew he would have thanked me for it.
<img decoding="async" class="lazyload" src="https://static.wixstatic.com/media/68d24d_7d948e68aebb4546a0b065b2606a6c36~mv2.png/v1/fit/w_768,h_836,al_c,q_80/file.png" alt="old cat lying on a duvet" style="width:445px;height:auto" title="Jack"/>