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Cats don't age as dramatically as dogs. But they do age. Somewhere around the age of ten- to seventeen-years-old, you'll notice your "senior kitty-zen" slowing down. You'll notice their joints stiffening, their appetite shrinking. You'll notice your older cat rejecting the food they have always loved, even tuna!
If you have an indoor cat, you'll probably find that your cat is living longer than their outdoor counterparts. Indoor cats live 2.5 times longer than outdoor cats, and cats who divide their time between the indoors and outdoors. This is partly because indoor cats don't come across poisonous plants, poisons left for rats, infections caught from other cats, arguments with other cats, dogs, and the dangers of our roads.
Elderly cats and eating
Cat owners (or slaves, to put across the cat's viewpoint), frequently worry that their cat doesn't seem to eat what we offer. We become worried when our cat refuses to eat anything we provide for several days. Older cats appear to be frequently fussy, walking away from the teeming bowl without even eating one bite.
But is it fussiness?
There are many possible causes of anorexia (lack of appetite) in cats.
Our first little piece of advice is (if your cat has been refusing to each everything all day) to offer your cat something you know they'd always choose to eat. A small portion of tuna in spring water or a little freshly-cooked chicken are favourites. If your cat eats it, they're probably just being a little fussy that day. However, if they reject their favourite treat, you might be looking at a more serious problem.
If your cat hasn't eaten for three days or more, see a vet. See a vet immediately if your cat isn't drinking, has diarrhoea, vomiting, weakness, lethargy, or is showing any sign of pain (yowling, crying, wincing).
The Diet of the Older Cat
If your older cat has been eating only dry food, your first step if they refuse to eat (without other symptoms) is to offer a wet-food diet. Older cats need a diet that's easy to eat, and often thrive on a diet that's high in meat and natural fat. That's more easily found in wet-food. Wet-food is also particularly important to stave off dehydration and kidney disease (which can cause or exacerbate eating issues). Always go for a wet-food with a high meat or fish content.
Older people suffer from acid reflux. So do older cats. You might notice this if your cat is having thin, acidic vomiting in the morning. There are two very simple remedies for this problem. First, have some cat-grass in an accessible place (a windowsill is ideal). This will give your cat something to nibble when she feels sick. Secondly (and this is the best thing you can do) raise her bowls to chest level, so she doesn't have to bend down so far when she eats. This will prevent acids rising up her throat.
If you are still worried, see a vet. The vet can prescribe an antacid. Never give your cat medication without veterinary supervision.