Tips to Help Aging Cat

zoes

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Hi folks! My oldest cat is starting that "old cat decline." She is still bright and active but has lost some weight (and was fairly slim to begin with) and looks like she might be starting to have some sore hips, and gets mats more often than she used to. I want to support her aging but I don't want to fight the clock, either. I have a vet checkup scheduled for her next month and I'm just looking to arm myself with some tips and any info so I don't fall into an anxiety spiral when the vet tells me what I already know but makes me feel like I need to do something "more" about it, and due to COVID this will be a phone conversation with the vet after the exam and then a wait for blood test results so I'm already anxious about it all.

This will be my first cat to get old and essentially die of old age in my care. I don't want to sound too dire, she's not dying now, but I know we're in that phase.

And to be clear, I am willing to take measures to ensure she ages as well as possible, but I adopted her 14 years ago and she was an adult at the time - I don't know how old, but she didn't have that "11 month old cat" look. So, at the absolute minimum, she is 15, but likely older. I can make sure she's comfortable but I can't stop the clock.

I have been giving her tri-acta joint supplement recently, and Omega 3 oils for a few years now. I also give her lysine to help with some mild upper resp/sneezies. She has been exclusively on wet and raw food for about a year, but I am beginning to give her kibble again as well to try to maintain her weight because she's not terribly keen on the wet food. I have also been increasing her play and activity to try to keep her muscle mass.

Her most recent vet visit was late last summer after eating a tiny bite of asiatic lily in the garden (leashed) and her blood tests came back great before, during and after the three-day treatment of IV fluids - no concerns at the time though she was slightly underweight, but the vet wasn't worried. Her kidney values were great but it's been 8 months so who knows.

I guess primarily what I'm asking for is any tips on what else I could/should do, supplements you recommend, what I might expect from my vet, and perhaps a drop of fortitude!

Thanks in advance for your support :)
 

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zoes

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Also, apologies. I put this under nutrition because I intended to ask mostly for supplement information though now I feel maybe it would be more appropriate as a health question!
 

KarenKat

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Sounds like a lot of love and care that she is getting. I’m sure others have better suggestions, but we haven’t had an older cat either. Out last guy passed early due to cancerz

Our kitty Gohan is about 10, but he has some mild arthritis in the base of his tail. We give him cosequin once per day in his food. Hard to say if it helps since he wasn’t demonstrating any evidence of pain, but we think he walks slightly less stiffly. It’s not too expensive, we get capsules off chewy. Might be worth a chat with the vet.
 
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zoes

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Sounds like a lot of love and care that she is getting. I’m sure others have better suggestions, but we haven’t had an older cat either. Out last guy passed early due to cancerz

Our kitty Gohan is about 10, but he has some mild arthritis in the base of his tail. We give him cosequin once per day in his food. Hard to say if it helps since he wasn’t demonstrating any evidence of pain, but we think he walks slightly less stiffly. It’s not too expensive, we get capsules off chewy. Might be worth a chat with the vet.
Sorry to hear about your kitty. It's really hard when they go too soon even when you couldn't have done anything about it. I have had two that passed before their time - one due to mega colon which we treated for years but eventually caught up to him - and another to an undiagnosed but acute liver disease. Part of me is glad to have one go of old age - not happy, exactly, but I guess nihilistically satisfied that she'll have lived a full, happy life.

Thank you for the recommendation! I'll look into it. I want to delay and avoid pain management medications for as long as possible (as in, narcotics and such.) When I got her, she had a broken leg, set with a pin that displaced itself, and her leg has since always been at a slightly odd angle (you wouldn't notice unless you looked for it). Although the injury healed, I wouldn't be surprised if that's aggravating things now. I cracked my hip about 20 years ago and feel the effects and I'm not a senior yet!
 
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FeebysOwner

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Hi. Very pretty kitty! What is her name? Feeby is 16+ yo - she found me nearly 15 years ago and the vet said she was 'around 2 yo". She, too, is my first cat to actually reach what I call 'geriatric age'. Tawny (15) died of FIP, and Gracie (12) passed away from cancer.

Feeby has some arthritis - and two nearly-fused vertebrae from an unknown cause. I give her Glyco Flex Plus (glucosamine, chondroitin, green lipped mussels) to help her mobility. She was limping after napping/etc. but has pretty much stopped doing that since she has been on Glyco - for about 2 years now. I also have added interim steps so that she has easier access to perches/couches/windows that she once could jump up to/down from without any issue. I use footstools as they are bit bigger than regular cat steps, and she seems to feel more secure using them. She uses them religiously.

I am sure your vet checked for hyperthyroidism before, but make sure she is checked for that again. Losing weight/muscle mass, hair matting are all signs of H-T - even though they can also be signs of typically aging. Feeby was diagnosed last October. The hair matting could also be related to your girl's arthritis, as they have a tougher time 'getting to all the right places' for grooming.
 
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zoes

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Feeby has some arthritis - and two nearly-fused vertebrae from an unknown cause. I give her Glyco Flex Plus (glucosamine, chondroitin, green lipped mussels) to help her mobility. She was limping after napping/etc. but has pretty much stopped doing that since she has been on Glyco - for about 2 years now. I also have added interim steps so that she has easier access to perches/couches/windows that she once could jump up to/down from without any issue. I use footstools as they are bit bigger than regular cat steps, and she seems to feel more secure using them. She uses them religiously.

I am sure your vet checked for hyperthyroidism before, but make sure she is checked for that again. Losing weight/muscle mass, hair matting are all signs of H-T - even though they can also be signs of typically aging. Feeby was diagnosed last October. The hair matting could also be related to your girl's arthritis, as they have a tougher time 'getting to all the right places' for grooming.
Thanks! Her name is Noni.

It's funny, my cats have been "geriatric" in the vet's eyes since they were 8 years old! It's been about as long as that since both my older girls were branded as such. Thankfully the other one (in my profile pic) is not showing any signs of aging yet - people still ask me if she's a kitten (partly because she is only about 7lbs.)

I've been hearing about green lipped mussel supplements lately, and have been meaning to look more into that.

I have steps and stools around too but she doesn't use them. She can still get on the (fairly high up) bed from the floor, though I can see her hindquarters are a little weak when she jumps and kind of have to "catch up" to her front. But it's not a huge struggle, so I imagine it won't occur to her to use the stool until she can't jump up easily anymore.

Good call on the HT - it had not occurred to me. I'm sure it's been tested for with her routine blood tests, but I will mention it to the vet. She has the physical/appearance symptoms not the others, but I do think a lot of the classic signs of cat aging can be attributed to actual, diagnosable, treatable issues that just tend to occur in old age, so that could easily be an important consideration here and looks to be moderatly treatable. It's odd to "hope" it's HT, but it would be preferable to CKD which is what I am expecting to hear.

Thank you so much for the suggestions. Much appreciated.
 
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zoes

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Thanks, he was a sweet but addlebrained kitty.

And Cosequin is more of a joint supplement, similar to FeebysOwner FeebysOwner ’s Glyco. It has glucosamine, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate and Manganese.
Yes :) I prefer nutritional supplements, I meant, over pain management (so long as the supplements work, of course.)

Good to know - the supplement I give her currently has similar ingredients, less the manganese but with Hyaluronic Acid and Methylsulfonylmethane. Hard to know which is best though they seem to all be similar - I just got the one the woman at the store recommended most highly.
 

FeebysOwner

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It's funny, my cats have been "geriatric" in the vet's eyes since they were 8 years old!
My vet called Feeby a 'senior' around 9-10 and then it graduated to 'geriatric' after she hit the 14 yo mark!
I have steps and stools around too but she doesn't use them. She can still get on the (fairly high up) bed from the floor, though I can see her hindquarters are a little weak when she jumps and kind of have to "catch up" to her front. But it's not a huge struggle, so I imagine it won't occur to her to use the stool until she can't jump up easily anymore.
I just noticed some changes in how Feeby was landing after jumping - so, I started placing the footstools in strategic locations and would pat my hand on them to show her they were there - once she figured out what I was trying to show her, she started using them. She still jumps up/down in locations that don't have the step stools, but she first looks around to see if one is nearby and if so, she will go out of her way to use the closest footstool - most of the time anyway!
It's odd to "hope" it's HT, but it would be preferable to CKD which is what I am expecting to hear.
Either way, there are treatments for both to help keep Noni healthy for a lot longer. But, do be aware H-T, before treatment, can mask kidney issues. Now that Feeby is on H-T meds, we are closely monitoring her kidney function.
 

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The omega-3 supplements you have been giving? Are they animal or plant-based? If you've been giving plant-based, e.g. flaxseed oil, you have been wasting your money this whole time. Cats don't have the enzymes, or not in a meaningful amount, to convert the plant-based omega-3's to the animal form their bodies use. I would go with salmon oil as it seems to be the most potent form. Or maybe that's just the Grizzly brand's formulations where salmon oil is the strongest and pollock and krill oil are not as concentrated.

You may also want to consider CBD while she's not currently taking any other medicines. CBD is quite safe on its own. But it does prolong the metabolism and elimination of other drugs when taken with other drugs.

Another thing you may want to consider is meat stock (like bone broth but not cooked for so long.) If you follow along with this video, the strained liquid from stage 1 is the meat stock. This has plenty of the good stuff of bone broth including gelatin and collagens. But it has a lower level of glutamates which can be problematic for some cats (and people too!) e.g. MSG headaches. In a nutshell, start with meaty bones (most of the meat cut away but leave a little for flavor) and cook them in a crock pot/slow cooker with just enough water to cover for 12 to 18 hours. (Or about an hour if you use an Instant Pot/pressure cooker.) Strain and retain the liquid. You can offer the cooked meat as a treat. The strained liquid should be portioned to small containers--ideally just enough for your cat to consume before it spoils (two or three days.) Baby food jars are a good size here. Your first container can go straight into the fridge. It should set like meat jello. For the subsequent containers which will be frozen until needed, you'll bring one back to liquid state in a double boiler on your stove (or if you used a jar, drop the jar into a pot of water and slowly heat.) Put the jar of liquid meat stock back into the fridge for it to setup like jello again. You can serve her spoonfuls of this jello as a joint and gut supplement and a treat either straight from the fridge or added to her food. I made the mistake of leaving too much meat on the bones one time and my Krista got a terrible clostridium infection from an undercooked turkey drumstick. Liquid poops for a month! More metronidazole and saccharomyces boulardii than one cat should ever have to consume. Cut away almost all the meat. You can leave a little for flavor, but it's really the joints you're after (and why cooking the bones to shreds is not needed.) Make sure what little meat you leave will be fully cooked before straining and retaining that liquid.

Bone Broth Is Excellent Nourishment for Older Pets

Meat stock is the strained and retained liquid before the second stage in this document.
https://mercola.fileburst.com/PDF/HealthyPets/DrBecker-BoneBroth.pdf
 
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zoes

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Thanks! That is all very helpful!

The omeg-3s are fish-based, though I didn't know that about the plant-based oils. Noted!

I'll ask my vet about the CBD. I like that idea a lot as an alternative to harsher pain management since I honestly don't think she's in much pain anyway.

I have made bone broth before so I will do that again, and I water their food down anyway so this will be an easy addition. I wasn't sure about bone broth as you hear about the minerals in bones causing issues. Phosphorous, I guess.

Poor Krista! Glad she is ok now - sounds like a terrible infection.

Quick question about the turkey leg, was it still uncooked when it came out, or was the problem that it was already off when it went in raw? I can buy broth bones for this purpose since I don't eat much meat myself, I'm just wondering how much I should worry about trimming off excess meat if I'm planning to cook it for a couple hours in a pressure cooker.
 

daftcat75

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Thanks! That is all very helpful!

The omeg-3s are fish-based, though I didn't know that about the plant-based oils. Noted!

I'll ask my vet about the CBD. I like that idea a lot as an alternative to harsher pain management since I honestly don't think she's in much pain anyway.

I have made bone broth before so I will do that again, and I water their food down anyway so this will be an easy addition. I wasn't sure about bone broth as you hear about the minerals in bones causing issues. Phosphorous, I guess.

Poor Krista! Glad she is ok now - sounds like a terrible infection.

Quick question about the turkey leg, was it still uncooked when it came out, or was the problem that it was already off when it went in raw? I can buy broth bones for this purpose since I don't eat much meat myself, I'm just wondering how much I should worry about trimming off excess meat if I'm planning to cook it for a couple hours in a pressure cooker.
Even though CBD is now federally legal, vets are still hesitant to discuss it. You may be on your own with CBD. But do bring it up with your vet anyway. If she is prescribed something in the future, you'll want to discuss whether it's safe to give along side CBD or whether to discontinue the CBD.

I put the whole uncooked turkey leg in with other meaty bones. I suspect it did not cook all the way through. I know from the PCR test performed on Krista's poop that she had a clostridium infection. From my reading, I have heard that slow cookers are a wonderful breeding ground for clostridium if you don't cook the meat all the way through. I think pressure cookers are safer because of the pressure. But I'm not sure on that.
 

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Making Meat Stock. In Pictures!

Meaty bones. Mostly bones and not so much meat. Krista preferred thigh meat for making her raw food. Thighs are good for meat stock/bone broth. The good stuff is in the joints. Wings would also be good. Just enough water to cover. You are retaining the liquid so the less liquid you use, the more concentrated the meat stock/bone broth. I believe these are turkey thighs. I used a cleaver to break them up and put them in the Instant Pot.
IMG_3104.jpg

After an hour under pressure.
IMG_3105.jpg

Got the strainer ready.
IMG_3106.jpg

Strained and blue gel ice packs to start the cooling instead of putting steaming hot meat stock directly in the fridge.
IMG_3107 (1).JPG

This is a small container of stock and this is what it looks like when I say it should set up like jello.
IMG_3109.jpg IMG_3111.jpg

Plated.
IMG_3112.jpg

And enjoyed!
IMG_3113.jpg
 

Tobermory

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Lily and Iris will be 17 on Saturday (:party2:), and they have many of the issues of old age: arthritis, constipation, UTIs, compromised kidneys, etc. The Cosequin really helps the arthritis as does the fish oil. I also give them CBD. Iris’s arthritis is extremely bad, so she also gets gabapentin for pain relief.

Neither jumps much any more so I have three short cat trees (bushes?) which they enjoy, and I’ve put sturdy low containers by the bed so they can hop onto those, then to the bedside table, and then onto the bed. They use them to get down, too. It’s only in the past year that they’ve come to depend on them.

I elevate their food bowls so they don’t have to lean over or crouch down to eat.

They get only wet food, and I add even more water when I feed them. I really try to keep an eye on how much they’re eating. I’ve had elderly kitties in the past who lost a lot of weight, and I didn’t realize it as soon as I should have. It can happen so gradually that you don’t notice. I weigh all three cats weekly.

For the constipation, they get a small amount Miralax daily in their food. And I add a probiotic to try to keep their gut healthy.

It’s so hard to watch our little friends age. But there are a number of things you can do to help make life more comfortable for them. It’s wonderful that you’re thinking ahead!
 
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zoes

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Happy birthday, Lily and Iris!

Thanks for all this! She has in fact always been afflicted by large poops, so I'll keep an eye on that as well. How much Miralax have you found to be the right amount? I have some from a megacolon cat, but by the end he was taking so much that I'm not sure what the right dose ought to be. Have you ever tried Smooth BM Gold cat supplement? It's not a laxative exactly - can't tell whether it's snake oil or not and at $50 a bottle it's a little expensive to experiment with (would gladly purchase it if I knew it worked, though.) I don't think she really needs a laxative (yet).

With regards to keeping weight on, were you able to do anything about it? From what I read, unless there is an underlying cause that can be identified and treated, there isn't a whole lot to be done about it. I would like her to eat more - She will eat more kibble than wet food, I think (I just started with the kibble so I haven't really noticed yet) but I do have some supplements I'd like to give her that mix into wet food much more easily than dry. Have you ever tried an appetite stimulant? My mother's cat recently passed away and I actually have some mirtazapine leftover from that. I don't want to medicate her for nothing (and obviously am concerned about giving her this without it being prescribed to her, but I know my vet won't be able to give me permission to do so and I couldn't get a vet appt before June 18), but I feel like a little boost to her appetite would be helpful. She's never been terribly food motivated even with dry food. She likes cheap canned food but she's allergic to it unfortunately.

I should get a scale. Currently I just feel her - her ribs and spine feel the same (underweight but not skeletal) but I can tell she's lost mass in her hindquarters. She loves to go outside on the leash and kind of walks with me, so I'll be doing that more. She seems to forget she's old when she's exploring, and now that it's warming up here I can take her out for adventures. Good fun, if nothing else.
 

FeebysOwner

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With regards to keeping weight on... From what I read, unless there is an underlying cause that can be identified and treated, there isn't a whole lot to be done about it. I would like her to eat more - She will eat more kibble than wet food, I think (I just started with the kibble so I haven't really noticed yet) but I do have some supplements I'd like to give her that mix into wet food much more easily than dry. Have you ever tried an appetite stimulant? My mother's cat recently passed away and I actually have some mirtazapine leftover from that. I don't want to medicate her for nothing (and obviously am concerned about giving her this without it being prescribed to her, but I know my vet won't be able to give me permission to do so and I couldn't get a vet appt before June 18), but I feel like a little boost to her appetite would be helpful. She's never been terribly food motivated even with dry food. She likes cheap canned food but she's allergic to it unfortunately.
Personally speaking, I would never try something like a prescribed appetite stimulant without consulting with your vet, especially under Noni's situation. The one supplement that was recommended to me to help with Feeby's appetite was Forti Flora, which is a probiotic - and, when reading all the articles/reviews, it was the only one that specifically mentioned acting as an appetite enticer. I haven't yet tried it, but if I continue to have issues with Feeby's eating (which seems to come and go), I will be getting it. Whatever wet food you do give Noni could be the way to administer this particular product, just to see if it does in fact help any. It is a powder and could also be added to any lickable treat or tuna water or anything similar - in a small amount - just to get her to take it.
 

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How much Miralax have you found to be the right amount?
It depends! Currently I’m giving them less than 1/8 tsp. twice a day in their food. So a total of less than 1/4 tsp. daily. My goal is to keep their poop firm but with enough give that they don’t have to strain too much to evacuate their bowels. The things we talk about. :lol: And along those lines, periodically I “test” it. I scoop into paper lunch bags, and I’ll squeeze the poop a bit through the bag to make sure it isn’t too hard. If it seems to be getting hard or I see them straining too much, I’ll increase the amount of Miralax…although not by much. I’ve never tried Smooth BM Gold.

I agree with FeebysOwner FeebysOwner : I wouldn’t give the mirtazapine unless I had a conversation with the vet. There are many ways you can try to entice Noni to eat. FortiFlora is really appealing to many cats. I’m using it right now with Lily. She’s gone off the chicken I’m feeding, so I’ve started mixing FortiFlora into her food. It doesn’t even take the whole packet. But there are a variety of toppers you can try.

I bought the scale after I realized how much weight my Max had lost without me noticing. I’m terrible at judging weight, and the scale is a big help!
 
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zoes

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Thank you!

Strange question - what does the fortiflora smell like? My mom gave me her leftovers and she called it that, but it smelled so much like garlic or powdered soup mix to me that I threw it away, scared she gave me the wrong jar of powder. Now I'm wondering...
 

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Since my cat had arthritis there are special litter boxes for cats with arthritis. The step in is low. I think mine were by pet fusion. Or buy a storage bin and cut a hole,5 inches I think. That was 4 yrs ago so don't totally remember
 
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