How active should a senior cat be?

Cats don’t stay kittens forever.

And as they begin to age, necessary adjustments are needed in order for us to help them carry on leading happy and healthy lives.

Cats are generally considered senior when they turn 7 years old. Although some vets consider this marker to be closer to 11.

The fact is, no two cats are the same, and so age-related physical signs can actually begin to occur at completely different stages of a cat’s life.

Signs your feline friend is starting to “get on in years” include loss of appetite and behavioral changes.

Their immune system also begins to weaken, leading to the possibility of increased bouts of  illness, along with a raft of age-associated disorders.

Another big indicator is their activity levels.

Older cats tend to be less playful. They don’t hunt as much, spend less time outside, and sleep for longer periods.

Senior cats, naturally, aren’t going to be as lively or as energetic as their younger counterparts.

But we still need to make sure they’re getting as much exercise as their body’s will allow.

Exercise for senior cats is essential when it comes to keeping their bodies and brains fighting fit, as well as keeping their weight under control.

Ailing health can make things tricky, but you should try and schedule at least one play/exercise session every day, keeping it gentle and for no longer than 15 minutes.

Don’t always chalk up a drop in activity levels to old age either. Behavioral changes can be down to injury or illness, and if you believe this could be the case, they should be investigated thoroughly by a vet.

How to prompt your senior cat to exercise

  • Encourage play with their favorite toy. Regular play sessions are a fantastic way of keeping cats active, not to mention mentally stimulated. If your feline has a favorite toy, use this to try and whip up interest in playtime. Remember though, cats can become tired of playing with the same things over and over again. Keep it interesting by introducing new toys, while also alternating the types of games you play with them.
  • Use healthy treats (sparingly). We tend to feed our cats treats when they’ve done something good. After all, positive reinforcement helps form positive behaviors. Healthy snacks can also be used to encourage exercise. Playing games like ‘hide and seek’ using treats is a fun way of motivating cats to earn their reward. Treat-release games are also an enjoyable, and stimulating, form of entertainment for felines.
  • Learn what they love… and keep doing that! Cats love their routines. If there’s something in particular your feline loves doing, and it happens to keep them active, then encourage it as often as possible. It may be that they love playing with a certain toy, or enjoy running around a certain part of the garden. The happier your cat is, the healthier they’ll be.
  • Create a cat obstacle course. What better way to encourage your senior feline to exercise than with a fun obstacle course? Now, the older your cat is, or the more prone to injury they are, the simpler you’ll want to keep things. A few weaving poles and a jump hoop should do the trick to begin with, and you can then add in further sections if and when you think they’re up to it. Use toys or treats to entice them if they’re initially wary; under no circumstances ever force them to participate.
  • Transform the environment. There’s plenty of other things you can do around the house, aside from create obstacle courses, that may invigorate an idle feline. Try placing their litter box on a table or window sill, while fully aware of your aging cat’s abilities and limitations. You could do the same with their food bowls, making them work that little bit harder for mealtime. Leaving bits of food around the house is another way of enticing them to exercise a little. Always make sure your cat is able to reach their food.
  • Don’t leave your cat to entertain themselves. Cats are generally very good at keeping themselves busy. If they’re not venturing outside to explore, they’ll happily spend their time playing with toys or jumping all over your furniture. This doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy company though, especially older cats who are at risk of becoming even more lethargic the longer they’re left alone. Felines benefit hugely from pet parent interaction – as do we – so be sure you plan in plenty of quality one-on-one time.
  • Don’t overdo it. Exercise should get the blood pumping, but the last thing we want to do is push an aging cat too far. Sessions should be about stimulation, not tiring them out to the point they can’t move. Keep sessions short and sweet, and keep an eye on how they are reacting. If they’re out of breath, or struggling to move, take things slower, or stop completely.

Don’t forget their diet

Nutrition plays a hugely important role in keeping our senior cats healthy and active.

The wrong diet can leave a feline feeling sluggish and lethargic. Worse than that it can lead to a weakened immune system, to illness, to severe physical complications.

To avoid this, we need to be feeding them meals packed with high-quality ingredients and body-boosting nutrients.

As cats grow older, it’s not uncommon for some to lose their appetite, a factor that in itself will inevitably cause a drop in energy levels.

This is why mealtimes, as well as being nourishing, also need to be appealing, appetizing and easy to digest.

Reveal’s wet food selections, which we recommend serving alongside dry kibble as part of a complete and well-balanced diet, tick all these boxes.

The following Reveal recipes – Tuna with Crab in Broth Can, Sardine with Mackerel in Broth Pot and Chicken Breast with Cheese in Broth Can –  are all made with real protein, contain no artificial flavors or additives, and are incredibly tasty; while the high moisture content makes them even more palatable.

No pet diet would be complete without treats, but if you are dishing out the occasional reward, only serve up healthy ones.

Reveal’s Whole Tuna Loin treats are just that. 100% tuna, 100% natural, 100% delicious. A Tuna Loin trail around the house will have your senior feline up and about in no time at all.

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