Your cat has been your constant friend, always there with love and affection, or a cheeky paw boop to cheer you up. Now they’re getting older, they need more support from you.
90% of cats over 12 may need joint health support, so what are the signs, and how can you help them?
What age is a senior cat?
The rule of thumb is that any cat over the age of 7 is considered senior. This is certainly when you should consider putting them on a senior cat diet to support their long-term health. But most people don't think of their feline friend as old until they are at least 11.
Comparing cats to humans makes it easier to understand how old our cat is, but it's not as simple as the old "7 cat years per human year". Cats mature much faster than humans, and a 1-year-old cat is roughly equivalent to a 15-year-old human. Use this calculator to check how old your cat is in human years.
Get a senior cat health check
Your cat may seem perfectly healthy and just be mellowing with age—but we owe it to our feline friends to keep them fit and healthy. Regular check-ups with your vet are the best way to understand what they need.
What can I expect at a senior health check?
Regular check-ups with your vet will keep you in the know about your cat's overall health. It might flag up potential health problems in the future or help you support your cat's current health.
Your senior cat health check may cover...
- A history to understand their past and how it may impact them now
- A blood test to check their current condition and organ function
- A urine test to check kidney and urinary health
- Sight tests
- Joint health checks
- Dental checks
- Heart health checks
- Lumps and bumps check-up
- Weight check - always tell your vet if you notice any weight loss or rapid weight gain
Many cat owners think that their cat slowing down is just a normal part of the ageing process, but it is often a sign that your cat has joint stiffness.
Speak to your vet at your health check if you are worried about your cat's mobility—they will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
Signs your senior cat needs a joint supplement
As cats age, joint stiffness can impact their quality of life, so it's important that you take steps to keep them active. A high-quality joint supplement supports joint health and normal mobility, which is vital to maintaining your cat's active, healthy lifestyle.
What are the common signs that your cat needs a joint supplement?
Not jumping up
It's annoying when your cat pops up onto the kitchen worktop or balances along the edge when you're in the bath. But if you've noticed your cat has stopped doing these things, it's not that they've suddenly decided to behave and obey the rules; it's more likely that they're finding it tricky. Jumping up and down puts a lot of strain on joints and can be difficult for an older cat.
Not using the litter tray
This is important to pick up on. If your cat is suddenly having accidents, is missing the litter tray or has stopped using it completely, get them checked out by a vet. Commonly, struggling to use the litter tray is a sign that your cat needs joint support, as getting into the right position is becoming harder.
However, this toileting behaviour change can also be a sign of much more serious health problems, such as a urinary tract infection, idiopathic cystitis, or worse, a urinary tract blockage caused by bladder stones. This is a medical emergency, so please get them checked out.
"My cat has started walking funny" is a common complaint at the vets. If your cat is finding things more difficult with one particular leg, they might protect it by walking differently to use the other legs more. They might move a leg more slowly or flick the limb. Signs can be very subtle as cats are the masters at hiding when they are struggling, so keep your eye on even the smallest changes to your cat's movements.
We all know our cats love to snooze—and who could blame them? Everyone loves a cat nap. But did you know that cats sometimes fake it? Stressed or uncomfortable cats can pretend to be asleep but remain alert. A case of "if I can't see you, you can't see me". So you may notice your cat appearing to sleep more or actually sleeping more.
On the flip side, cats who can't get comfortable may sleep less or sleep in unusual places to get comfy.
Cats can change their mood at the flick of a switch! They can go from snuggly strokes to "go away I've had enough" in the merest swish of a tail. If this grumpy behaviour becomes more common, they may be trying to tell you something—they may need extra help with their joint mobility.
Keeping your fur in tip-top condition is a big job! Reaching around to groom their back, legs or tail and keeping their behind clean can become too difficult. If you notice your cat is letting themselves go, consider adding a joint supplement to their self-care routine!
Joint supplement support
Joint supplements (sometimes called nutraceuticals) help support your cat's normal joint health and mobility—supporting joint comfort and a normal inflammatory response.
Many cat joint supplements are available, and choosing the right one can be confusing.
You should look for a supplement with high-quality ingredients, including omega-3 fatty acids and essential amino acids.
Don't settle for anything less than a supplement that is clinically proven to support mobility and joint health.