Does My Senior Cat Hate Me?
As your cat gets older, you may notice your once snuggly, loving friend becoming a bit more reclusive. Sometimes you may find yourself wonder, "Does my cat hate me?" While behavioural changes are a normal part of ageing, it can be challenging to find ways to reinforce your bond with your cat, and ultimately, determine the proper ways to care for them.
We’ve asked an expert to share some tips on how to bond with your senior cat and behaviours to look out for.
Changes in Your Cat’s Behaviour
In a similar manner to people, cats will become less active and more sedate as they age, said Katie Watts, a senior feline behaviour counsellor. Changes in their behaviour can be caused by medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, arthritis and dental disease, or cognitive diseases like dementia. Common symptoms of these conditions can include irritability, discomfort and limited mobility, while cats suffering from dementia may wander around and meow more frequently.
Even if your senior cat is perfectly healthy, you’ll likely notice a decrease in their activity level, which is normal part of the ageing process.
“While some cats stay active at 15, 16 and 17, most won’t want to play as much anymore,” Watts says. “As long as they’re still able to move around okay, it’s not something to worry about.”
Fortunately, there are ways for you to spend time with, and connect to, your cat.
Caring for, and Bonding with, Your Senior Cat
Although it can be challenging to manage changes in your cat’s behaviour, Watts suggests experimenting with different activities to see what makes them happy, from spending some time on the couch together to a good quality grooming session every now and again. And if food is the only thing that motivates them, try hand feeding in lieu of giving too many cat treats.
“You want to spend some quality time with your cat to reinforce your bond with them and show you’re something they will want to be around,” Watts says. “Adjust your behaviour to your cat’s to accommodate them.”
Any sudden changes in your cat’s normal behaviour should be checked out right away, she says. While some cats may be a little bit more dramatic in their behaviour by meowing, swatting or trying to bite, others may be less vocal and will show discomfort in changing their eating habits or cat litter box behaviour. Take note of these changes and investigate it right away by taking them to a veterinary professional.
“We see a lot of adopters who start to see behaviour changes that they don’t think could be medically related, but behaviour is one of the first things to be a symptom of an underlying medical condition,” Watts says. She recommends taking senior cats to the vet every six months rather than once a year and to bring them to a vet immediately if you notice any sudden, unexplained changes in behaviour.