Why senior cats need special handling

“A retrospective study revealed that 22 percent of cats over 1 year old and 90 percent of cats over 12 years old had radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease.”

This is why I use plenty of towels when I groom a senior cat.  They rest on soft surfaces. If they’re not heavy, I even support their body while bathing them. The little things count.


Parent with dementia? Sad, but they can be a danger to cats.

In the paper today, a man with dementia put stain remover into coffee instead of sugar. He died. His wife will recover. Obviously not his fault. He’s mentally ill.  We hate to think of senile/dementia/Alzheimers parents and grandparents as being dangerous. They’re lucid sometimes, right? It’s not like they’re drooling and yelling, right? They wouldn’t hurt anyone, right?

Wrong. Leaving a cat or a dog in the hands of a senile parent, even if they’re often lucid, is wrong. You’re putting the animal in harm’s way. What if the parent tries to lovingly give the cat’s a bath, but uses ammonia instead of water? It’s happened.

Yes, but what if the parent loves the animal and would miss her if she were taken away? That’s heart breaking. Maybe offer to keep the pet and bring her on each visit, or if there is a nurse, have the nurse become the cat’s care taker, if the nurse doesn’t mind. Pay the nurse a little more to help out with the cat.

Do you want to visit your mother’s house and find the cat writhing in pain because she’s eaten poison?

It’s a sad situation, but we can’t let mentally ill people be in charge of defenseless creatures.

Should you get your elderly parent or grandparent a cat?

Think long and hard before getting a cat for a senior citizen.

I’ve seen some rough situations with senior citizens and cats. Even though it can be a beautiful relationship, there’s potential for awful abuse of the cat.

A mean young person is only going to get meaner when they grow old. A terrific young person can turn evil if dementia attacks their brain. Eye sight and hearing can go, which means the owner won’t even see how ravaged their cat looks. They can forget to feed the cat and forget to provide water. They can scare off groomers and pet sitters by being irritable and irrational.

Bad things that can happen to a cat:

  1. Claws growing into the paw pad so deeply that the paws bleed. A senior citizen owner became enraged when I told her the claws had to be trimmed.
  2. Cats with mats covering their body.
  3. Filthy litter boxes.
  4. Cats so fat that they can hardly move.
  5. Cat owners who are on sedatives, so they can barely talk, let alone care for an animal.
  6. Cat owners who repetitively scream out their cat’s name (due to owner’s loss of hearing), then complain that their cat doesn’t cuddle with them.
  7. Temper.  Some old people are very, very angry. They may not get many visitors other than the maid, so no one will know if they take out their frustration on their cat. Some old people scream at their husband and the house keeper, creating a scary home for everyone.
  8. Some old people hate to spend money. They remember when you could buy much more with just a few dollars. This can make them hesitate to take the cat to a vet or deal with urgent grooming problems.

Look, it’s great if a cat helps a senior citizen enjoy life more, but do you really want to be the reason some timid former-street-cat gets abused? That’s not rescuing a cat. That’s putting a cat in harm’s way.

Make no mistake about it, being starved of food and water, being neglected so that litter piles up, having mats growing all over our body, or being screamed at is all abuse.

Yes, many senior citizens take good care of their cat. Just make 100% sure your elderly parent or grandparent is going to be one of them. A cat may be “just an animal” but they do have the ability to feel pain and fear. Personally, I’m not going to have a pet after the age of 70.  I’ve seen too many sad things.