How to Care for a Senior Ragdoll Cat

Caring for a Senior Ragdoll Cat

By Jennie @ Ragdoll Cats World

August 22, 2022

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As people age, so do their cats. Ragdoll cats are no different and require a bit more care as they enter their senior years. Here are some tips on how to take care of your elderly Ragdoll cat.

In order to have your geriatric Ragdoll cat live the full seventeen years of life or longer, you want to ensure that you’re monitoring their habits, behavior, nutrition, and appearance. This is because these are the places that will show disease before all others.

It’s important to take them to the vet regularly for checkups and preventive care. This will help catch any problems early and keep your cat as healthy as possible.

As our feline friends age, their nutritional needs change. While a kitten can get away with eating just about anything, an elderly cat needs a diet that will help them maintain their health and vitality. Here are some tips on how to care for your elderly cat and make sure they live a long and happy life.

 

What is the life expectancy of a Ragdoll cat?

Ragdoll cats have an average lifespan of 12 to 16 years. While this is a good amount of time, it’s important to note that Ragdolls can live much longer with the proper care. My first two Ragdolls, Choo-Choo and Huey lived to 17 and 18 years of age. The key to a long and healthy life for your Ragdoll is providing them with good nutrition, plenty of exercise, routine vet check-ups, and lots of love and attention. With good care, Ragdolls can easily become a part of the family for many years to come.

senior ragdoll cat
Huey aged 18

Common health problems faced by senior Ragdolls

There are some common health problems that elderly ragdoll cats face. These include arthritis, kidney disease, and heart disease. While there is no way to prevent these diseases, there are ways to help your cat manage them and live a long and healthy life.

Here are a few things to look out for in your aging Ragdoll cat.

Weight Loss

As our cats age, they may start to experience changes in their weight. One of the most prominent symptoms that first comes about with disease is a change in their body weight. If your elderly Ragdoll cat begins to lose weight, it is important to take them to the vet for a check-up.

There are many potential causes of weight loss in elderly cats, including cancer, organ disease, and digestive issues. Many of these conditions are serious and can be life-threatening. That’s why it’s so important to take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice any changes in their weight.

Your vet will likely perform a physical examination and some diagnostic tests, such as blood work and x-rays, to try to determine the cause of the weight loss.

Dehydration

As cats age, they can become less sensitive to the thirst drive, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration is a top health concern for senior cats and can lead to serious complications, such as kidney damage, if left untreated. To prevent dehydration in your senior cat, make sure it has access to fresh water at all times and offer it wet food, which will help it stay hydrated. You should also watch for signs of dehydration, such as lethargy, dry mouth, and sunken eyes. If you notice any of these signs, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately.

 

Sensitivity to Temperature

As cats age, they may become more sensitive to heat or cold. This is because aging decreases their ability to regulate their body temperature. If you have an elderly cat, it’s important to be aware of this and take steps to keep them comfortable.

One way to do this is to provide them with a warm bedding area. You can also move their food and water dishes to a warmer spot in the house. If your cat starts spending more time indoors, make sure they have access to a sunny window where they can soak up some heat.

In the summer months, keep an eye on your elderly cat for signs of heatstroke. These include panting, excessive thirst, lethargy, and vomiting. If you notice any of these signs, move your cat to a cool area and call your veterinarian immediately.

 

Deterioration of Sight and Hearing

As your cat ages, you may notice that their sight and hearing start to deteriorate. Be warned – a Ragdoll cat that is hard of hearing gets loud! This is normal and nothing to be worried about, but there are a few things you can do to help make their lives a little easier.

If your cat is having trouble seeing, try moving their food and water dishes to a place where they can easily see them. You may also want to consider getting them a set of toy balls or other toys that make noise so they can still enjoy playing even if they can’t see as well. You may also want to keep their litter box in the same place so they know where it is and don’t have to search for it.

If your cat is having trouble hearing, try speaking to them in a louder voice or clapping your hands to get their attention.

Talk to your veterinarian about any changes you notice in your cat’s behavior – they may be able to recommend medication or other treatments to help make your cat more comfortable. Any blindness or drastic changes should be reported to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Drastic changes in the senses can be a sign of disease.

senior ragdoll catChoo-Choo aged 17

Dental Issues

Many cat owners may not realize that aging cats often develop changes in their mouths. Dental disease, mouth ulcers, and tooth loss are problems that are common with senior cats.

Dental disease is the leading cause of mouth pain in cats and can lead to other health problems if left untreated. Good oral care is essential for keeping your cat healthy and comfortable as they age.

Here are some tips for caring for your elderly cat’s teeth:

-Schedule regular checkups with your vet, and let them know if you notice any changes in your cat’s mouth or teeth.
-Brush your cat’s teeth regularly with a pet-safe toothpaste. This will help remove plaque and tartar buildup and keep their teeth clean and healthy.
-Give your cat dental treats or kibble that is specifically designed to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.
-If your cat has existing dental problems, work with your vet to develop a treatment plan that will keep them comfortable and prevent further damage to their teeth.

By following these simple steps, you can help keep your elderly cat’s mouth healthy and pain-free.

 

Arthritis

One common health concern in older cats is arthritis. Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. If you notice your cat limping or having difficulty jumping, they may be suffering from arthritis. There are many treatments available to help ease your cat’s pain and keep them comfortable.

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Kidney Disease

One common ailment in senior cats is kidney disease. Kidney disease can often go undetected until it’s too late, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Symptoms of kidney disease in cats can include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, lethargy, and appetite changes. If you notice any of these changes in your cat, be sure to take them to the vet for a check-up. Kidney disease is diagnosed through a combination of blood tests and urine tests.

There is no cure for kidney disease, but there are treatments that can help prolong your cat’s life. Treatment options include special diets, supplements, and medications. Your vet will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is best for your cat.

 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

As our feline friends age, they can become more susceptible to certain health problems. One such condition is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that can cause a variety of symptoms, including weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting. While the exact cause of IBD is unknown, it is thought to be related to an overreaction of the immune system to normal gut bacteria.

There is no cure for IBD, but it can be managed with medication and dietary changes. If your cat has been diagnosed with IBD, it’s important to work with your veterinarian to create a treatment plan that will help them live a long and comfortable life.

My Ragdoll cat, Huey, was diagnosed with IBD when he was 13 years old. With a change in diet and daily medication, we were easily able to manage his symptoms and keep him comfortable. He went on and lived until the grand old age of 18.

senior ragdoll cat
Huey shortly before he passed. He got very thin in his final year

Cancer

One of the most common—and most feared—diseases in older cats is cancer. If you have a senior cat, it’s important to be on the lookout for any potential signs of this disease.

Sores that won’t heal and growths or bumps are both possible indicators of cancer in cats. If you notice anything unusual on your cat’s body, it’s important to have it checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

There are many different types of cancer that can affect cats, and each type has its own set of symptoms. Some forms of cancer are more aggressive than others, so it’s important to catch them early.

 

How to groom a senior Ragdoll cat

An elderly Ragdoll cat may not be able to groom itself as well as it used to, and as a result, its coat may start to become matted. You will need to help your cat by brushing its fur and trimming its nails regularly.

Here are some tips on how to groom an elderly Ragdoll cat:

  1. Brush your cat’s fur regularly. This will help remove any knots or tangles and keep the fur looking clean and healthy.
  1. Trim your cat’s nails regularly. This will help prevent overgrowth and keep the nails from becoming too sharp.
  1. Give your cat a bath only when necessary. Too much bathing can dry out the skin and coat, so only do it when absolutely necessary.

 

What kind of diet should an aging Ragdoll have?

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to diet and nutrition for your elderly Ragdoll cat. First, as your cat ages, they will likely require fewer calories than they did when they were younger. This is because their metabolism slows down and they become less active. You may need to adjust their food accordingly and make sure they get more of their nutrients from high-quality sources.

Secondly, it’s important to make sure that your cat is getting enough protein and fat in their diet. Elderly cats can sometimes have a hard time digesting carbohydrates, so it’s best to limit their intake of dry food or kibble. Instead, opt for wet food or canned food that contains high levels of protein and fat. Senior cats also need more taurine than their younger counterparts, so choose a food that is fortified with this essential amino acid. Look for foods that are specifically designed for senior cats and talk to your vet about how much and how often to feed your cat.

Lastly, make sure your cat has access to fresh water at all times. They may not drink as much as they used to, but it’s still important for them to stay hydrated.

 

How much exercise does an aging Ragdoll need?

An elderly Ragdoll cat will generally have a lower activity level than when they were younger. They may not be as interested in running and playing, but they still need some exercise to stay healthy. Exercise is just as important for older cats as it is for young ones. Regular activity helps maintain muscle mass, keeps joints healthy, and can help prevent obesity.

A good way to provide your Ragdoll with exercise is to set up a scratching post or cat tree near their favorite napping spot. Encourage them to scratch and climb by offering treats or toys at the top of the post. You can also try playing with your cat using a wand toy or fishing-pole toy. If your Ragdoll is resistant to exercise, don’t force them – just let them lay around and enjoy their retirement.

senior ragdoll catHuey aged 18

What changes do you need to make in your home to accommodate your senior ragdoll Cat?

As our cats age, they may require special accommodations to maintain their quality of life. Here are a few things you can do to make your home more senior-cat friendly:

Keep them indoors: Outdoor cats face many dangers, from cars and other animals, so it’s best to keep them safe inside as they age. If your cat has always been an indoor/outdoor cat, gradually transition them to being an indoor-only cat by keeping them in for longer periods of time each day.

Create a quiet space: Older cats may enjoy a little more peace and quiet than they did when they were younger. Create a cozy spot for them with a soft bed or blanket where they can sleep undisturbed.

Add more litter boxes around your home: Litter boxes are important for any cat, but they are especially important for elderly Ragdoll cats. These cats often have trouble moving around and may not be able to make it to their litter box in time. Having more litter boxes around the home will help to keep your cat clean and healthy. Make sure that the litter boxes are low-sided or have a ramp so that your cat can easily get in and out. You may also want to consider investing in an automatic litter box cleaner to make things easier for both you and your cat. Find out which litter boxes are best for senior cats.

Create a step up to your bed so they can easily get on it: This is especially helpful if your cat is starting to experience arthritis pain. You can use something like a small stool or even just a stack of books. Just make sure it’s stable and won’t topple over when your cat tries to use it. We love these pet stairs from Majestic Pet.

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Finally, don’t forget about their mental health. Just like us, cats can suffer from depression and anxiety as they age. Make sure you spend plenty of time playing with them and giving them lots of love and attention.

 

In conclusion, following these steps will ensure that your senior Ragdoll cat lives a long, healthy, and happy life. Give your cat lots of love and attention, and take it to the vet regularly for checkups and vaccinations. With the proper care, your senior Ragdoll cat can enjoy many more years of purring contentedly in your lap.

 

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Written by Jennie @ Ragdoll Cats World

I'm Jennie, the creator of Ragdoll Cats World. I have been owned and loved by Ragdoll Cats for almost twenty years after getting my first Ragdoll kittens, Huey and Choo-Choo back in 2003. They lived to the grand old age of 18 and 17 and they even made the move from London to Australia with me! We now have two Ragdoll cats, Violet and Ocean, and a Maine Coon cat named Eddie, and we love sharing our knowledge of all things related to Ragdoll Cats with you at Ragdoll Cats World!
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