BOOKS: On Older Cats

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  June 2003:

On Older Cats
by Judith Lindley
1stBooks (1663 Liberty Drive,  Suite 200,  Bloomington,  IN  47403),  2003.
302 pages.  $14.50,  paperback.

Judith Lindley was given her first litter of kittens 30 years
ago,  at age 20.  They won her heart. She had found her life’s work.
Lindley still devotedly nurses unwanted cats at the Animal Helpline
no-kill sanctuary,  where she and her family shelter older and
handicapped cats,  along with dogs,  rabbits,  geese and turkeys.
In On older cats Lindley shares her hands-on experience and
gives practical advice on the care of older cats.  Some cat guardians
may be confused by the multi-faceted scientific explanations she
gives of the physiological and psychological changes within older
cats,  but her practical tips will definitely be useful.

External changes in older cats include thickening claws,
watering eyes,  and a thinning coat.  At the same time all the inward
changes or diseases can also be traced on the outside as well.
Symptoms of internal complications of age may include diarrhea,
allergies,  or watery nasal discharge.
If you notice anything abnormal, call your veterinarian first
for a telephone consultation, Lindley advises,  as unnecessary trips
to the vet are stressful for cats,  and for older cats more than
young cats.
Lindley recommends examining your older cat at home on a
regular basis.  Check the cat’s eyes,  ears,  and teeth,  clip long
claws,  clean the nose,  check for any unusual odors,  and give the
cat a whole-body massage.
Lindley also insists on the importance of daily grooming,  so that
shed hair will be removed,  not ingested.
Lindley gives feeding advice and tips on special diets suited
to older cats;  reviews the use of herbal, homeopathic and
chiropractic remedies for ailments of older cats;  discusses
applications of acupuncture, massage and vitamin therapy;  suggests
that foods containing red and yellow dyes may produce allergies,  and
advises to avoid them;  and notes that a little bit of butter given
on a regular basis will help against hair ingestion,  which can
become fatal.
If your older cat does not eat well,  Lindley recommends, try
heating the food to enhance the flavor.  Also keep plenty of fresh
water available at all times,  as older cats are more sensitive to
water containing any sort of contamination.
Older cats definitely welcome soft beds,  cat posts,  toys
and special treats,  Lindley says.  But what the older cat needs most
is a friend.  Love and emotional reassurance are essential for an
older cat,  she believes.  A feline friend might also be very
welcome.  It is important,  however,  that the two are on good terms.
The stress of rivalry can be dangerous for an older cat.
Cats of any age may be stressed by relocation,  extreme
temperature changes,  or even moving furniture.  Older cats tend to
become more stressed.  However,  since change cannot always be
avoided, Lindley includes advice on travelling with older felines.
People who are grieving over the loss of a cat will be
comforted by Lindley’s advice to replace feelings of guilt and anger
with loving memories and gratitude. The decision to euthanize,
Lindley explains,  should not induce guilt.  But Lindley urges that
money should never enter into the decision to terminate an older
cat’s life.
-Tanja Maroueva

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