Saturday, May 21, 2011

Maude's Long Journey

In our imaginary family, Maude is our oldest cat.  Life has been pretty easy for Maude.  She has food readily available, she can always find a warm spot to curl up, and she’s mellow enough to find Sparky the kitten to be only moderately annoying.  This life of ease has led Maude to become a bit plump, and she’s a bit slower to get up from naps due to some developing arthritis.  When Maude has to use the litter box, it can be a bit of a challenge for her because she has to make it all the way from her sleeping spot in the family room to the basement steps where she creaks her way downstairs and around the corner to the litter boxes.  Once there, she has to step over the high side of the box to get inside and maneuver into a good spot to eliminate.  This seems to get more challenging every year, especially since Maude now seems to have to urinate more often.  It’s easy to imagine a time when Maude doesn’t quite make it to the litter box before she absolutely has to find another spot to ‘go’.

     How can we make it easier for our older cats to use the litter box?  Here are a few ideas.  First, it’s great idea to have a litter box on every level of the house.  This way, our older (or larger) cats don’t have to deal with stairs every time they have to use the litter box.  Also, our older cats can sometimes deal with declining eyesight and hearing as well as mental confusion (much like our older relatives).  We want to make it as easy as we can to find a litter box.  If you have a litter box with higher sides, it might be nice to cut a ‘doorway’ into the side of the box so the cat can simply step into the box rather than having to climb in.  Finally, note whether the boxes seem to need to be cleaned more often than usual.  Kidney disease, diabetes, and other conditions can creep up on our pets.  A wetter litter box may be one of the few signs we have to warn us that kitty needs to see her veterinarian to diagnose an underlying medical condition (and perhaps discuss some arthritis medication).  We’ll work to make sure our ‘Maude’ kitties have comfortable golden years.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Next week: Weight loss?  Who needs it?

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