Category Archives: senior pets

The Cutest Senior Cat Contest 2011

We’re baaaaack.

November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month, so to honor our furry elders, we will have OCR’s third annual Cutest Senior Cat Contest. It’s an “American Idol” for cats — without the comments from Simon or Paula. It’s simple, fun and best of all, the top cat wins coupons for six months’ worth of World’s Best Cat Litter. The winner will have their choice of regular, clumping or scented formula. And that’s not all… we decided to do coupons, so our friends in Canada can take part. CLICK HERE TO ENTER.

To join in the fun, simply upload a photo of your senior cat (age 8 and older) and include their name and age. OCR’s community will vote for the feline who embodies the cat-itude that makes seniors so very special. Remember, it is important to include all the information on the form and your cat’s age. Cats that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge are also eligible. You can submit an entry from November 1 to 14; voting will be from the 15th to 22nd and the winner will be announced on November 29th.

While we love puppies and kittens, this contest is one small way the get the word out that seniors have so much love and wisdom (yes, wisdom) to offer. This will be the first year I’ve done the contest without Bubba, the inspiration for OCR. Although he lives on through OCR’s wonderful community and my memories, this year’s contest is specially dedicated to him.

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OCR’s Cutest Senior Cat Contest is Back

Chyna Bear chills after entering OCR's Cutest Senior Cat Contest.

OCR’s 2nd annual Cutest Senior Cat Contest launched today and it is rocking Facebook thanks to our friends and fans — but most of all, those fabulous felines that deign to share our lives.

Every November, OCR celebrates Adopt-a-Senior Pet Month with an American Idol-style contest that lets the community choose their favorite senior cat. And once again, we are happy to partner with World’s Best Cat Litter for a grand prize that includes a 6-month supply of litter. (I’ve tried WBCL and give it two paws up).

If you want your cat to glitter in the OCR Hall of Fame — and win the litter — it’s really simple.Visit OldCatsRule on Facebook, and click on the the promotions tab and upload a photo of your cat along with the cat’s name and age. But don’t wait too long because the contest ends November 14. The winner will be announced by the end of the month. Think about it: you won’t have to run to the store for cat litter and can focus on last-minute holiday shopping or parties.

All contestants must be at least 18 years of age and live in the United States.

 

 

 

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Pet Insurance: Should You Buy It?

By Heather Green
OldCatsRule

No one has to tell you that there are tons of products being marketed for pets that are completely unnecessary and wasteful of your time, money, and effort. Seriously, who needs a designer Snuggie for dogs? Sometimes it’s fun to buy novelty items for pets, but the upshot of it is that we know when we’re buying stuff we don’t need for our furry friends. If only it were so easy to decide whether or not to buy pet insurance – but with the following discussion of benefits and caveats, you should be able to figure out why insurance is worth it (or not) for you and your pet.

The Benefits of Pet Insurance

  • If you have an older pet, the good news is that insurance can help you save on increasing health care costs, compensating for the more frequent and extensive health issues that often afflict older pets. With new technological developments, treatment prices are going up steadily. For example, when pets are found to have cancer, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are now available and can cost you thousands of dollars if your pet is uninsured.
  • Once you’ve met your deductible, your insurance company will take care of the rest. Often, these deductibles are priced from $50 to $200, but more at-risk pets may require higher ones.
  • Monthly payments are pretty low, ranging from about $17 to $50. Older pets and those who have been consistently ill are likely to require payments at the higher end of the spectrum, but if you ever need to pay bills for chemotherapy, broken bones, ingestion of foreign objects, vehicular accidents, or other extreme cases, you’ll be glad you chose to pay each month.
  • Most insurance plans cover a wide variety of potential mishaps and illnesses. For example, car accidents, dog attacks, accidental poison or foreign object ingestion, X-rays, surgeries, cancer, diabetes, heartworm issues, allergies, arthritis, other illnesses, and even preventative care are all covered. You won’t have to pay for your annual checkups, dental cleaning, or vaccinations when you purchase pet insurance.
  • You can choose any vet you’d like to use.
  • Depending on which insurance company you select, you may be able to enjoy benefits like discounts on food, boarding, and training in addition to vet bills.

Factors to Give You Pause

  • Because monthly insurance payments depend on your pet’s age, breed, and location, the insurance you need for older pets is often much more expensive. However, if you buy insurance while your pet is still young, you’ll have a better chance of having a more reasonable monthly payment once your pet begins to age.
  • Hereditary problems, genetic conditions, and predisposition to issues like hip dysplasia often are not covered or require an additional monthly charge.
  • Declawing is not covered.
  • If your annual vet bills total less than the amount you spend on insurance, you’re wasting money.

Making Your Decision

Even if you end up paying more for insurance than you would for vet bills, pet insurance might be the right choice for you if you want the peace of mind that comes with it. You won’t have to worry about any surprise charges, expenses, or decisions about treatment based on price ranges. It’s impossible to tell whether or not your pet will ever need insurance, but some animals are more predisposed to illness or other health conditions than others. For these types of pets in particular, insurance tends to be a popular option, but premiums are higher in these situations. In the end, it’s up to you as you decide how much of a strain your budget can take, whether or not you can afford another monthly bill, and how important your pet’s health is.

Heather Green is former veterinarian tech, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice on online nursing colleges

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Therapy Cats and the Power of Purr

Snuggling next to a purring ball of fur can make the weight of the world a little easier to endure. Bubba has helped me in that department for many years.

However, certified therapy cats are relatively rare. While we have nothing against dogs, we believe in purr power is an underutilized resource.

TheCatSite.com notes that cats are less likely to knock over large medical equipment. However, they require careful training  before starting this new unique career. The CatSite offers some tips for assessing your cat’s potential to be a therapy pet. The Delta Society and Love on a Leash are also valuable resources for aspiring therapy cats.

I would simply like to point out a few stories of people who have been helped by therapy cats. From SnikSnak.com, I learned about Marie, a senior citizen with no friends or family — until Handsome came along. This is how one little Persian cat helped a lonely, depressed old woman:

“She remained curled in a fetal position with no interest in living. She had sores on her legs from constant scratching. After Handsome became Marie’s roommate, whenever she tried to scratch herself, he would play with her hands or otherwise distract her. Within a month the sores had healed. But even more incredible, she was so fascinated with the cat that she asked the staff about his care. Before long, she was inviting other residents to come visit with her pet.”

And , About.com‘s Cat Guide. shared a reader’s story:

“I’ve suffered from clinical depression and ADHD all my life. A year and a half ago I finally sobered up after a battle with drug abuse and stayed sober after intense treatment at hospitals, outpatient work, therapy, and medication. My life was a little more stable without the drugs but I still found it really hard to interact with people and get out of bed each day let alone stay organized and try to be even a little productive. I made the decision to get a cat and 4 months ago I brought home two little two-month old fluffballs: Genghis (an orange tabby) and Fidel (a tuxedo cat). They have been such a blessing. I finally feel like my life is becoming normal and all the bumps are starting to smooth themselves out. It started with knowing that no matter what I had to get up everyday and take care of them. Now I can’t wait to get out of bed. They’ve done what no therapy could ever do. Whenever I feel down they come over looking for pets and to curl up beside me”

Lastly, I want to pay tribute to the many times, Bubba and his late brother, Pudpat, got me through some sad times. Bubba is still a touchstone, doing his best to help me through the past year-and-a-half. I can never repay him — simply cherish him more with each day.

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The Daily Cat: Nutrition Help for Aging Cats

From the Editors of The Daily Cat

As a cat ages, changes occur in the way its body functions, so it makes sense that what it eats might also need to change. The following list of health issues may be more common in aging pets.

  • Decreased immune system function
  • More frequent intestinal problems
  • Decreased mobility
  • Dental issues

For mature cats with health issues, you can help by providing special nutrition for their special needs.  Here’s how.

Decreased Immune System Function
Throughout a cat’s life, a process called peroxidation occurs. Peroxidation is a normal process that the body uses to destroy cells that outlive their usefulness and kill germs, parasites, etc. but also can destroy or damage healthy cells. As a cat ages, the damage caused by peroxidation accumulates which, in turn, increases the risk of certain problems, such as infections.

Antioxidants are naturally occurring nutrients that help maintain overall health by neutralizing the peroxidation process of cellular molecules. Some antioxidants, such as vitamin E, beta-carotene, and lutein, are naturally occurring nutrients.

Recent research has found that dogs and cats fed a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, lutein, or beta-carotene had improved immune responses and vaccine recognition. This may be especially important for aging cats, because studies have found that as cats age, immune responses can decrease.

More Frequent Intestinal Problems
Older cats may have higher numbers of unfavorable bacteria and lower numbers of beneficial bacteria in their intestines, which can result in clinical signs of gastrointestinal problems (e.g., diarrhea).

Feeding a diet containing fructooligosaccharides (FOS) — a unique fiber source that helps nutritionally maintain healthy intestinal bacterial populations — promotes growth of beneficial bacteria. Beet pulp, a moderately fermentable fiber source, also helps maintain intestinal health by providing energy for the cells lining the intestine and promoting small, firm stools.

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The Daily Cat: Host a Playdate

From the Editors of The Daily Cat

When best friends Carolyn Miller and Jennifer Cohen adopted kittens around the same time, they decided it would be fun for their cats to become playmates. The reality of the situation was that one cat spent an hour terrorizing the other cat, causing worry about the cat’s safety. They agreed that would be the first and last playdate.

The right preparation can make cat playdates not only safe, but cat-tastic too. “Cats are social animals and can have one or more select friends,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, a Maryland-based, cat-exclusive veterinarian. “Cats that are properly socialized tend to be happier and enjoy their environment more.” Brunt offers her top five tips for helping your furry friend make friends of its own.

Tip No. 1: Start young.
“Kittens aged 7 to 12 weeks are the most suitable since this is the critical time to shape positive behavior,” says Brunt. “Many veterinarians recommend kitten socialization classes, like Kitten Kindergarten, where kittens are allowed to interact with each other.” During these classes, kittens are also introduced to handling, grooming and transport. Food rewards are given to reinforce positive actions and reactions.

Adult cats can also be socialized — they simply must be introduced to their new cat friends more slowly (see below).

Tip No. 2: Identify your cat’s personality type.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, cats may be loosely classified into four categories: bold and active, easy and affable, withdrawn and timid, and assertive. Your cat may be easier or harder to socialize depending on its personality.

“Cats that are fearful and easily aroused will require more patience and time using positive rewards for tiny improvements in calm behavior,” says Brunt. The other three types will have an easier time in general. If possible, try to bring at least one easy and affable cat into each playdate pair. Avoid introducing a timid cat to a bold or assertive one.

Tip No. 3: Find a neutral territory.
“A neutral territory is a place neither cat has been,” explains Brunt. When neither cat has claimed a place as its own, you can expect less territorial and adversarial behaviors.

If a neutral territory is not a possibility, Brunt suggests choosing one room in your home. “Any room can serve as a playground, as long as you’re there.”

Tip No. 4: Make slow introductions.
“Always go slow!” emphasizes Brunt. Relaxed owners should introduce cats gradually — over a period of days or weeks. Begin with complete separation, which means the cats are occupying different rooms in the same house. Then allow the cats to make visual contact.

From there you can move to free exploration of the same room, but only when the cats are supervised. “All cats should be ‘chaperoned,’ preferably by at least two different people,” says Brunt.

Tip No. 5: Know your cat’s signals.
Your cat’s body language speaks loudly. “A ‘Halloween cat,’ standing with its back arched and tail up, is exhibiting an aggressive stance and should not be further aroused, as it may exhibit extreme aggression,” says Brunt.

Owners who are familiar with their cat’s communication can watch for signs that the animal is uncomfortable or unhappy, and can extricate the pet from the situation. Recognizing signs of contentment and positive energy is important as well. Brunt encourages rewarding an animal with treats for “speaking” appropriate body language.


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The Daily Cat: Nutrition Now Cat Food for Seniors

From the Editors of The Daily Cat

One of my cats, Sweetie Pie, is now over 20 years old. According to age conversion charts, that means she’s at least 96 in human years. The black-and-white-furred wonder is far from slowing down, however. She still loves to play and flirt with my elderly male cat. She wakes me up each morning by energetically jumping on my head and butting me in the nose.

But Sweetie has slowed down since her middle-aged years. For advice on what foods are best for senior cats like my Sweetie, I recently consulted Dayton, Ohio-based veterinarian Amy Dicke, DVM, who has been a member of teams consisting of nutritionists, researchers and fellow veterinarians.

Cats Are Senior at 7 Years of Age
“The cat may look youthful on the outside, but aging changes are occurring on the inside,” explains Dr. Dicke. If your cat is at or over the age of 7, you should transition to a “maturity” food formulated for senior cats.

Ingredients Should Satisfy Nutritional Requirements
Cat food for felines of any age should be 100 percent nutritionally complete, with no fillers or artificial preservatives. Beyond that, Dr. Dicke says these three food components gain added importance for senior kitties:

  • Antioxidants Substances that neutralize the peroxidation process are called antioxidants. Peroxidation is a normal function during which the body destroys cells that outlive their usefulness, but it can also damage healthy cells. Antioxidants like vitamin E come to the rescue by combating this damage. They also improve immune responses, which decrease as a pet ages.
  • Prebiotics Nondigestible food ingredients like soluble fibers, which can stimulate the growth or activity of good gastrointestinal bacteria, are referred to as prebiotics. They’re especially important for aging felines.
    “Older cats tend to have a higher number of undesirable bacteria and a lower number of beneficial bacteria in their intestines, which can result in digestive upset,” says Dr. Dicke. “Prebiotics, such as fructooligosaccarhides (FOS) can nutritionally promote the growth of desirable bacteria and help bring the digestive tract back into balance.”
  • Protein All cats are protein-craving carnivores. Protein, the building block of muscle tissue, merits extra attention for senior kitties, though. “A diet for a healthy older pet should maintain a higher protein level to preserve muscle and [to allow the cat to] continue to be physically active,” says Dr. Dicke.

Feed a Low-fat Diet
Mammals experience reduced energy expenditures and lowered metabolic rates as the years tick on. Exercise helps, so continue to play with your mature cat but be sensitive to your pet’s limitations and when rest time is needed. In terms of food, diets reduced in fat levels with lower caloric density than adult maintenance foods are beneficial to the majority of older cats. In addition, high-quality manufactured foods often include healthier fats, like fish oil, which contain omega-3 fatty acids. Studies indicate that these acids support heart, brain, joint and digestive functions.

Pay More Attention to Dental Issues
Some creatures, like sharks, can regenerate teeth if they lose them. Unfortunately, cats can’t perform this natural tooth-replacement trick. Once a tooth is lost, it’s gone for good, and kitty dentures aren’t yet available. Another problem, according to Tiffany Margolin, DVM, is that older cats can develop cavity-like “gum erosions,” which can practically dissolve the teeth. If you cannot brush your cat’s teeth on your own, take it to your veterinarian for annual professional cleanings. Also, seek out dry cat foods formulated to reduce tartar buildup. 

Note Behavioral Changes
When I recently celebrated a birthday, Sweetie Pie and I looked at each other as if to sing a mental chorus of Stevie Nicks’ Landslide: “I’m getting older too.” Sometimes it takes a birthday or other milestone in life to wake us up to physical changes. Dr. Dicke advises that cat owners “can improve the quality of life for senior cats by recognizing their changing physical capabilities — such as a declining ability to jump up or a difficulty in climbing into the litter box — and make efforts to aid their feline companion in these everyday activities.” The lowered litter box and maturity cat food in my pantry remind me that Sweetie is a bit past her prime. But I treasure every moment with her and hope she continues to go off the cat age chart.

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