Porky and Buddy Pet Health – Coping With Pets As They Get Older

Dear Porky and Buddy,
My cats, Ben and Jerry, ages 7 and 9, have been with me since they were kittens, but they seem to be getting less and less active.  They used to be a lot of fun, but now it seems like they mostly just lie around all day, even when I am home and try to play with them. I am thinking maybe a new kitten would spice up their lives a little.  Maybe they are just bored.  What do you think?

Dear Evan,
We all used to be a lot of fun, including you. Maybe they are bored with you and would like to replace you with someone more fun?

No this is not about you, is it?  It’s about Ben & Jerry.  So a few suggestions. Have they had a regular check up with your vet recently?  Behavioral changes, especially in cats this age, adults but not “over the hill” in cat years, could be a sign of an underlying health problem for one of them, and having one cat become much less active because of a health issue could impact the behavior of his companion too.

So check that out first.

Cats begin to show age-related changes at about seven to twelve years of age. As a cat ages, health issues may arise, including: deterioration of the skin and coat,  loss of muscle mass, more frequent intestinal problems, arthritis, obesity, dental problems, and a decreased ability to fight off infection.

Some of these are unavoidable. Others can be managed with diet.

So if you haven’t done this already, you can should start switching them over to a senior diet.

You want to maintain health and optimum body weight, and slow or prevent the development of chronic disease.  Older cats sometimes put on body fat in spite of consuming fewer calories. (Don’t we all?) This change in body composition is inevitable and may be aggravated by either reduced energy expenditure or a change in metabolic rate.

Either way, it is important to feed a lower calorie diet to avoid weight gain, but with a normal protein level to help maintain muscle mass. Your veterinarian can recommend a high quality senior diet. Don’t forget to make the switch over a gradual one to avoid stomach upsets.

Assuming that you have ruled out and/or dealt with any health issues and that you have already purchased every new cat toy imaginable, than what about introducing a new companion into the household?

Honestly, it’s a crap shoot.

We have heard of families where a new younger cat suddenly sparked a new zest for life in the old grouchy cats – and we have heard of families where the youngster was a disaster in the family dynamics.

So do two things if you want to try – find an organization that you can adopt from, like the Oswego County Humane Society, where you can return the new cat to its foster home if Ben and Jerry are unable to adjust.

And more important, do your homework about how to introduce a new pet to your feline family members and be prepared to be patient. No, you don’t just plop him or her down in the middle of the living room.

There isn’t  time to explain it in detail in this column, but the Humane Society will give you information when you adopt and there is a good explanation on the ASPCA website at this link: http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/cat-articles/introducing-your-cat-to-a-new-cat

Obviously, we think everyone should adopt all the time, so if you do try this option, we hope it makes all of you happier and more interesting.

And speaking of ways to be happy, the American Foundry, 246 W. Seneca St., Oswego,  is hosting a party to benefit the Humane Society on December 22 starting at 8 p.m.

There will be music by the Cortini Brothers with vocalist Tom Ciappa, raffles and a cash bar.

The price of admission? $3 or a bag of cat or kitten food. Surely your shopping will be done by then and it will be time to chill out before all those relatives arrive.

To see other pets available for adoption go to www.oswegohumane.org

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.

Phone (315) 207-1070.

Email:[email protected]

Because people and pets are good for each other.