The 20 Year Old Senior Cat and His Litter Box Woes

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Let me start by shouting a bit HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY TO NILES! even though he won’t hear it. The old boy has officially made it to 20 years of life and is still trucking along. He’s slower, needs more frequent oil changes, his radio doesn’t work, and he has a little rust, but he’s still a totally drivable little truck.

On that note, I wanted to talk about his litter issues. For the last year, I’ve been noticing him choosing new and exciting places to pee – the front hall rug, in front of the TV, adjacent to the litter box, in the doggie’s bed. I thought perhaps he’d just given up caring, but I knew that as a fastidious gentleman, there was clearly something else going on, so I looked a little deeper. While I was looking, I surreptitiously slipped some Pee Pads under the rugs and in his favorite spots so as not to embarrass him.

First, I noticed he had a limp. I thought we were going to have to go to the vet until I checked his paws and realized he had a bunch of clumping litter stuck between his toes making it too difficult and painful to walk. After a brief foot bath in a small dish and a lot of screaming and yelling from both of us, his toes were clean and he could walk again. This necessitated a switch of litters to a gentler formula and we went with Shwheat Scoop. It works great for him, though I’m not too happy with the fact that my house frequently smells like litter box – there’s nothing in it, so there’s no smell control. Natural, yes. Fragrant, yes. Pleasant, not so much, but we’ll deal with it for Niles.

Next, I watched him use the box. He turned and spun and squatted, then bumped the sides. He tried again, and turned, and got his head all covered in dust. Then he tried another box and another box, then went back to the first box, then gave up and went back to bed. I realized that the arthritis in his hips was making it difficult to squat. It’s hard to find a large enough litter pan for a cat with these issues, so I went upstairs into my storage and pulled everything out of the under the bed storage container, filled it with Shwheat Scoop, and he was back in business, or doing his business, as it were.

As of late, there have been no new whizzing adventures and he’s faithfully using his storage box. My attic needs a cleaning now, but I’d prefer that instead of the surprise whiz puddles I’ve been stumbling into.

So, for those only scanning, my TIPS FOR A SENIOR CAT’S LITTER BOX ISSUES are:

  • Mind your litter type. Clay litters can get caught in between their toes, especially if they’re accidentally peeing on their own feet, and that can be painful and upsetting. Use something gentle.
  • Have a large enough box that squatting wide isn’t an issue. Use an under bed storage tote or look for one of those dog litter boxes (yup, that’s a thing) with the large surface area and low entry way
  • Keep the box in a place that’s easily accessible. Don’t make him go upstairs, downstairs, or too far away.
  • Pee Pads will become your new friend
Here we have the new litter tote next to the high-sided box that Pinkle requires. Note the pee pads taped to the wall because now Pinkle enjoys the freedom of the tote but can’t seem to color within the lines, so to speak.

And with that, I wish my fabulous senior kitty Niles Chesterfield a happy, happy 20th birthday. He’s been around just about half my life now, and I look forward to having him here for as long as he wishes to stay.

Love,

Alana.

Niles stealth-chillin’ in his little flip out, soft foam bed. I had to put the towel there just to be able to spot him.

**FTC DISCLOSURE: This post was not paid for nor is it an ad. All products mentioned here are things I purchased on my own and all opinions are my own. No reviews were requested from any of the products mentioned. **

Happy 19th Birthday Niles! Living With A Senior Cat

Happy 19th Birthday to Niles!

Niles. Still fresh.

I don’t know the exact date, but it was just about this time in 1999 that Niles made it into the world. Since then, he’s been my little buddy, my sidekick, my couch finder. When he was young, he could jump from the floor to the top of the fridge. He was fast, slim, and loud.

So what’s changed?

Well, he’s still slim and loud, but slightly less fast. He can’t jump to the top of the fridge anymore, but he can still jump over the baby gate I put to keep him in his room at night. Why does it have to stay in his room? Because sometimes, he forgets where the litter box is. He yowls a lot at night, but he’s always done that. I think the hardest thing to adjust to is that my little friend has gone completely deaf.

One day, Niles could hear, the next he could hear a bit, and just like that, it was gone. Our vet says that cats, after about age 16, can lose their hearing seemingly overnight. He wasn’t too concerned by it and said that Niles can still be quite happy. And he is.

Living with a deaf cat is a little bit different. I use a lot of hand signals and he’s learned what they mean. He’s very quick to arrive when he sees me waving the food dish. It’s easy to scare him, though, so I have to approach carefully. He yowls louder than before because he can’t hear himself, which caused him some anxiety at first (for both of us), but he’s calmed down since then. He’s gotten some extra love and petting, and he adores being groomed.

I can’t pick him up like I used to and squish him with hugs. I have to gently lift him and administer gentle comfort.

He also doesn’t bathe himself as well anymore, so I use kitty wipes and a brush to groom him and he loves our grooming time.

Caring for a senior cat isn’t exactly like having a young cat; it’s a different experience, one that can be frustrating but also very touching and rewarding. Niles is still Niles. He’s still my friend, companion, and couch finder. He just needs a little extra care these days, and I’m ok doing that for as long as he needs.

Happy birthday to my little buddy.

With age comes wisdom, and apparently an ability to not care if a dog has her ass in your face.

Niles in 2001. He’s still ALMOST this flexible.

Finding couches since 2000.

And lastly, that time when Niles represented Senior cats in an ad for Pet Health Network. He’s a natural.

 

Today We Meet Niles!

Hello, Readers.

 

Today, we meet Mr. Niles Chesterfield of Cambridge. London. (He insisted I add that. He’s from Wisconsin. He’s not fooling anyone.) Niles is the senior member of the Grelyak household. Having been adopted from a no-kill rescue somewhere about the turn of the century, (this latest one, not the previous one), Niles has been with MomFOD throughout her college years and all the years beyond. He’ll be celebrating his 18th birthday this year and is still chugging along like a champ. Let’s hear what he has to say!

Niles today. (Well, yesterday, or recently enough, anyway.)

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Crepes: How’s the weather today, Niles?

Niles: What feather?

Crepes: No, the weather!

Niles: Back in Ott 9, I recall a rather beautiful feather. It tickled my fancy, one might say.

Crepes: Right… So, tell us about yourself?

Niles: I have a fabulous shelf. High up on the wall, built by my Alana herself. Quite a good show she put on, really.

Crepes: I see.

Niles: So can I! Hearing’s not so good these days, though.

Crepes: You don’t say.

Niles: It’s Tuesday.

Crepes: I quit.

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Anyway, there you have it! Dear Old Niles, the 17, almost 18, year old black cat with the scruffy fur and a love of cuddling. He would like to represent the senior constituency of our readers.

Niles, at age fifteen and a half.

Niles

Lookin to the future!

Love,

 

Crepes.