You may not believe it by looking at us, but Binga, Boodie and I are all technically senior kitties! I am 11, Boodie is 12 and Binga will be 13 around the middle to end of this month! We certainly don’t act like senior kitties — none of us is anywhere near ready to lie down and nap the rest of our lives away. We have fun and are curious about life, and we are all pretty healthy — even me, with my digestive upsets. I don’t let that get in the way of my search for fun, or the occasional whapfest.
So even though August is Senior Pets Month, you are not going to get any tips on how to care for aging kitties here. That is for geriatric cats, who are in the very last stages of their lives, or kitties who have one or more diseases that can happen to older cats… but don’t always. Nope! I’m turning Senior Pets Month around and I’m going to tell you humans why your assumptions about your own “aging” are wrong — and how to change them! Read these five tips, and learn:
1. Drop the word “senior” from your vocabulary. Did you notice that we cats don’t even have a word for senior? (Yes, I know that we cats don’t have words, period, but that is beside the point.) You humans are strongly influenced by the words you say and think, and when you hear “senior,” or find out that another human is a certain “age,” you get all these negative images in your head: creaky bones, shuffling feet, stooped posture, nursing homes, etc. So no wonder that’s the way that so many of you grow old. We cats don’t know we are supposed to do old-kitty stuff, so we tend to hang onto our youthful, active ways for a lot longer than humans of equivalent age. Binga still goes psycho on a regular basis, leaping on high dressers in a single bound, clearing counters as she slides across them, screaming like a banshee — and at nearly 13, she is the oldest cat out of all of us! She doesn’t know what the word “old” means… and you humans should forget!
2. Stay active and engaged. I doubt I will ever retire from supervising my human, which is a good thing because she would be lost without my help — and she doesn’t plan on ever retiring either. But of course, both my human and I love what we do. If you don’t, then figure out what things you do love doing — and figure out how to get to a place where you can do them all the time! If that means you will have to “retire” from a job you do not enjoy, fine, but don’t spend the last decades of your life sitting around! That guarantees you will be old — and dull, too. Find your passion, and follow it.
3. Eat right — and not too much. One of the reasons the three of us are doing well at our ages really boils down to our diet. We eat mainly canned food, and Binga and Boodie exclusively eat a grain-free diet (I am picky, so I get whatever I will eat). When we get treats, my human makes sure they are healthier treats, and nothing too junky. We are also strictly portion controlled so that none of us ever becomes overweight (Binga complains about this, but it is better for her to be slim). We have had few medical problems and no arthritis as of yet.
4. Understand that disease and years lived are two different things. A lot of times people think that when things go wrong with their bodies (or their cat’s bodies, for that matter), it has to do with “old age,” when the truth is that it’s a disease or condition that many times isn’t caused by the aging process. Even doctors sometimes pull the age card and it really annoys my human! Disease is caused by something going wrong in the body and often it can be fixed or adjusted and you are not stuck with it just because you are a certain number of years old. A friend of my human’s had to have both hips replaced and he is in his 40s. Meanwhile, her dad walks a few miles a day in his 90s. Sometimes stuff happens, for any number of reasons… and sometimes it doesn’t. If you have a physical problem come up and it is not terminal, take care of it, recover to the best your ability and keep living life, and that goes for all ages.
5. Be curious! This is the Big Kitty Secret to staying young forever, because as you know, curiosity is one of our most well known traits. Always be willing to explore, to find out something new. Ask questions. Never blindly obey authority (Binga is an expert at this). Yes, you might get in trouble, but you know what? Playing it safe is for oldsters, not for you! Who wants to live a boring, fear-based life? Be adventurous! Have fun. And especially for you humans, be teachable. It keeps your mind flexible.
These five tips have worked for us kitties — and I think they will work for you too!