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How to Modify Your Home for Senior Cats

Everyone wants to talk about kittens but senior cats have special needs, too. Here's how to make sure your home is a healthy and safe environment for your senior cat.

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Keep Them Inside

While younger cats thrive outdoors, going outside can be dangerous for seniors. "Older cats have slower reflexes," says veterinarian Dr. Sarah Gilliam. "Their hearing and vision aren't great so they may not notice a car coming up. And they can't run as fast or climb up a tree to get out of the way." Gilliam recommends swapping cat doors for "catios." "It's almost like a screened-in porch so they get that outside time," she says. "They still get fresh air and sunshine, but they're enclosed and not in danger." Got a small space? You don't need a porch or sunroom. Catios can be as small as a window and are great for urban apartments.

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Don't Move Furniture

An open layout with clear pathways is best for your senior, but don't feel like you have to rearrange the furniture for your cat. In fact, don't. Cats and dogs memorize the layout of your house. Even if they go blind, they have it mapped out mentally.

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Photo: Margaret_Sherman

Use Night Lights

A cat's vision decreases with age, and sometimes a senior's sleep patterns change. "Certain diseases cause them to be more awake at night," says Gilliam. "Have night lights on in areas they traffic to help their vision at night."

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Prevent Jumping

Cats love to perch and look out the window at their domain. But if their usual lookout is up high, you may need to design a new spot. Prevent jumping by creating a low perch. This could be a shelf or ottoman that's low to the ground so your senior can still hop up and look out the window.

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