Do you have an elderly cat at home? Does he want constant attention and to be held all the time?
As your cat ages, his behavior and movements, his receptiveness, and general way of doing things will change. There are two ways this can go. One, he becomes cantankerous or unresponsive, resisting all forms of affection and love from you as he slowly loses his memory and sensory functions, or two, realizing that he is losing the reflexes he once had and that his visual, auditory, or olfactory senses are dimming, he will seek you out and ask for love, attention, and comfort from you, his parent.
In this article, we will try to understand what these changes are and how they manifest in your elderly cat, to know how he will ask for your attention and to be held, and finally how to actually hold him.
First, let’s understand why your elderly cat wants to be held all the time.
Physical and sensory changes
Most cats age gracefully, but even then, there comes a point when they tend to lose their youthful agility, and their instincts, and their reflexes, weaken. This is the same for their senses. They do not see, smell, hear, or even feel things the same way anymore. When a cat loses his sensory abilities, he might see you as a touchstone, a stable and comforting influence to rely on. If he’s being clingy and wants to be held, it is because he recognizes your scent and it is familiar territory to him.
Aging cats suffer a decline in cognitive functioning that alters their behavior. Feline Cognitive Dysfunction or FCD affects more than 55% of cats aged 11 to 15, which causes them to lose their memory and their ability to learn. Your elderly cat might be prone to forgetfulness and his cognitive memory and motor skills will diminish.
There is a common misconception that cats aren’t social, affectionate, or friendly, at least when compared to dogs. While it might seem that way, cats are social animals. Ever notice your cat, elderly or otherwise, meow long and loud enough cause a din? That’s because they are seeking attention from you and want to be pet, held, or fed.
What are the ways your elderly cat will ask to be held?
You don’t need to wonder what your cat wants because he will find a way to show you. But here are certain ways in which your elderly cat will let you know he wants to be held, depending on just what kind of cat he is.
1. The classic cat
The classic way for your cat to show you he wants attention and to be held in the paw on your leg and the Puss in Boots look that follows. You know the look. But he will also:
- Rub his head against your side, or against your palms.
- Sidle up to you and curve his way between your legs and rub himself all over your ankles.
- Snuggle into you when you are seated.
These are comforting actions for your pet and if your elderly cat wants to be held or to sit on you, give him the lap time he needs and deserves.
2. The sassy cat
Some cats want attention and they want it now. Even though your cat has aged, he will not hesitate to pull out all the stops when it comes to getting your attention and getting what he wants.
- He will reach out and literally knock things over.
- He will sit on your laptop and not move.
- He will wait outside your door while you’re on the toilet.
- He will meow till Kingdome come, or until you pick him up and hold him.
The sweeter version of the sassy cat will bring you presents like leaves, or dead mice. Hold in that scream, get your braver spouse to remove the dead animal, take a deep breath, and hold your cat. Just hold him, mind you, don’t strangle him for leaving a mouse on your pillow for you to find.
Your elderly cat is going to get needier as he ages. Not just in wanting to be held all the time, but also in the care he needs, the food he eats, and the love he deserves.
How to hold your elderly cat comfortably without hurting him
By holding your elderly cat, you are giving him the attention and love he needs, but also simultaneously make him feel secure. But, just because your cat wants to be held, doesn’t mean he likes to be held in just position.
Learn to understand what your cat likes, and perhaps more importantly, learn to identify his triggers before you pick him up. It is possible that despite his need for a desire to be held, he might also fear being dropped. So it will help to make him feel secure. How? Hold him gently, and firmly, but not overly so that he can’t move or breathe. Just firm enough that he feels warm, secure, and loved. You’ll know when you’ve hit the trifecta when he starts to purr deep in his belly.
Here are some ways you can hold him.
1. The football
Your furball is around the same size as an average football, not taking into consideration all that fluff. So pick him up in the ‘football carrier’ position. Simply pick up your elderly cat and hold him against your side, under your arm like you would carry a football. It might be worth testing it out on your cat first to see if he likes to be held like that.
2. The baby cradle
You guessed it. Hold your cat like the big baby he is. First, lift him up gently and make a cradle with your other arm against your abdomen or chest before slowly letting him settle into the curve or crook of your arm. The other arm that God gave you will be petting him as he snoozes. You’re his slave, now.
3. The Baby Burp
If you’re only a pet parent and not an actual parent, it might be advisable to look up how to hold your cat this way. Mind you, you won’t be burping him, though, or he’ll cough up a hairball. This way of holding your cat is ideal if he slowly drifts off to sleep, feeling you breathing rhythmically against him.
Pet psychologists have stated that cats are very much in tune with their owner’s emotions. Your elderly cat can feel your heartbeat through your chest when you hold him like this, and if that is not just simply the most adorable thing ever, I don’t know what is. Like with the football carrier, check to see if your cat likes to be held up and against your shoulder, with an arm to support him.
4. The baby wrap
This is not a very popular pose to hold your cat because unless he seriously likes to cuddle and loves to be cocooned against you, he will feel like he’s being pushed up against a surface without much room to move. Cue the claw sinking into your chest.
5. Lap Time
Letting your elderly cat snooze on your lap while you work on your laptop or watch a movie is probably the best way of holding him, and letting him feel at ease in his own space. Chances are that he will circle around a couple of times, find a comfortable position, and will settle down, either pressed against your thigh or on your lap.
To sum it up, if your elderly cat wants to be, hold him. It’s as simple as that. He is looking to you, as his owner and parent for comfort and for security and if you don’t deliver, someone ought to call paw patrol on you. So, enjoy your cat and enjoy that he wants to be held all the time because that means he loves you and feels protected around you.