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Helping elderly pet parent with cat care

elderly pet parents with cat on couch

Caring For Adult Cats FAQ

Q: My elderly mother, who lives on her own nearby, has a cat named Emmy whom she adores. My mother is getting a little forgetful, and her balance is worsening. How can I help her with Emmy, or should I find Emmy a new home?

A: With a little help from you, your mother should be able to continue to care for Emmy. Pets contribute a great deal of joy and unconditional love to people’s lives. Moreover, studies show that pets improve human health, prolonging high quality life.

To help your mother remember routine daily pet tasks, make her a cat care calendar to hang on the refrigerator. Start by choosing a blank calendar template from the internet. In every daily block, add three circles, each followed by one instruction: feed, water and litter. Then print the calendar and hang it on her refrigerator.

If she already has a calendar she likes, you can print stickers with the three circles and instructions, and you or she can place the stickers on her calendar.

When she completes each task, she’ll place an X in the circle to remind herself that it’s been done.

If your mother feeds Emmy twice daily, you can add two circles to the cat care calendar, or you can give your mom a pet feeder with a timer that automatically opens the food bins at the right times. Consider buying a pet water fountain that you’ll refill and clean as needed, so your mom doesn’t have to refresh Emmy’s water bowl daily.

The next issue is your mother’s balance. If Emmy zigzags through her legs, give your mom a water pistol so she can squirt her cat when she’s underfoot. It’s probably best that your mother not bend over to pick up Emmy, but instead, sit down and let Emmy jump onto her lap.

Help your mother find a house call veterinarian or offer to drive her and Emmy to the animal hospital for regular wellness care and problem visits.

Finally, your mom may feel more peace of mind if she makes arrangements now for someone to care for Emmy in the event her cat outlives her.

Dr. Lee Pickett

By Dr. Lee Pickett

Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at Copyright 2023 Dr. Lee Pickett and distributed by

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