My Cats Are Senior Citizens … Just Don’t Tell Them That

Senior cat age is only a number.

Binga had what cat people commonly call “the zoomies” again. She raced from the far end of the dining room, down the hall, and made a masterful leap onto the king-sized bed in the master bedroom. Then she turned around and dashed back, repeating her sprints several times. At least we didn’t have to deal with her flying leaps onto one of the armoires. That was left for another day. Oh, did I mention that Binga is 13 and will be 14 in August?

I really don’t think much about Binga’s age, or Boodie’s, or Sparkle’s. They are spaced out a year apart: Boodie just turned 13 and Sparkle will be 12 in June. But recently another cat blogger was celebrating her cat’s eighth birthday, so I casually looked up what eight was in cat years, and it was 48 – the same age as the blogger. So I looked at how old 14 was in cat years – and it was 72. Since Binga is more than halfway through the year to 14, it means she is past 70 (after cats are adults, it is said that one human year equals four feline years). When was the last time your grandmother did sprints to burn off energy?

I would like to take credit for the youthful demeanors and generally good health of my cats. I feed them premium, grain-free canned cat food, and I am pretty diligent about reading ingredient labels. I even feed them healthier treats, such as freeze-dried turkey and chicken (and sometimes freshly cooked meat, too). Maybe that does count for some of it, but honestly, I think the main reason these cats are youthful and active in spite of being “seniors” is because nobody told them to behave differently.

Sometimes I wonder how much aging has to do with expectations because I have never once scrutinized my cats and thought, “Oh, they are getting old.” Most of the time I completely forget about how many years they’ve been around. When it comes to my cats, I imitate them by being in a constant state of now, and “now” knows no age. I don’t expect them to act a certain way at a certain age, and I think they pick up on that.

I also believe that in both humans and pets, much of what is thought of as “aging” is really disease or poor health – conditions that are really separate from physical aging. And overall, my cats are healthy. While I do take good care of them, that’s also a matter of luck and genetics. Sparkle has had some digestive issues and is perpetually underweight, but that hasn’t slowed her down. She rarely gets down off the 5-foot-tall cat tree by using the platforms – she takes a flying leap from the top tier, and then beats me coming up the stairs to the living room. Since she is a night owl (like her person), her zoomies usually happen around midnight.

I know that my cats won’t live forever and eventually they will slow down, but I don’t see that happening for a long time yet. What I do see are three energetic cats who play hard, sleep hard and eat well. Maybe we humans should take lessons from them.

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