Just like humans, cats sometimes slow down in their golden years. For example, your cat may develop stiff muscles or may not see as clearly. But you can make your house more comfortable for your older cat if you're aware of these changing needs.

First, don't automatically attribute changes in your feline companion to the fact that he's getting old. Let your veterinarian know about any changes you notice. You'll improve the chances for early detection of disease and ensure prompt care that may extend and enhance your cat's quality of life.

Non-Skid Flooring

Joint pain and muscle stiffness can make it hard for older cats to get around. Place non-skid rugs on wood or vinyl flooring to help prevent injury and make it easier for your pussycat to putter around your pad.

Comfortable Bedding

To ease your cat's aches and pains, provide a soft, cushioned bed where your pet can rest comfortably. You can buy a variety of padded beds, including heated ones. Your cat might also have trouble jumping up and down from a favorite perch or making it up the stairs to your bedroom at night. You can buy or build a step to help your pet reach a favorite lounging spot, and a lift up the stairs at night and back down in the morning will be appreciated.

If the litter box is up on a bench or a dresser to keep it private or out of the way, you may need to put it at ground level. Your older cat may not be able to jump as he used to.

Comfortable Temperatures

As your cat ages, colder temperatures will be less tolerated. It may be a good idea to place bedding near a heat register or, at the very least, keep the bed away from drafts and avoid letting your pet out when the temperature drops. Due to an aging cat being less able to regulate their body temperature, it is also a good idea to keep them indoors when the temperature climbs.

Adequate Lighting

As with humans, a cat's eyesight tends to decline with age. If this is happening to your cat, how can you help?

First, provide adequate lighting in your cat's living spaces. Consider using a nightlight to illuminate the rooms or hallways your cat roams at night. Refrain from rearranging your furniture in these areas. If the change in vision is sudden, consult your veterinarian as it may indicate a serious problem. Following these guidelines will go a long way toward helping your older cat and showing your appreciation for many years of faithful affection and companionship.