Many of the senior cat behaviour changes veterinarians see in older cats can be due to medical conditions such as arthritis.

Senior cat behaviour

Senior cat behaviour. Photo: Kaiwen Sun/

As cats become older, they may be more apt to change their behaviour or develop certain behavioural problems. With the correct diagnosis and treatment, many of these behavioural problems can be resolved.  It may take some patience on your part, but your longtime feline friend is worth it!

If your senior cat’s behaviour is changing, have your cat examined by a veterinarian. Your older cat is more easily stressed, so attempt to reduce stress by making any necessary changes in routine gradual, and decreasing the exposure of your cat to stressors.

Senior cat behaviour changes

Here are common behavioural changes your mature cat may experience:

  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Aggression
  • Fear/anxiety
  • Change in activity patterns
  • Stopped self-grooming as a result of arthritic pain

Senior cat behaviour tips

We can help senior cats to adapt to these behaviour changes in a variety of ways:

  1. Visit your veterinarian to diagnosing problems early
  2. Use of appropriate medications and supplements as advised by your vet
  3. Modifying the cat’s environment, for example,
    1. Ensure food and water bowls are easily accessible.
    2. Provide ‘steps’ to help cats jump up onto and off their favourite spots
    3. Provide litter trays with low sides for easier access and keep the trays in a secluded place where they feel safe
  4. Changing the way in which we interact with our older friends


Dr Cathy Savage ‘11 tips for senior pets
More information at Doctors Foster and Smith,