Many cats enjoy spending some of their time outdoors (where the environment permits this) and a little daily exercise helps keep a cat’s body healthy and mind active. Many older cats will happily potter about the garden with you. They are usually much more home-centered and less likely to wander off on long hunting expeditions. If your cat has poor sight or hearing, make sure he is in a safe place when you want to mow the lawn. Other garden hazards include pesticides and other chemicals, poisonous or irritant plants, and in some countries venomous wildlife. A special enclosure or supervised walks on a leash may allow your older cat to enjoy the outdoors in safety.
Most older cats enjoy sunbathing, whether outdoors or indoors on a windowsill. As well as warmth, sunshine helps provide Vitamin D. A folded blanket or cat bed placed in an open greenhouse or conservatory may be appreciated though you must be extremely careful not to accidentally trap your cat in the greenhouse as older cats are less resistant to dehydration and heatstroke.
If your cat regularly sunbathes outdoors you should take precautions against skin cancer – dab non-toxic sun-block cream onto the cat’s ears and nose, especially if these are white or pale colored. The last thing your old wants is an operation under general anesthetic to remove cancerous ears. Bushes, or even an old open rabbit hutch, will provide shelter from the sun while allowing your cat remain out in the fresh air. In hot weather make sure there is extra drinking water available as older cats are quicker to become dehydrated.
Although most older cats will learn to use a cat flap, a few find they lack the strength to push one open, particularly if it is stiff or heavy. Some older cats become quite rickety and cannot cope with a cat flap, even if they used to use it when younger. If the cat flap causes problems you can remove the flap section during the day and fasten a piece of cloth or light carpet in its place. It is recommended that indoor-outdoor cats are kept indoors at night to reduce the risk of theft or accident so please ensure that there is some way of securing the flap at night; this will also prevent strange cats from entering the house at night.
An indoor litter tray will be especially welcomed in wet or cold weather even if your cat normally goes outdoors for his toilet during the daytime. After all, would you expect granny to use a privy at the bottom of the garden in inclement weather? Don’t make a cat stay outdoors in cold or wet weather, it is not good for them. If the cat gets cold or wet put him in a warm room or by a heater until he is completely dried off. If your cat is suffering from senility, you may need to bring him indoors as senile cats are forgetful of their own wellbeing and may lie out in all weather, even if soaked to the skin.