Book Review and Giveaway: Complete Care for Your Aging Cat by Amy Shojai

Cats are living longer than ever before. More cats are being kept exclusively indoors, thus avoiding many of the health risks encountered by outdoor cats. More and more cat owners are understanding the importance of a healthy, species-appropriate diet as a foundation for good health. Advances in veterinary medicine now allow cat owners to pursue sophisticated treatments for diseases that would have been a death sentence in the past. But older cats (most commonly defined as cats age seven and older) have special needs when it comes to maintaining their health.

Amy Shojai’s Complete Care for Your Aging Cat was first published in 2003 and quickly became the “old cat bible.” However, seven years is a long time when you’re talking about health related topics. This newly released edition has been updated to reflect changes in veterinary medicine and includes a wealth of resources about treatment options, products and research, complete with links to websites when appropriate. The e-book version of the book includes hotlinks to relevant information.

This book is an invaluable resource for cat owners. Shojai covers basic information on how age affects your cat’s body in great detail. She explains how to look for changes that might signal health problems in older cats (for an excerpt, read Amy’s guest post Caring for Your Older Cat).  She discusses home nursing care to help older cats through various health issues, and presents advanced care options and how to make informed choices, including a section on making end of life decisions which is presented with great sensitivity, yet covers all the facts a cat owner needs to know when faced with this difficult choice.

The most valuable section of the book is the extensive and comprehensive listing of feline health conditions, ranging from arthritis to heart disease to kidney failures. Each section provides information on symptoms, reducing risk, and treatment options. I read a lot of cat health books,and I have yet to find another one that is as well organized and easy to use as a reference guide as this one.

But it’s not all hard facts and information. Each section of the book contains a “Golden Moments” segment, which contains heartwarming stories of real cat owners who share their lives with older cats and are continuing to enjoy life while dealing with typical issues common for senior cats. These touching, and often inspirational stories make this book more than just a reference guide.

I loved almost everything about this book. The one area that didn’t resonate with me was the author’s take on nutrition.  Pet nutrition is a controversial subject.  While the material is as well-researched and well-documented as the rest of the book, Shojai’s recommendations focus on senior diets and prescription diets.  I’ve written extensively about feline nutrition and won’t belabor the issue here.  You can read more about why I don’t believe these diets are the best choice for cats of any age here.

Even though I disagree with the author’s recommendations in this one area, I nevetheless highly recommend this book to all  cat owners, regardless of how old your cat may be.   This is a must read for anyone who wants to keep their cats happy and healthy well into their golden years.

Amy Shojai has generously offered to give away one copy of this book to one lucky winner.  If you’d like a chance to win the book, please share your story of your senior cat, or a friend’s senior cat in a comment.  The contest will run until Friday, December 10.  Share the contest on Facebook and Twitter and include the link in a separate comment for an extra chance to win.  Winners will be able to choose between an autographed hard copy of the book, or an e-book.

Amy Shojai is a nationally known authority on pet care and behavior, and the award-winning author of nearly two dozen nonfiction pet books, including Complete Kitten Care and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog.  She can be reached at her website http://www.shojai.com

19 Comments on Book Review and Giveaway: Complete Care for Your Aging Cat by Amy Shojai

  1. BeckyH
    December 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm (9 years ago)

    I rescue and foster cats although with adoptions slowing down my house is more of a santuary. I am not taking any more cats in because I want to give the best care I can to the cats that I currently have.

    A bit over a year ago I rescued a senior cat. She’s had a number of health issues within the time that I have had her but she is now feeling good and doing well. As an added bonus I have my own parking spot at her vet’s office.

    Another senior cat that I took in was hyperthyroid. Summer of 09 he had radioiodine treatment and he is also doing well. Although he is thinner then I’d like.

    I would love to have this book to help me take care of my kitties.

    Reply
  2. Azar Attura
    December 6, 2010 at 10:41 pm (9 years ago)

    Princess, who loved to jump and run, wiggle and play — would not have been elderly at 13, had she not had serious cancer. Three operations did nothing to stem the cancer’s brutal advance. As it was, the cancer ravaged her 13 yr old body and my once lovely vivacious happy velcro-kitty tabby with bright sparkling emerald eyes became a walking skeleton with pain in her eyes. While she still could, she would sleep with me at night and give me kitty-kisses in the morning. But even that ended, and all she could do was lie in one spot on my bed, not moving all night. I then was the one to give her kisses every morning. She was valiant and strong in spirit but not in body, and as the cancer progressed and metastisized to her lungs, I cleared off one side of my bedroom and lay cushions and pillows on the rug so she could lie in a warm and sheltered spot, near her food, water and litterbox. I would place her in her plushy cat bed and oh so carefully carry her to a sunny spot on the rug, where I would stay with her and talk to her.Towards the end, I fed her baby food by hand and gave her water with an eyedropper. I brushed her gently every day (she loved to be brushed) and every night before I went to bed, I would blow bubbles for my Princess. Her eyes would folllow the dancing floating bubbles as her body lay quietly on her blankets, her head on a heart-shaped pillow. Princess could have lived much longer than 13 years. But Cancer is a demon and it took her from me. On the night she died, she summoned up all her strength to jump up and whack the last bubble, to show everyone that she was still in charge. Then, she collapsed — and knowing beyond a doubt that it was her “time”– I gently picked up her oh-so-light body, and a 230 am rush to the vet helped to help her cut her ties and become one of the shining stars in the sky that night.

    Reply
    • Ace
      December 7, 2010 at 6:25 pm (9 years ago)

      PS- I have two other cats – one, Cee Cee, lived in a feral colony for at least two years before SHE found me. She was about 2 or 3 at the time. That was 8 years ago. She has a heart murmur and is hyperthyroid. I used a holistic remedy to bring her T4 levels down from 4.5 to 3.2. The Vet was astounded. Cee Cee will probably be on this remedy for life– it also has Hawthorne in it for her heart. Cee Cee adored Princess.

      My other cat is my 15 yr old “kitten”, Big Bad Baby Twinkle — she doesn’t adore anyone, but she tolerated Princess — I know she loves me and we are good buddies.

      I feed both cats the best canned food I can buy — they also get supplements of varying types and portions in their foodies. I add a little extra filtered water to their food to keep them hydrated. At times I add a little very well cooked (squishy) broccoli to their food — other times I feed them raw organic chicken livers — oh they LOOOVE that!

      They get tooth treats to keep their tartar down, and for fun, they get organic catnip (I grow it on my balcony, which is also totally securely safe for the kitties)

      Reply
  3. Lee Sullivan
    December 3, 2010 at 9:51 pm (9 years ago)

    We have an 18 year old cat that we already make special arrangements for, such as building him stairs to get on our bed and feeding him special food every morning. He looks terrible because he can’t really groom himself anymore so his hair gets all matted up. He ornery and downright psycho sometimes but he’s the most loving cat you could ever want. We also have 4 other cats ranging from 6-10 with no health issues. I expect (and pray) they will live a very long life as well. This book will help prepare me for what might come as they grown older.

    Reply
  4. Tessie and Smokey Pino
    December 3, 2010 at 4:16 pm (9 years ago)

    I would love to win this book. Princess is our oldest cat right now. Originally she was my mom’s cat, but after my mom suffered from severe allergies, Princess was made an outdoor cat. Fast forward to one year ago, Princess was bitten by one of the many feral cats in our area and the wound was treated, and it was at that point that Princess became MY indoor cat. She lives in my bedroom and we have bonded so well for the past year. Today she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and I’m committed to her well-being until it is her time to cross over the Rainbow Bridge. Each night, we sit together to watch TV, and there is nothing more calming and precious to me than my time with Princess. Well, thank you for reading my comment. Signed: Tessie Pino (and Smokey Pino =^..^=)

    Reply
  5. Cyn Marie
    December 3, 2010 at 11:26 am (9 years ago)

    I have 4 cats that qualify as senior. The youngest is probably 9 years old – he was a direct rescue and he still acts like a kitten. The other 3 came from a no-kill shelter and were found by a wonderful woman when they were 1 day old. They are littermates will be 12 in the spring.

    TC is the only one with real health problems so I should count my blessings but still I worry about him every day. He was diagnosed with Feline Diabetes 22 months ago and has been on insulin ever since. He was stable for a year and we were so excited but then in July everything went south. The vet is perplexed but had warned me that this could happen. All four are on a special diet – they are large breed cats and more likely to develop problems.

    This sounds like a wonderful book and I plan to add it to my library. I love my 4 monsters – after a hard day at the office I come home completely drained and there they are waiting at the door with unconditional love for as long as I can handle it. They never tell me I am too old or too fat and they never tell me I am not qualified to do anything. Who could possibly want for more?

    This is a great website – I work with dog only people and they think I’m crazy.

    Reply
  6. Heather
    November 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm (9 years ago)

    I have two stories. The first is about my own senior cat who passed away in 2007. He was almost 18. He had been a mostly outdoor all the time cat. He was a blessing to me and in many ways a best friend while I was growing up. When I moved out and could not take him with me my mother took splendid care of him. Garfield helped her cope with my father’s health problems after a severe stroke. Garfield helped my father by being his companion. We all loved him like he was a part of the family. I have a bracelet that calls him my guardian angel. It is truly how I felt and still feel about him. I wish I had known about this book when he was living.

    If I were to wing this book I would be giving it to a friend that has two mostly indoor cats that are both seniors. Bliss is around 15 and Grace is at least 10. Although my friends loves both her cats, Grace is her “baby”. Just this year Grace has started to suffer from somewhat extreme arthritis in both hips. She has good days and bad. Would like to see what this book has to say on the subject.

    I just love this blog!

    Reply
  7. Phoenix
    November 28, 2010 at 4:26 am (9 years ago)

    I don’t know the age of my cats because they’re all rescues (who came to my door & demanded to move in.) I’m sure my oldest girl qualifies as a senior though. I’m glad a book exists that focuses on the special needs of cats as they grow older.

    Reply
  8. Amy D Shojai, CABC
    November 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm (9 years ago)

    These stories are fantastic–I’m so touched and inspired by the lovely kitties and “cat parents” — Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
  9. Ingrid
    November 27, 2010 at 7:23 am (9 years ago)

    I’m really enjoying these senior cat stories – keep them coming!

    Reply
  10. Maree-Louise Quay
    November 27, 2010 at 6:53 am (9 years ago)

    I would dearly love to win a copy of “Complete Care for Your Aging Cat” by Amy Shojai. Twelve years ago, I found a forlorn little black kitten, sitting all by himself in a pen in an animal shelter. The moment I saw him, he ran to me and when I held him, he started to purr his little engine overtime. I took him home with me, and since that day he has never left my side.

    Willikins has gifted me the meaning of unconditional love, faith and trust; he has guided me through severe periods of anxiety and depression, and at times when my world was a bleak place, he has made me laugh, given me strength, shown me light and shared himself with me in the way that nobody else ever has, or could hope to. He truly is my soul cat and best friend.

    Willikins is my first senior furbaby and also the longest living pet I have ever had the honour, joy and priviledge of sharing my life with. He has recently been diagnosed with signs of future kidney troubles. As he approaches his twilight years, I wish to provide him with the absolute best care possible. I hope to always provide him with what he has given to me – a truly special love and life, blessed with happiness, health and joy.

    Thank you for the opportunity to enable me to ensure his life is forever enriched.

    Reply
  11. Teddy
    November 27, 2010 at 1:35 am (9 years ago)

    I don’t have a Sr. Cat at the moment but I do have a cat. My cat before my current one was Tina. She died 2 years ago, just missing her 20th birthday. She was the light of my life and I still miss her. She was my shadow, following me every where I went in the house. I was in my 20’s when I got here and we both did a lot of growing up together through the years.

    I knew the end was coming near and I had been keeping a close eye on her. She wasn’t able to follow me down the stairs any longer and I could her eye sight was failing. The vet agreed but just told me to keep0 her comfortable.

    I went up stairs one day to check on her and she was walking around slowly in a tight circle and had lost control of her bowels. I picked her up but I don’t think she recognized me. I put her down again to she what she would do. She just kept circling. I brought her to the vet and he again said there was nothing that could be done for a cat her age. He said it could be a number of things but that she wasn’t strong enough to go through any treatments so he thought it didn’t make sence to run her through a bunch of tests. I still wonder if I made the right decision. I had her put down. I held her in my arms and felt the life go out of her. Perhaps I should have brought her to a different vet. I will always wonder if I did the best thing for her.

    I would love this book so I can better prepare for my cat Amanda, when she gets to be that age.

    teddyr66 at yahoo dot com

    Reply
  12. Debbie
    November 26, 2010 at 4:31 pm (9 years ago)

    I admire Amy and would love to read her book. My senior is Puff, a 14-year old tuxedo Maine coon mix who is just the sweetest boy ever, especially considering he started out as a “barn cat”. Puff is healthy and active and I plan on keeping him that way!

    Reply
  13. Kim
    November 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m not sure if I have a senior cat or not, but I know that a raw food diet has made it hard to tell how old my rescue cat is. I adopted Amber a year ago and the first vet said she was 10 years old, the second one said 4 years old, and her rescue paperwork said 2 years old. She gobbles down the thawed raw food that she loves to eat. She plays and plays and is often running and wrestling with a foster kitten I currently have. I would love to have this book so that I can continue to keep her happy and healthy. Thank you.

    Reply
  14. Luanne
    November 26, 2010 at 11:35 am (9 years ago)

    I’d love to win this book! I have a house full of senior cats! The oldest is 22 yrs old, he’s a Flame Point Himilayan named Spencer. He was diagnosed 4 yrs ago with major heart problems. So bad that the specialists wrote him off and said he was going to die any day! But, he’s still here so he’s proved them wrong! He still has a very, very bad heart but you’d never know it. He has a great appetite, he’s still active, etc. I attribute his longevity, despite his bad heart, to his raw diet and supplements. My other cats are Maxxy (19 yrs old), Hemi and Tiki (both 15 yrs old) and the baby is Beau (7 yrs old).
    Thanks!
    Luanne

    Reply
  15. Marg
    November 26, 2010 at 10:19 am (9 years ago)

    That does sound like a good book. Now which senior cat should I write about?? Holly is definitely a senior cat but we don’t know how old she is. She came to live here 8 years ago along with four others at that time. She belonged to the neighbors but they weren’t feeding her so she eventually stayed here. She does have some thyroid trouble and also some IBD too. She is on medicine for both and is doing all right. I have 3 more senior cats too, so I would be interested in this book. So put me down please for the drawing. Thanks.

    Reply

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