How's she gonna eat it if she can't bend down to reach it?
September 14, 2013 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Our 20 year old cat is having a really hard time with some functional issues in her golden years. We're running out of ideas. Help?

We've rigged up some significantly raised food and water dish stands so she doesn't have to bow to reach the bowl, but because she's not particularly strong and has relatively few teeth she needs us to hold the bowl up at a 60ish% angle so she can press her tongue against the bowl to get the wet food scoopstuck to it. We bought a 4-step carpeted stairs thing from the pet store so she could get to her favorite place on the bed, which worked for a while but now the stairs have become too steep for her to feel safe/balanced climbing up on them, so she's not using them anymore either.

I've looked around online and cannot believe how few products there are for senior/special needs pets past the soft beds and the multivitamin supplements. I must not be using proper search terms or something... Can you please point me toward old cat independence help?

Specifically, we're trying to find:
- A low, wide litter box + a flat non-slip mat the litter box would sit on, without edges she won't be able to sees so she doesn't trip, and when she oopsies over the side it doesn't ruin carpet
- Tall tilted or adjustable-angle food and water bowls.
- VERY gently-angled non-slip ramps, bonus points if it has sides or edges to help her feel securely positioned.
posted by mcbeth to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This site has some slanted bowls but they are pricey!
posted by crw at 3:11 PM on September 14, 2013

Best answer: I like to diy stuff and I have a feeling dedicated pet assistance stuff would be wildly expensive to actual cost to make.

for the low, wide litter box how about a underbed storage rubbermaid box? Pretty shallow and wide, maybe cut an extra low entrance? For the nonslip mat I would cut a yoga mat to whatever size you need? Yoga mats can be washed in the washing machine and hung up to dry for any needed cleaning. For extra protection, use plastic sheeting underneath the whole thing.

I have dedicated cat food bowls and I would glue cheap rubber door stops to the bottom of them to get the angle you need. I find door stops at the local dollar store that usually come a pair in a package.
Use yoga mats stapled gun to a heavy board for ramps.

Hope this helps!
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 3:11 PM on September 14, 2013 [8 favorites]

One of my dogs has similar eating problems and I bought a larger bowl to go under her regular bowl. I sit the smaller bowl in the big bowl tilted at an angle and that works for our dog.
posted by dottiechang at 5:02 PM on September 14, 2013

Glue a food bowl to a door stop or two.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:06 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use the really tall and wide cat dishes offered at Would they help? Could you ask a potter, maybe on etsy, to make a tall and angled dish?
posted by analog at 7:42 AM on September 15, 2013

There was a previous discussion about handicapped-accessible litter box ideas, which may be useful.
posted by jeri at 9:47 AM on September 15, 2013

Response by poster: D'oh! After reading your responses I just sent an excited letter to a potter friend asking, 'Pleasepleaseplease can you make this with a few changes?' Analog, that raised pottery bowl is a great idea! Our friend may be able to tweak it with a little more tilt and lip to the dish part. And we're definitely keeping the door stoppers as our backup plan.

Also, it hadn't occurred to us that we could cut up plastic storage bins, but we're also going to give that a try. I do wonder if the under-bed storage container option will be on too grand a scale for the somewhat tight spaces we have to work with, but we're on a clearer track now and I do think a wider box would help because she's very weak in all her legs, esp. in both her back legs. A box with a very, very low threshold would be much easier for her to have to (barely) step into than anything with tallish walls on any side.

I'm also going to sketch out some kitty ramp dimensions and will give my retired father a construction challenge.

On behalf of our sweet ancient tortie Puppy and her calico sidekick Fidget, many thanks for these helpful ideas!
posted by mcbeth at 3:37 PM on September 15, 2013

Also, I use this litter box and like it for its high sides and design intended to discourage the cat from peeing through the door. I wonder if you could cut the door a little lower?
posted by analog at 11:13 AM on September 16, 2013

Response by poster: On a happy note, the potter friend came over a few days ago to sketch and measure what we want for accessible food and water bowls. She's super excited for the opportunity to make something all new and different, and we expect that she'll have the bowls made in the next month or so. I'll post pictures when we have them, in case anyone wants to see how they turned out. On a less happy note, sweet Puppy's health took a dramatic turn for the worse yesterday. Last night we requested a house call from a local vet to help us help her not have any more pain. I am confident we made the kindest choice at the right time, but for now we have very, very heavy hearts.
posted by mcbeth at 7:44 PM on September 26, 2013

So sorry to hear about Puppy! Was that the name of your cat, or did you have a dog, too? I am sorry for your loss.
posted by analog at 3:22 PM on September 30, 2013

Response by poster: This is what happens after I told my then-4 yr. old that he gets to name the new kitten. Puppy was one of our cats.

Thanks for your kind thoughts. After Puppy was gone, Fidget (15) took a deep emotional dive. It was an unexpected response, because she'd really only marginally tolerated Pup. Having never before seen grief demonstrated in a cat, it was hard to watch.

Further happy note...
As luck would have it, in October we adopted two 5 month old strays from a local rescue organization, who are now thick as thieves. He is mellow, she is a bigmouth. They're both exactly right for one another, and excellent companions for Fidget.

We've taken the very slow exposure process approach to introducing the two news to the one old. It very much resembled the opening and closing of prison doors to let these one go there while the one goes the other way, but they're all acclimating well and Fidge is this close to playing with Orpheus and Purrsephone.

We're still waiting on the tilty food bowls to be delivered.
posted by mcbeth at 10:03 AM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

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