When kitties enter their golden years they’re likely to experience health issues, which according to Dr. Lindsay Butzer, DVM, a Florida-based veterinarian and spokesperson for Zesty Paws, can be exacerbated by where they're doing most of their catnapping. "Older cats are usually very thin and have protruding hip, spine, and elbow bones that over time are prone to pressure sores after sleeping on hard surfaces," Butzer tells Bustle. For that reason, the best cat beds for older cats all have supportive cushioning and are easy for felines to get in and out of. And, because "they also move slowly and may not make it to the litter box in time," Dr. Butzer suggests finding a bed that's also easy to clean.
To help you make the right choice for your feline, Dr. Butzer breaks down the most important features:
- Size and height: Dr. Butzer recommends measuring your cat head to hip and then doubling that size to find the right model. "You want a cat bed that is bigger than the size of your cat so that they can comfortably move around, especially geriatric cats because if they do soil themselves you want them to be able to move off of that spot onto a clean [area]," she explains. Also, options with a low, wide opening will be easiest for cats to step into. Otherwise, Dr. Butzer notes, "if the bed is too thick, a senior cat may have trouble climbing into it and experience arthritis pain."
- Cushioning: Built-in cushioning will help support arthritic joints and cradle tired bones, according to Dr. Butzer. However, for the most relief, go for one labeled as orthopedic.
- Shape: The best way to decide on a style is to tap into your experience with your cat's personality quirks. Does it like to curl up and be nestled? Look for a fluffy marshmallow style they can sink into. Do you always find it stretched out as it snoozes? Go for a flatter mat without a rim. And if they've become less social with age? Dr. Butzer suggests an igloo bed to offer them some privacy.
- Heat: “Older cats get cold easy," Dr. Butzer explains. "Having a controlled cat warming bed with a built-in heating pad will help keep your older cat warm and comfortable.”
All of the best cat beds below are designed to be comfortable and cozy for older cats and are machine washable for convenience.
1. The Best Cat Igloo
Not only does this cat igloo have an impressive 6,800 five-star ratings, but it also comes recommended by Dr. Butzer as an excellent bed for cats who love to hide and only come out when they're comfortable. The covered cat bad comes in nine colors and three sizes (gray lattice in size small, 16 by 16 by 4 inches, pictured) and has a tall and wide opening in all three. Inside, the igloo has a removable cushion that offers a "soft" and "fluffy" level of padding, according to reviewers (the manufacturer doesn't indicate how thick it is). Plus, both the softshell structure and the pillow are machine washable.
One cat caregiver's take: "This bed is our older cat’s favorite place to be. I put it in the cubby in a desk and he sleeps there for hours purring the whole time. It’s well-made and soft. The top does not collapse but offers the kind of private sleeping spot cats love."
2. The Cult Favorite
More than 19,600 Amazon shoppers have given this plush sofa bed glowing reviews because of how supportive it is. It's constructed with 3 inches of egg crate orthopedic foam that helps cushion pressure points and distribute your kitty's weight evenly. It also has a low and wide entrance point that makes it easy for any pets with mobility issues to navigate. The three-sided bolster edge provides neck and back support and the faux-fur top is extra cozy and soft. Bonus: the polyester cover comes off with a zip and can be machine washed. Choose from 14 colors and five sizes (quilted navy in size small, 20 by 15 by 5.5 inches, pictured). If your elderly cat has any incontinence issues, it's worth considering this waterproof sofa bed instead.
One fan's take: "We have a very old, special needs cat we adopted years ago as a senior. She has problems keeping her poop in, is arthritic, doesn’t groom herself (long hair), is on meds for seizures [...] The point is we’re basically caregivers for our cat and anytime something you have HELPS you, you’re overjoyed. That is the case here and our cat LOVES this bed (it’s the small cool blue one) - it takes pressure off her joints and old bones."
3. The Best Heated Bolster
If your older cat has a hard time regulating its body temperature, this heated bolster is a great investment because it can provide something valuable to your furry family member: warmth. The removable heating pad heats up in just 20 minutes and, per the brand, it will maintain a pre-set safe max heat of 102 degrees Fahrenheit whenever your pet lies on top of it. And when they get up? A clever "eco mode" kicks in and brings the temperature back down to only 10- to 15-degrees Farenheight above your ambient room temperature. This keeps you from having to worry about switching it on and off if you're away. Also, note the heating pad comes with a 5.5-foot cord so you have some flexibility in where you place the bed. Other highlights include a 2-inch orthopedic foam base and a soft faux-fur covering. The entire bed (minus the heating pad) is machine washable and you can choose between two colors and two sizes (large, 16 by 22-inch oval pictured here).
One fan's take: "This cat bed is safe to keep plugged in all day and gets warm when kitty lays down in it. I love that he can help himself when he gets chilly and we are not home. He is an older cat with arthritis and gets cold and achy and will go straight to his warm kitty bed. Does not get too hot, just a nice warm heat. When he gets up the heat dissipates and cools down."
4. The Best Affordable Cat Mat
If your elderly feline prefers space to stretch out, this contoured mattress provides excellent support for achy joints and is great for pets who like to be in the middle of the action because it won't obstruct their view of their surroundings. The u-shape cradles and cushions joints, relieving pressure and gives your cat a perch to rest its head. The bed boasts 2 to 4 inches of orthopedic foam for even more comfort and a soft micro-velvet top that's removable and machine washable. Choose from four colors and six sizes (microvelvet clay in size small, 21 by 14 by 4 inches, pictured).
One cat caregiver's take: "My cat is 23 lbs and got cancer in his back leg, so we had to get it amputated to save his life. I recd this a few days after his surgery. It took a few days, but when he realized it was really comfortable and also easy to get off and on he was on it all the time. I believe it helped him feel less pain and stress."
5. The Best Marshmallow Cat Bed
Filled with high-loft, thick polyester fiber, this donut-shaped cat bed has a self-warming fleece center and a soft faux-fur exterior. The rim acts as a bolster, giving older cats a place to rest their head, and though the sides are a bit higher, they do help make kitties feel protected and at ease during naps. "A thicker doughnut rim around the cat bed is nice for geriatric cats that do not have enough strength to elevate their head in a comfortable position," Dr. Butzer explains. Just note that while there is some nice filling in the middle, the base isn't as supportive as the picks above. Still, with 4,600+ five-star ratings on Amazon, pet owners do love it. The entire bed is machine-washable and has a water-resistant, non-skid bottom. Choose from two sizes (small, with 19.7-inch diameter and a 7.9-inch height, pictured) and eight colors.
One fan's take: "Our cat loves this bed so much, we’ve bought three for different rooms of the house. It’s incredibly soft but seems to have enough structure that he can snuggle up against the side. We tried both sizes and our 12 lb cat clearly prefers the medium. He’s an older cat with arthritis, so we’re guessing he likes having a little more room to sprawl."