Senior cats are your affectionate, long time companions that have won your heart over! Over the years, you have learned their ins and outs and what makes them unique. In turn, they know how to make you smile. Although cats can age differently depending on breed, activity level and diet, cats generally begin their senior years around the age of 7 or 8. At Van Isle Veterinary Hospital we recommend annual senior wellness exams starting around 7 years of age. The health of your cat can rapidly change with age and often times these changes go unnoticed. Cats will often hide signs of pain or illness in its early stages and by time owners notice their cat seems “off,” the illness has significantly progressed. With regular annual exams, preventative blood screens and senior dietary consults, together we can help your senior cat enjoy a lifetime of good health. The most important thing to remember is to cherish your pet’s senior years; they come too suddenly and pass too quickly. These will be some of the best years and moments you will have with your old, loyal and loving friend. So let’s make every day count!
How to spot signs of aging?
One of the most common and most underdiagnosed conditions in senior cats is arthritis. About 90% of cats over the age of 12 are suffering from some form of arthritis, yet their owners are unaware of this. Cats are small and quite agile therefore they can often cover up mobility difficulties and pain due to arthritis. Unlike dogs, cats generally do not limp from arthritis but will show subtle changes in their lifestyle and behavior. These changes can include a reluctance to jump up or down from surfaces, urinating/defecating outside of the litter box, scruffy coat from lack of grooming and less tolerance of people or a withdrawn attitude. PU/PD (increased drinking and increased urination) is another sign of aging and is often related to renal disease or diabetes. A dramatic weight loss is also an indicator of an age related illness and should be addressed by your veterinarian.
My senior cat is losing weight, what can I do?
If you notice your senior cat losing weight, the best thing to do is book a consult with your veterinarian for a physical exam. Dropping weight could be an indicator of a wide variety of illnesses varying from a simple parasitic infection to dental disease, diabetes, renal disease or a thyroid condition. Your veterinarian may recommend some diagnostics such as a senior blood panel including a urinalysis or fecalanalysis or an x-ray to rule out any of these potential underlying, age related illnesses.
What are some common health issues in senior cats?
Common health issues in senior cats include obesity, dental disease, renal disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes and arthritis.
Why is my senior cat having behavioural issues?
It is quite common for your senior cat to develop behavioral issues during the senior years. This is most often related to pain and discomfort due to arthritis or another age related diseases as well as cognitive dysfunction.
How to care for your Senior cat?
Caring for your senior cat starts at home with lots of TLC and being aware of your feline companion’s changing environmental needs. Making sure litter boxes and perches are easily accessible, as well as having access to plenty of fresh water is important. Annual wellness exams as well as regular senior blood screens play a key role in early detection, treatment and management of age related conditions.