Cats can age differently depending on their breed, activity level and diet; however, they generally begin their senior years around the age of 8. The health of your cat can rapidly change with age. These changes often go unnoticed. Cats will often hide signs of pain or illness in the early stages. By the time owners notice their cat seems “off”, the illness will have significantly progressed. With regular annual exams, preventative blood screens and senior dietary consultations, we can help your senior cat enjoy a lifetime of good health.
What are the stages of a senior cat’s life? How to spot signs of ageing?
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 unbeknownst to their owners. 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 behaviour. 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urinating/defecating outside of the litter box, scruffy coat from lack of grooming and less tolerance of people or a withdrawn attitude. Increased drinking and urination is another sign of ageing that is often related to renal disease or diabetes. A dramatic weight loss is also an indicator of 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 is losing weight, the best thing to do is to book a consultation with your veterinarian for a physical exam. A significant drop 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, a urinalysis or imaging to rule out any of these potential underlying, age-related illnesses.
What are some tips on how to care for my senior cat?
Caring for your senior cat starts at home with lots of loving care and awareness of your feline companion’s changing environmental needs. Making sure litter boxes and food/water bowl are easily accessible is essential, as well as ensuring that the water bowl has plenty of fresh water. Annual wellness exams and regular senior blood screens play a key role in early detection, treatment and management of age-related conditions.
What are some common health issues experienced by senior cats?
Common health issues in senior cats include obesity, dental disease, renal disease, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Why is my senior cat having behavioural issues?
It is quite common for your senior cat to develop behavioural issues during their senior years due to pain and discomfort related to arthritis or other age-related diseases as well as cognitive dysfunction.