Cats are a very popular pet, and are considered family members by many owners. Unfortunately, many senior cats do not receive appropriate preventative health care. Our goal at the Mission Ridge Animal Hospital is to deliver consistent high quality care to senior cats. We promote longevity and strive to improve the quality of life of senior cats.
What are the stages of a senior cat’s life? How to spot signs of ageing?
A convenient way to view older cats is to classify them as “middle-aged” (7-10 years), “senior” (11-14 years) and “geriatric” (15+ years). Typical changes noted as cats age include: decreased skin elasticity, decreased hearing/vision/sense of smell, loss of lean muscle mass, moving more slowly (arthritis), constipation, dental disease, more easily stressed, and changes in behaviour.
My senior cat is losing weight, what can I do?
Part of the normal aging process is the redistribution of fat and the loss of lean muscle mass. It is important to ensure that your aging feline is receiving enough protein in his/her diet, as there may be a decrease in absorption. Many disease processes can also account for weight loss, such as: kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and cancer. A thorough exam, blood work and urine analysis is strongly recommended for all older cats that are losing weight.
How can I care for my senior cat?
A senior cat wellness visit will provide you with a tailored plan on how to care for your individual cat. Nutrition and weight management will be discussed, as well as maintaining a predictable routine with a quiet, safe sleeping area. You might need to change the access to food, water and litter. Senior cats may also need more help with grooming. The vast majority of senior cats benefit from the addition of omega three fatty acids and other joint support products.
What are some common health issues?
Kidney disease is very common in aging cats, as is hyperthyroidism (an increase in production of thyroid hormone), pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, dental disease, arthritis, cognitive dysfunction (behavioural changes) and cancer. Many of these conditions are associated with weight loss, an increase in water consumption and urination, vomiting, a change in appetite and diarrhea.
Why is my senior cat having behavioural issues?
Behavioural issues can arise secondary to pain or discomfort. This is why a thorough physical exam, and quite often a complete blood and urine analysis are necessary to pinpoint the site/cause of discomfort. It is also common to do a trial on a pain control medication to see if the behaviour improves. Cats can also manifest behavioural issues due to the natural changes in the brain associated with aging.