Senior Cat Care

Taking care of your senior cat is very important in helping to extend years together. But it is not only important to have years together but to make those years healthy and happy. By working closely with a veterinarian and taking extra care you can make a difference in your cat’s life.

 

Facts About Senior Cats

  • The AVMA reports that there are 90 million cats in the US (that’s 20% more than dogs). BUT cats are only seen by the veterinarian half as often.
  • As many as 17% of senior cats appear healthy and still have an underlying disease.
  • Genetics, nutrition, and environment all contribute to how cats handle aging.
  • Cats are known to mask illnesses.
  • As cats age, much like people, their metabolism and activity levels slow down.
  • It is highly recommended that senior cats be seen by a veterinarian at least every 6 months. In a senior cats life 6 months can represent 4 to 6 years in the life of humans.

 

The most common disease in senior Cats
  • Cancer
  • Kidney Disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Dental Disease
  • Obesity
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis

 

How to help your cat live a longer, healthier life
    1. Exams Every 6 Months – Yearly exams are sufficient for younger, healthier cats. But in senior cats, health status can change in as little as 6 months. Remember those 6 months in a senior cat’s life are equivalent to 4-6 years in the life of a human.
    2. Diagnostic Exams
      • Complete Blood Count (CBC) – A simple blood test that evaluates the number of blood cells circulating through the body. It looks at white blood cells (help fight off infection and/or inflammation), red blood cells (which help carry oxygen to tissues), and platelets (which are important in the formation of blood clots).
      • Chemistry Panel – Simple blood tests that evaluates the function of many important organ systems. Such as: Liver, Kidney and Pancreas. It also evaluates the body’s electrolytes as well as enzymes that are key in muscle and bone health.
      • Thyroid Function – This blood test is very useful in evaluating the function of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) is common in dogs. Whereas for cats hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) is more common.
      • Urinalysis – Assessing the urine helps better evaluate the urinary system.
    3. Parasite Testing
      • Fecal – Evaluating a pet’s stool sample allows your veterinarian to look for intestinal parasites such as: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidian, girardia, and others.
      • Blood – Blood is used to test for the presence of heartworm disease. Blood can also be evaluated for blood-borne parasites.

Diagnostic tests are key in early detection of many life-threatening diseases.

  1. Proper Nutrition
    • As your cat ages medications need to be made to their diet.
    • A diet needs to be highly digestible, palatable, and needs to have a proper balance of calories and nutrients.
    • It may be necessary to place your senior pet on a therapeutic diet. Therapeutic diets are formulated to help aid in the treatment of many diseases.
  2. Environment Changes – Your may need to make some changes around the house to help out your senior cat, such as: easier access to litter pans, resting areas that are low, warm and soothing, and assisting with routine grooming.

BE ALERT – signs that may help you observe changes in your senior cat.

Checklist for senior cats
  • Change in water consumption
  • Lethargic/Depressed
  • Change in urination habits
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Lumps/bumps
  • Breathing heavy or fast while resting
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in attitude
  • Constipation
  • Noticeable change in vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath or drooling
  • Excessive panting
  • Change in grooming habits
  • Any stiffness, lameness, or trouble with walking/jumping

If you notice any of these changes in your cat call your veterinarian to schedule an exam. Early detection of potential health problems can help “slow the clock” for your senior cat.