How to Help Your Senior Cat Thrive!
2 August, 2017
Cats, just like humans, are living longer healthier lives. And as cats age, just like us, they have new issues that have developed from the ageing process. Many of the conditions or changes that our senior cats go through can be diagnosed and treated which will add value to their lives and help our senior cats thrive.
Cats are known to hide their illness and elderly cats are the same exact way. It is common for a cat to have a serious medical problem, yet not show any sign of it until the condition is quite advanced. Since most diseases can be managed more successfully when detected and treated early in their course, it is important for to carefully monitor their senior cat’s behavior and health.
Below are common issues in our older cats and what can be done to treat these issues:
Weight loss or changes in appetite
Is your kitty looking a lot thinner lately? Can you feel or even see your cat’s shoulders, spine or hips, but couldn’t before?
Unexpected weight loss in your cat is always a trigger of a bigger issue and should be discussed with your veterinarian. Eating less (or more, but accompanied by weight loss) is a sign to start with an exam and lab work to rule out common senior feline diseases, such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease.
Dental disease is another issue in senior cats
Dental disease is another common issue for mature adult and senior cats, and an exam should be done to make sure there are no signs of periodontal disease that would lead to weight loss or a decrease in appetite. Although feline dental disease does not always lead to changes in activity level, many cats have been more youthful and playful after dental work is done. Checking teeth during any vet exam is always a top priority.
Changes in grooming
Is your cat’s fur looking a little dull or unkempt? Are you dealing with mats that weren’t there before?
Changes in grooming can mean many things, including an underlying systemic issue, a weight issue where your cat can’t physically groom places they once were able to groom or your kitty has physical pain, such as arthritis, that prevents them from grooming with ease.
Make sure to brush or comb your cat daily to remove loosen hairs and prevent your kitties from swallowed and forming hair balls. Brushing also stimulates blood circulation resulting in a healthier skin and coat. Older cats may not use scratching posts as frequently as they did when they were younger; therefore, nails should be checked weekly and trimmed if necessary.
Changes in mobility
Just like ageing humans, cats will accumulate degenerative issues along the way that may affect their joints and spine.
If your older cat is in a lot of physical pain or showing any signs of limping when they move around, an exam and X-rays are always a good start toward diagnosing any underlying issue. Omega fatty acids and glucosamine with chondroitin sulfate (there is both an oral and an injectable form) are very helpful with bone strength.
Changes in the litter box
Remember to scoop litter boxes at least once daily. Scooping once daily allows you to see if there have been any changes in urinary or defecation habits, which can alert you and your veterinarians that there may be something to check.
Older cats are also more likely to experience urinary tract infections or bladder and kidney stones, and you may see more frequent urination, vocalization in the box or blood or urine outside of the box.
Stool volume or texture may also change as cats’ age. Less stool in the box, less frequent visits, smaller and harder stools, vocalization in the box or stool outside of the box may indicate constipation or dehydration. More stool in the box, softer stools or stools outside of the box may be an indication of pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism or other primary or secondary gastrointestinal issues.
Changes in interaction
As our cats age, they will start to sleep more and may interact and play a little less than they did before with us or other pets in the household (although each cat is different). This is very common and not a cause for alarm unless you notice your cat meowing more often and doesn’t want to interact at all.
If you watch for the signs and are proactive in taking your cat to your veterinarian when you see any serious change, your senior cat should live a long, happy life.
If you think your cat has arthritis, you can watch for the signs: Arthritis in Cats