Looking After Your Older Cat
Old age itself is not a disease but we are aware that certain diseases can be age related. Some of the medical conditions that can affect cats such as kidney and heart disease, diabetes and high thyroid levels often start to show signs between 7-11 years of age. In response to this we believe it is important to begin monitoring older cats for these conditions from seven years old (around 49 human years), or earlier if cats are at risk from other factors such as breed and prior health problems.
Your role in looking out for early warning signs
As your cat’s owner, you are in the best position to look out for the early warning signs of aging and age related diseases. Here are some of the signs that can indicate change and require action:
• Change in appetite
• Weight loss or gain
• Loss of housetraining
• Excessive drinking
• Excessive urination
• Bad breath or bleeding gums
• Plaque or discolouration of teeth
• Appearance of lumps and bumps
The nature of cats
Cats are very good at hiding illness. Whilst they are predators they are also small enough to be prey, thus their survival instinct dictates they hide ill health. This can be to the extent that some cats will hide altogether. The clues we look for are often very subtle intuitive signs. Being closest to your cat, your observations can be very significant.
A healthy life for longer
It is important to have your older cat vet checked very 6 months so that any changes in their body can be picked up and treatment started if required. Throughout the senior life of your cat your vet will aim to identify subtle changes in urine concentration, blood pressure and weight, along with other changes you may have noted at home such as appetite, drinking excess water, unusual behaviour or decreased activity level. If there are abnormalities detected in initial testing, further investigation or more frequent testing may be recommended.
A properly formulated diet will have a significant impact on the health of your senior cat and your local vet can advise you on the best nutrition for your moggy. The whole aim is to make the life of your feline friend long and healthy.
A companion for life – the good news
Over the past few decades life expectancy of cats has been increasing. This is due to a number of factors:-
• An emphasis on preventative healthcare programs to detect problems at an early state so treatment can commence sooner
• Advances in veterinary medicine enabling veterinarians to successfully diagnose and treat more conditions
• A greater understanding of the nutritional needs of cats throughout different lifestages