Senior Cat Care
Senior cats are wonderful members of the family and can thrive into their senior years. These special felines may need some extra TLC in their golden years and should be examined once to twice a year to help identify medical changes so early detection and intervention can occur. Arthritis and dental disease often go undetected at home because they can develop gradually. Both conditions are very painful and can be treated or managed. Annual wellness blood testing is beneficial to assess organ function to help identify diseases in the early stages. At Clayton Park Veterinary Hospital, we love our senior patients and consider it an honor to do all we can to improve and extend their 9 lives!
What are the stages of a senior cat’s life? How do I spot signs of aging?
Signs of aging in a senior cat can be very subtle. Cats will do all they can to hide any sign of illness or vulnerability. Any changes in appetite, weight, urination, drinking, bowel movements or behavior can be a sign of illness. If it seems like you are needing to scoop the litter box more often, your cat seems more restless or vocal than usual or you are wondering if they may have lost weight please call the hospital to schedule an examination. These are examples of signs that there may be an underlying medical concern.
My senior cat is losing weight, what can I do?
Weight loss is a common symptom we see in our older cats. There are senior diets formulated for cats to meet their specific nutritional needs. Protein restriction has not been proven to be beneficial for healthy cats but may be helpful for cats with kidney problems. If your cat has kidney disease, ask your veterinarian for advice on a suitable diet. If your cat is losing weight you should consult your veterinarian in case, there is an underlying medical problem and discuss whether following a special diet is advisable. Our veterinarians may suggest special foods and, if appetite is poor, it may help to feed fresh food and feed often. If feeding canned food, warm the food slightly to entice eating.
How can I care for my senior cat?
Regular veterinary examinations are an important part of maintaining a long, comfortable life for our senior pets. Cats are experts at hiding vulnerability. Senior kitties may have reduced mobility so it important to provide some form of steps for them to reach those higher perching areas where they like to lay. Jumping may not be as easy for senior cats so placing a chair, stool or some “cat steps” near their favorite spots will be helpful. Senior cats may also have trouble getting into the litterbox so having one with low sides will help prevent pain getting in and out of the box and prevent them from choosing alternate locations in the home to urinate or defecate. They may need help with grooming more than before so regular brushing is helpful, making sure you are brushing gently in case there are any sore spots. If you have questions about your senior cat, please do not hesitate to call us.
What are some common health issues?
Some of the most common health issues facing senior cats are arthritis, hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), kidney disease, diabetes, dental disease and cancer.
Why is my senior cat having behavioural issues?
As cats age, they may suffer a decline in cognitive function. If you are seeing any change in behaviour with your senior kitty it is important to talk to your veterinarian to fully understand what is happening and rule out other medical reasons.