Aging is a natural part of your cat’s life and age is not a disease. Even though many conditions that affect older cats are not curable, they can often be managed. The key to making sure your senior cat has the healthiest and highest quality of life we should, 1. Recognize and reduce factors that may be health risks. 2. Detect disease as early as possible. 3. Correct or delay the progression of disease. 4. Improve or maintain the health of the body’s systems.
The aging process is accompanied by many physical and behavioral changes:
- the immune system becomes less able to prevent disease
- dehydration can occur rapidly from common disease processes and cause these conditions to become worse
- the skin of an older cat is thinner and less elastic
- older cats have a harder time grooming themselves and can become prone to more skin diseases
- symptoms of reduced brain function or dementia can be seen in older cats, these include wandering, excessive meowing, apparent disorientation, and avoidance of social interaction.
- hearing loss can occur
- aging can effect the eyes function and reduce eyesight, this can be caused by many underlying disease processes such as diabetes and renal disease
- dental disease is extremely common in older cats and can hinder eating and cause significant pain.
- reluctance to eat or drink may occur
- kidney failure is a common disease in older cats, and its symptoms are extremely varied.
- degenerative joint disease, or arthritis, is common in older cats
- hyperthyroidism , hypertension, diabetes mellitus; inflammatory bowel disease; and cancer are all examples of conditions that can become more prevalent in cats as they age.
How do I keep my older cat healthy?
Observing your cat’s behavior is your best tool for keeping him healthy. Changes in behavior are often the earliest sign of disease. Watch for changes in skin and haircoat, look out for lumps and bumps that appear and especially pay attention to their teeth and gums. Periodic blood screening may be beneficial for your cat to screen for disease processes, see our senior health profiles. A checklist provided by Cornell University is a very handy way of paying attention to your cat, if you can’t answer “yes” to all of the following statements, please call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
- is acting normally; seems active and in good spirits
- does not tire easily with moderate exercise
- does not have seizures or fainting episodes
- has a normal appetite
- has had no significant change in weight
- has a normal level of thirst and drinks the usual amount of water (about an ounce per pound of body weight per day, or less)
- does not vomit often
- does not regurgitate undigested food
- has no difficulty eating or swallowing
- has normal appearing bowel movements (formed and firm with no blood or mucus)
- defecates without difficulty
- urinates in normal amounts and with normal frequency; urine color is normal
- urinates without difficulty
- always uses a clean litter box
- has not developed any new offensive behavioral tendencies (such as aggression or urine spraying)
- has gums that are pink with no redness, swelling, or bleeding
- does not sneeze and has no nasal discharge
- has eyes that are bright, clear, and free of discharge
- has a coat that is full, glossy, and free of bald spots and mats; no excessive shedding is evident
- doesn’t scratch, lick, or chew excessively
- has skin that is not greasy and has no offensive odor
- is free of fleas, ticks, lice, and mites
- has no persistent abnormal swellings
- has no sores that do not heal
- has no bleeding or discharge from any body opening
- has ears that are clean and odor free
- doesn’t shake its head or scratch its ears
- hears normally and reacts as usual to its environment
- walks without stiffness, pain, or difficulty
- has feet that appear healthy, and has claws of normal length
- breathes normally without straining or coughing
Cats Age Conversion Chart
|Cat Years||Human Years|