Caring for your elderly cat
Elderly cats can seem to have the ideal life; snoozing in a cosy bed, eating when they fancy and occasionally demanding attention. They can appear so content, it is easy to assume that they are well in themselves, but their peaceful appearance can be deceiving! In their twilight years, our feline friends are vulnerable to many illnesses, but are extremely good at hiding the signs. So, we have to be super vigilant to ensure they don’t suffer in silence. Regular health-checks are a good way of helping to keep your cat in top shape and pick up medical conditions early, when they are easier to treat.
Here is a list of things to keep an eye on:
One of the most common problems for geriatric cats is painful arthritis. The vast majority will suffer with it to some degree but spotting the problem is a challenge. Cats are natural athletes, so they will still be agile to a certain degree, they will jump, climb and play, but with less freedom and frequency. You may notice they don’t sleep in a previously preferred spot, if it is higher up, and they hesitate before jumping both up and down. Perhaps they are sleeping more, don’t put a lack of activity down to age, it could be pain or illness. Is your cat a little more grumpy? Less keen to play or interact with the family? Not grooming themselves? Contact us to arrange a check-up.
Dental disease is very common in older cats and can be extremely painful. Older cats with dental disease may become fussy with their food, chew on one side, or refuse dry food. However, in many cases they will show no signs at all, making regular dental-checks vital. If your cat becomes fussy with food, contact us to make an appointment.
Notice your cat looking slimmer? In senior felines, weight loss is often a sign of underlying illness, but in many cases, the gradual nature of the drop makes it difficult to spot. We are very happy to weigh your cat, and this is a great way to monitor their health if you can’t weigh them at home. You can also monitor their ‘body condition score’, so ask us how to do this to keep an eye on their level of fat and muscle. A common cause of weight loss in older cats is thyroid disease. An overactive thyroid will cause your cat to lose weight despite a ravenous appetite. The good news is that thyroid disease can be diagnosed from a simple blood test and there are a range of treatment options to manage this condition.
Drinking more than usual may be an early sign of some medical conditions such as kidney disease and diabetes, both of which are fairly common in older cats. Cats naturally drink very little, so if you see your cat constantly at the water bowl, please get in touch for a check-up. Equally, if the litter tray suddenly seems heavy or your cat is urinating in the house, let us know.
We hear about this debilitating condition in humans and it can also affect cats. Affected cats may yowl in the night (this can also be a sign of other problems such as high blood pressure), seem confused, interact less with the family or start to urinate or defecate in the house. If your cat starts keeping you up, please let us know. A few health tests and some treatment can often get you both back to having restful nights.
If you notice any of the above signs, please get in touch to book an appointment for a health- check. The good news is that modern diagnostic tests, combined with an expanding range of treatments, can greatly improve the quality of life of your elderly pet.
With so many choices on the market, it can be quite a minefield finding the ideal diet for your pet. The most important thing is that the diet for your pet needs to be balanced and in the correct quantities. To help with this, many pet foods have a selection of age ranges, such as puppy or kitten, junior, adult and senior.
These are to help tailor the calorie and nutritional contents. Some also have specially designed breed types or breed sizes, such as giant and large breed dogs. It is very important that your pet stays a healthy weight to reduce illnesses in later life. Neutered diets and lower calorie diets are available to help maintain a balanced weight.
Complete diets can be in wet or dry forms, so you can choose what is best for your pet depending on their tastes. Some diets (or kibble) are designed to help with dental disease, which can be a complete diet or fed as a supplement. If your pet has an illness, a specific veterinary diet may help with your pet’s condition.
Kidney diets are low in some toxins and waste products to reduce the chemicals your pet’s body needs to eliminate. Intestinal diets are designed to help with short and long term digestive issues. Special hydrolysed diets mean that specific proteins have been broken into small pieces so that they can help reduce symptoms from skin allergies. With diets designed for fur balls in cats, diabetes and liver disease, the choice is endless. If you need any advice regarding your pet’s diet, please don’t hesitate to ask!