Common Health Problems in Senior Cats

By Valdette Muller| December 13, 2016 | Blog

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Most cats that live indoors have a life expectancy of around 12 to 18 years. The odds for outdoor cats are significantly lower and they may only reach 4 to 5 years. All cats are considered seniors around the age of 12. With advanced years come health-related issues that need to be noted:

Arthritis

Cats suffering from arthritis are less active and may sleep more than usual. It is a painful condition that often requires treatment. The use of fish oil and omega 3 fatty acid supplements may decrease joint inflammation.  Prescription veterinary pain medication may also be given in severe cases. If your cat has arthritis, provide a cozy cat bed and comfortable bedding. Always make sure that the food and water bowls as well as the litter box are easily accessible.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a common ailment in older cats. Symptoms may include increase in thirst, frequent urination as well as vomiting, weight loss and a lack of appetite. When the kidneys are diseased, waste products in the body are not filtered properly and build up in the blood stream resulting in a condition known as azotemia. Early detection will allow your vet to slow down the progression of symptoms with medication and various treatments, depending on the severity of the disease. Sadly, in severe cases there are limited treatment options.

Dental Disease

Good dental hygiene for cats is a must, as studies indicate that ⅔ of cats over the age of 3 show signs of dental disease. Most cats won’t tolerate having their teeth brushed but providing healthy chews may prevent the buildup of tartar and plaque. Dental disease is painful and can affect a cat’s appetite causing weight loss. Left unchecked it may lead to more serious heart or kidney problems.

Diabetes

Much like us, a cat’s risk factors for contracting diabetes are leading an inactive lifestyle and being overweight.  Symptoms may include excessive drinking of water, weakness, and breath that smells like acetone or nail polish remover. Most cats that do develop diabetes will require insulin injections.  Home testing is done on a small glucose monitor with a small drop of blood. If your cat is overweight your vet will recommend a safe weight loss plan.

All cats should have a veterinary examination once a year, seniors more regularly and your vet may suggest a check up every six months. Most ailments and diseases are easier to treat when detected early. Ageing is a natural process and the key to ensuring your senior cat has a healthy and high quality of life is to recognise and reduce any health risks.

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