Did you know that about half of the cats in Canada are over the age of 8 years old? Cats between 7-10 years are considered mature while cats between 10-14 years are considered senior, and over 15 years, cats are considered geriatric.
Knowing that 25% of mature cats and 50% of geriatric cats develop at least one problem related to being older (whether physical, medical or behavioural), I wanted to highlight things to be aware of, and watch out for, as they head into their golden years.
Just like in humans there are many diseases that come as we grow older – age in itself is not a disease. While some cats will mature more gracefully than others, we want to ensure that anything that can be done is done, that our feline friends have the maximum potential for long, happy and comfortable lives.
With age, all organs and bodily systems are affected. The best thing you can do for an older pet is to maintain routine and structure without any changes. Monitoring their eating and drinking habits and ensuring they have plenty of comfortable, warm and quiet areas to call their own, means they are set up for success! ANY changes that you observe should be noted and discussed with your veterinarian because even the slightest shift could be a signal for something significant. While we cannot completely avoid the possibility of illness as your cat ages, we can detect diseases early and treat accordingly – this is the key.
Because pets age significantly faster than humans, it is strongly recommended that we see mature pets every six months – this way we can monitor their progress and health more closely and identify issues in a timely manner. During these visits your veterinarian will explain the importance of checking blood pressure, performing routine bloodwork and a urinalysis to assess organ function. Together you can come up with a suitable plan for your cat based on their individual needs.
I have broken down a list of things you can monitor at home below. Keep an eye out for our next blog “Aging Cats Part 2” for a more detailed explanation and breakdown of each of these points along with further details regarding why older cats require routine veterinary care. Please keep these things in mind as your cat gets older so that together, we can ensure your cat lives a long, healthy and happy life.
Here are things to watch for at home:
1) Loss of appetite/Picky eaters
2) Vomiting, Diarrhea or Constipation
3) Hearing Loss
4) Vision Impairment
5) Coat, Nail and Skin Changes
6) Metabolism Changes