Being with your pet over their lifetime helps you get familiar with their usual behavior and habits. Anything contrary or new to their behavior and habits may be reason for concern. These changes may be a sign of illness.
Signs of illness in cats are very subtle as cats are stoic and do not exhibit overt signs of discomfort or distress. Even the most observant of owners are liable to miss some of these behavioral changes especially when the onset is gradual.
It is important to take your cats for wellness checkups routinely, especially when they’re coming of age. Cats should visit your veterinarian annually until 10 years of age and then every six months after 11 years old.
Your veterinarian will show you how to watch your cat for physical signs of change and give you advice on what can be done to keep your kitty healthy for as long as possible.
Some illnesses can be helped via nutritional methods. With the right diet and some medications, we can greatly improve your cat’s well-being.
We will discuss with you the behaviors and habits that may be indicative of clinical signs of changes in health.
Change in sleeping pattern or circling
Variations in thyroid function
Reduced kidney function
Changes in vision
Diminished sense of smell
Heart or circulatory problems
Reduced rate of digestion and nutrient absorption.
Reduced ability to handle stress or behavioral changes.
Difficulties in mobility/arthritis
Whether your cat is old or young, the love you have remains the same. However there are some roles you need to assume to ensure your cat enjoys a long and healthy life during these different stages. Primarily, you need to be conscious of their behavior and habits.
Their needs may gradually start to change as they age, but they are still very much in need of the basic social interaction, affection and enriched environment you provided when they were kittens.
While older cats sleep more, it doesn’t take away the fact that they still need your interaction and a stimulating environment to keep their body and mind engaged. This is especially true of indoor cats. So keep playing with your cat, it keeps you both healthy.
Apart from creating a stimulating environment, other things to keep in mind as cats age:
Keep sleeping and eating areas accessible
Ensure physically challenging areas are adjusted for the cat’s accessibility.
Schedule regular checkups at the veterinarian
Keep up with medications as necessary
Take note of behavior and habit changes and discuss with your veterinarian
You’ve got the larger role to play when it comes to helping your aging cat age successfully, understanding this would make it much easier for you and keep your cats healthier and give them a longer life to share with you.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, it is recommended that senior cats should be seen by a veterinarian at six months intervals.
This is because the rate of cat’s aging is faster compared to that of humans. Almost two “kitty years” may pass between visits to the Vet. Don’t let time be the reason your cat doesn’t get the care it needs.
It is essential to always monitor old cats in between their visits because they’re good at concealing symptoms of disease or illness. As they age, sicknesses become increasingly likely. Therefore, you should always be prepared that your aging cat might develop one or two conditions that would affect the quality of its life and its health status.
Below are some of the things the veterinarians examine during your cat’s wellness visit:
Detailed Habits and Behavior review
Bodyweight and general body condition.
Quality of the skin and coat.
Mouth, Teeth and Gum examination.
Examination of Eyes and Ears.
Detailed checkup on the thyroid gland.
Examination on the Heart and the circulatory system.
Examination of Lungs and Nose
Examination of the Joints and Muscles.
Review on physical condition changes since the last visit.
In addition, vaccinations against certain diseases, parasite prevention and treatment for a particular condition your cat may be developing will also be addressed during your cat’s wellness visit.
All the same core vaccines and lifestyle vaccines are required for older cats just like with kittens. See our page on vaccines for more information.
Feline nutrition Feeding is very essential throughout the life of a cat, but it is even more vital in the care for your aging cat. Feeding your old cat with age-specific diet has been reported to help in:
Elongation of Lifespan
Reduction of pain
Maintenance of healthy skin, coat, and bodily functions
Most of the times foods for aging cats are formulated specially to meet their nutritional requirements. Their food can be served in a dry or wet (usually canned) form.
Aging cats need more water daily so some canned food and leaving multiple water dishes around the house is a good practice. It is advisable to feed them smaller but more frequent meals (3-4 times a day). This helps them digest food more easily than serving them large meals twice a day.
Dental care is an important factor when it comes to aging in cats. Cats that go for dental checkups have a significant advantage in maintaining their health over time.
Dental disease develops slowly. It is a degenerative condition that comes with a lot of pain. Cats will rarely show obvious signs of discomfort even when they’re in severe pain.
Research has shown that most cats above four years of age are susceptible to some level of oral health issues may lead to acutely painful conditions.
The recommended interval between each dental checkup should be 6 months.
Aging cats are more susceptible to some chronic diseases. Below is the list of the diseases commonly known to affect older cats:
Arthritis and mobility issues
Effective disease management begins with early diagnosis. Take note of changes like:
Increase in thirst and urination
Litter Box Habits
Share your observations with your veterinarian to help diagnose and find problems early, so that you can make a difference in your cat’s health and longevity.
Over time, we all need to make various health decisions for our older loved ones. Discuss these issues with your veterinarian. We will work through any serious health issues and guide you accordingly.
Is your cat experiencing any pain and is this pain well managed?
Is your cat's appetite normal and are they able to eat normally?
Is your cat interacting with other pets and family members as usual?
Does your cat have more good days than bad days?
Does your cat follow predictable routines for sleeping, resting, grooming, eating, playing and socializing?
Our veterinarians are always ready to help you find answers to any of the questions you’re unable to answer.
It is always a difficult thing to make the decision of ending your cat’s life, but with the support of our veterinarian team, you will feel better about your decision to help your cat transition.
Our supportive veterinary team is always ever ready to aid you in any way that is in your and your cat’s best interests. We understand parting with your cat will be very hard. The grief process is real and should not be taken lightly. We always encourage you to seek out grief support, you do not need to go through it alone.
We take great pride in servicing our companion animal community. We believe that our pets are not just companions, they’re part of the family. Schedule your appointment today and let us help you keep your cat healthy in any stage of their life.