How old is old?
Advances in medicine have increased the mortality rate of humans. This is the same for animals too, that just like we humans need constant care when we reach our senior years so will your cat. The symptoms of ageing vary from cat to cat so it helps to know the signs and be ready.
Cats reach their senior years or are classified as such when they have lived for 10 to 13 years. You might think that’s not long but one year for a cat is 5 to 7 human years for them. Cats age quickly in their early years and slow down as they grow older. A 1-year-old cat is in our years 15! But, if your cat is 10 years old, he or she is around 56 years old? A cat who is 21 years old is 100 in our years.
What to look for.
Chances are, you have probably lost track of how long it’s been since your cat has seen the vet but a regular check-up can tell you if your elderly cat is showing signs of age and help prevent age-related problems by identifying them early. Make notes to take to your vet or better still do a video of anything you notice such as lameness or injury.
The vet will ask if you have noticed any changes with your cat. For example, cats are experts at hiding pain so look for changes in their activities or behaviour. One of the things often associated with old age that you should be aware of is the loss of sensory perception. As with us, their senses start to fail resulting in poor hearing loss of sight and balance. Any of these changes should also be noted and the vet made aware of.
Other symptoms you should look out for once your cat reaches senior age includes a significant increase or decrease in appetite, fluctuations in weight loss or gain, diarrhoea, vomiting, discharges, lameness lasting for more than 5 days in one leg, excessive panting, seizures, blood in the stool or urine, hair loss, persistent coughing or gagging and breathing heavily or rapidly at rest. A telltale sign that something is not right is a lack of grooming so pay attention to the condition of your cat’s coat.
Samples can be taken from your cat to diagnose any problems. These can consist of blood samples, urinalysis, and faeces. It is here that the veterinarian can tell if your cat is anaemic, has leukaemia, is a diabetic, has kidney problems, or has worms in the digestive system amongst other things
Studies show that one of the first things that does not work as well as it used to in a cat is the kidney as a result of hormone imbalance. If you notice that urine comes out while they sleep or they urinate more frequently, then there is something wrong. The good news is that this can be treated if it is detected early.
Senior cats can no longer eat the same high-quality diet as they used to in the past. They require specially formulated food that keeps their weight under control and helps reduce the consumption of nutrients that are risk factors in the development of diseases. Ask your vet to recommend a suitable senior cat food.
The second any of the above symptoms occur, you should take your cat straight to the vet because just like humans who have reached the golden years, senior cats need more attention especially when any of the above-mentioned symptoms present themselves.
This Meena! She’s our old girl.
For More information.
Cats Protection has excellent help and advice along with plenty of information regarding care for old cats.
PDSA are another excellent source of information.