Any surgery on an Senior cat should be carefully examined because there is a higher chance of secondary health issues. Your veterinarian will conduct a complete pre-operative examination to ensure that your cat’s internal health is in good working order.
As your cat approaches retirement, they’ll want a bit of additional patience as they adjust to their new lifestyle. Cats are generally considered geriatric after the age of 12, and there are several simple steps you can take to make sure your cat’s later years are comfortable and joyful. You’ll be rewarded with a happy pet who enjoys spending time quietly at home with you as a delightful companion.
Growing Older is not an Illness
Aging is a normal part of life. Age is not an illness in and of itself, despite the numerous complicated physical changes that come with it. Even though many diseases affecting elderly cats are incurable, they may usually be managed. Recognize and decrease elements that may be health concerns, detect the disease as early as feasible, correct or delay disease progression, and improve or maintain the health of the body’s systems are the keys to ensuring your senior cat enjoys the healthiest and highest quality of life possible.
What Happens to my Cat when She Gets Older?
Many physical and behavioral changes accompany the aging process:
- Older cats’ immune systems are less capable of fending off foreign invaders than younger cats’. Chronic diseases, which are frequently associated with aging, might exacerbate immunological dysfunction.
- Dehydration, a side effect of many disorders that affect elderly cats, reduces blood circulation and immunity.
- An elderly cat’s skin is thinner and less elastic, with poor blood circulation and a higher risk of infection.
- Older cats groom themselves less efficiently than younger cats, leading to matting, odor, and discomfort.
- Aging felines’ claws are frequently overgrown, thick, and fragile.
- In humans, aging alterations in the brain contribute to memory loss and personality changes, a condition known as senility. Wandering, excessive meowing, apparent bewilderment, and avoidance of social interaction are among characteristics that can be found in senior cats.
- Hearing loss is frequent in older cats for a variety of causes.
- Changes in the appearance of the eyes. Although a slight haziness of the lens and a lacy appearance to the iris (the colored component of the eye) are common age-related changes in cats, neither appears to reduce their eyesight significantly. Several disorders, particularly those linked to high blood pressure, can, nevertheless, substantially and irreparably damage a cat’s vision.
- Dental disease is persistent in senior cats, and it can make feeding difficult and painful.
- Although various conditions can cause a loss of appetite, in healthy elderly cats, a diminished sense of smell may be partially to blame for lack of hunger. The discomfort associated with oral illness, on the other hand, is a more frequent source of aversion to eating.
- As cats get older; their kidneys go through several changes that can reduce function; renal failure is a frequent condition in senior cats with a wide range of symptoms.
- Arthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is frequent in elderly cats. Although most arthritic cats may not appear visibly lame, they may have trouble getting to litter boxes, food, and water dishes, wildly if they must leap or climb stairs to get there.
- Hyperthyroidism; hypertension (high blood pressure, usually caused by either kidney failure or hyperthyroidism); diabetes mellitus; inflammatory bowel disease; and cancer are all conditions that, while occasionally seen in younger cats, become more common as they age.
Is My Cat Ill, or is it Simply Old?
Never assume that the changes you notice in your senior cat are due to old age and thus untreatable. Owners of older cats may detect behavioral changes in their cats, but they regard these changes to be an unavoidable and untreatable part of aging. Any change in your cat’s behavior or physical health, on the other hand, should prompt you to contact your veterinarian.
Changes in behavior can be caused by disease in practically every organ system and any illness that produces discomfort or impairs mobility. Consider the following scenario:
- A timid cat may not turn aggressive until discomfort (from dental illness, for example) or becomes less mobile (e.g., from arthritis).
- Increased urine production, typical in older cats (e.g., kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, or hyperthyroidism), might cause the litter box to become dirty faster than expected. Increased filth and stink may cause cats to eliminate in inconvenient places.
- If a condition like hyperthyroidism develops, many cats who do not mark their territory with urine may begin to do so.
- Cats with painful arthritis may have trouble getting to a litter box, especially if they climb stairs. Climbing into the box may be uncomfortable for particular cats, causing them to eliminate in inconvenient places.
- Because their ability to adjust to unexpected conditions lessens with age, older cats may be more sensitive to changes in the family.
Many owners regard aging as a “natural” process and believe that nothing can help their cat. In contrast, others are afraid of telling their vet about problems they’ve noticed in their older cat because they fear the physician will say it’s terrible and that the cat will have to be euthanized. However, these fears are frequently baseless, and your veterinarian is there to assist you in any way they can. It is critical to take your senior cat to the vet often to ensure that they are not in pain or suffering — there are various remedies available for many of the conditions. You’ll want them to be able to enjoy their golden years without pain. Healthcare that is preventative Elderly cats requires more frequent visits to the veterinarian than younger, healthier cats, especially if they exhibit any age-related symptoms or disorders. Your veterinarian can recommend how often they should be examined, and many practices now provide specialized “geriatric” clinics. Regular weight checks and booster immunizations are also crucial because cats’ immune systems can deteriorate with age.
Feeding specifications: There are many senior diets on the market that provide balanced nourishment for older cats. Freshwater should always be available in numerous areas throughout the house, both upstairs and downstairs. Smaller meals should be given often. Keep a close eye on your cat’s appetite, as it might fluctuate depending on a variety of health concerns. If your cat’s sense of smell deteriorates, it may result in a loss of appetite; try warming the food to intensify the scent and stimulate feeding. Consequences of Surgery Any surgery on an aged cat should be carefully examined because there is a higher chance of secondary health issues. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough pre-operative examination to determine your cat’s internal health. They can help you with any specific issues you have and recommend that diagnostic tests be performed first.
Grooming older cats who are stiff may find it more challenging to wash and groom themselves, resulting in a lower coat condition. You may need to support your cat by gently brushing him with a soft brush. Check their claws regularly because they may have trouble scratching to keep them in shape. Cat claws can develop thicker and longer as they age. Keep an eye on their claws to make sure they don’t twist into their pads. Your veterinarian can provide you advice on how to care for their coat and claws. If your cat is in pain or discomfort, be mindful that it may be sensitive to being touched or brushed in certain areas.
What can I do to Help my Elderly Cat Stay Healthy?
One of the most vital tools you have for keeping your senior cat healthy is close monitoring. You might want to do a basic physical assessment once a week. Would you please inquire with your veterinarian about how to do it and what to look for? Making the examination a natural extension of how you regularly engage with your cat will make it much more manageable. Gently elevate the upper lips with your thumb or forefinger while caressing your cat’s head or scratching its chin, for example, to examine the teeth and gums. You can also lift the ear flaps and check the ear canals in the same way. You may determine for abnormal lumps or bumps and assess the condition of your cat’s skin and hair while caressing its fur.
Brushing or combing loose hairs daily eliminates them, preventing them from being ingested and developing hairballs. Brushing also improves blood circulation and sebaceous gland secretions, which leads to better skin and coat. Because older cats may not utilize scratching posts regularly as younger cats, their nails should be checked weekly and clipped as needed.
Brushing teeth regularly
The single most effective technique to avoid dental disease in your cat is to brush its teeth with a pet-specific toothpaste or powder. Maintaining oral health is crucial since the dental disease is more common in older cats and can lead to other health issues. Most cats will allow you to wash their teeth, but you may need to gently introduce your cat to tooth brushing over several weeks or months.
As cats get older, they tend to gain weight and become obese. If your cat is overweight, you should consult with your veterinarian about changing his or her nutrition so that he or she can regain a healthy weight. Other cats, on the other hand, get too skinny as they age. Weight loss can be caused by several medical conditions, including kidney failure, and particular diets can assist manage these issues.
Because senior cats are less adaptable to change, they are reducing environmental stress whenever feasible is critical. Older cats who must be boarded for an extended period should be given special consideration. Having a known object, such as a blanket or toy, might help keep the cat calm in an unfamiliar situation. A better option is to have a neighbor, friend, or relative look after the older cat at home. Introducing a new pet to an older cat can be stressful, so it’s best to avoid it if at all possible. Moving to a recent house can be stressful; however, tension can be reduced by lavishing more affection and attention on the senior cat during times of emotional upheaval.
Cats, especially elderly cats, are masters at concealing disease. It’s not remarkable for a cat to have a significant medical problem and not exhibit any signs of it until it’s too late. Because most diseases are more effectively controlled when recognized and treated early in their course, it is critical for owners of elderly cats to keep a close eye on their cats’ behavior and health.
What can My Veterinarian do to Assist Me?
Regular veterinary examinations, like your observations, can aid in the early detection of disease. Your veterinarian may recommend that you evaluate your healthy senior cat more often than a younger cat. More frequent exams may be required if your cat has a medical issue. During your cat’s inspection, the veterinarian will take a detailed medical and behavioral history, perform a thorough physical examination to examine every organ system, and compare your cat’s weight and body condition to previous assessments. Specific tests, such as blood testing, fecal studies, and urine analyses, may be recommended at least once a year. This allows for the early detection and treatment of illnesses and the assessment of continuing medical issues. Both are required to keep your senior cat in the best health possible.
Should I Get a Senior Cat?
Older cats at shelters are a particular group of elderly cats who demand special attention. While most potential adopters are drawn to young cats and kittens because of their cuteness and playfulness, older cats are frequently neglected by those considering cat adoption. People who keep their minds open will discover many senior cats who would make wonderful pets and brighten up any home. Shelter cats are frequently calmer, have a higher likelihood of being litter trained, and can provide lovely company to anyone nice enough to accept them into their house. Take some time to look at these older cats the next time you’re at the shelter. Bringing them home can make your lives more prosperous, happier, and more fulfilling for both of you.