Thanks to better care, pets are living longer now than they ever have before, but as pets get older, they need extra care and attention. Regular veterinary examinations can detect problems in older pets before they become advanced or life-threatening, and improve the chances of a longer and healthier life for your pet.
Many cats begin to encounter age-related physical changes between seven and ten years of age, and most do so by the time they are 12. The commonly held belief that every "cat year" is worth seven "human years" is not entirely accurate. In reality, a one year old cat is physiologically similar to a 16 year old human while a two year old cat is like a person of 21. For every year thereafter, each cat year is worth about four human years.
These are only some of the problems that you can see in your senior cat. This is by no means a complete list.
Cartilage between your pet's joints acts as a buffer to protect the bones from damage. When that cartilage is damaged, it can cause joint inflammation, swelling, stiffness & pain. Symptoms may include limping, change in gait, reluctance to move, aversion to stairs, difficulty standing or walking & exhibiting pain when picked up.
2. Gait changes
Gait changes can vary from limping, knuckling, uncoordination, lameness, limb weakness & arching of the back.
Cancer becomes more prevalent in cats as they age. It is important to notice if your cat has any lumps or bumps on their body, changes in weight, sores that heal slowly, bleeding from the mouth, nose or ears. You may also see drooling, coughing, excessive panting, difficulty eating, and extreme tiredness.
4. Organ disease
-Diabetes is caused from poor production and functioning of insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas. Insulin’s job is to help move glucose from the blood into the body’s cells where it is then used for energy.
-Kidneys remove waste and maintain balance in the body. When kidneys lose their ability to perform, waste and toxins can build up in the body and wreak havoc. Kidney failure is a common disease in older cats, and its symptoms are extremely varied
5. Behavior changes
As cats age, you may see changes in their personality & behavior. Some cats will mellow out, while others may become more aggressive or seek attention less often.
6. Weight gain
With age, cat's metabolism slows similar to humans. They sleep more, play less, & if they continue to eat the same amount of food at meal time, they will gain weight. That is why it is so critical to keep an eye on your pet's body condition score. Weight gain can lead to more senior problems such as arthritis, diabetes, & gait changes.
7. Memory loss
Dementia or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is a medical condition that causes memory loss, personality changes, confusion and disorientation. Alzheimer’s disease in humans is almost the same as CDS. Senior cats with CDS may even forget tricks, their name, and spend long periods of time staring blankly into space. Pacing is also common, as well as other repetitive, compulsive behaviors like walking in circles.
8. Gum disease
Plaque and tartar can build up over the years, particularly if teeth aren’t brushed or professionally cleaned on a regular basis. If this happens, it can lead to gum inflammation & disease. It can hinder your pet's ability to eat & chew properly, maintain a healthy body condition, & can even abscess causing infection.
If you are seeing any signs of senior pet problems, or just have questions, please feel free to contact our clinic to schedule an appointment.
Don't forget....Age by itself is not a disease. Although senior pets may develop age-related problems, good care allows them to live happy, healthy and active lives in their senior years. Work closely with your primary veterinary clinic & their staff to ensure the best care for your pets in their later years.