As the healthcare for cats has gotten better due to a combination of vaccinating with great nutrition our feline housemates have been living longer. A longer life is great but comes with its own hurdles to go over. What happens to these kitties as they get older is a myriad of things.
Lenticular sclerosis: They need bifocals but won’t wear them.
Arthritis: Slowing down, hesitating when jumping. 90% of all felines have arthritis observed on x-rays if they are older than 12 years old. At 9 years of age, 50% have arthritis. Your older cat is tougher than you think. They just won’t limp when they walk unless it is almost unbearable.
Dental Disease: They have teeth that wear out and get infected. They don’t make kitty dentures yet but the need for good oral hygiene is real.
Hypertension: I have heard cats claim it is from the stress of constantly not being fed “on-time” however the research does not back them up. It can be from heart disease or primary hypertension and is a real problem.
Thyroid Disease: Causes vomiting, weight loss, kidney disease, B12 deficiency, and constipation. A cat that loses weight (without us helping them) is a sick cat.
Kidney Disease: Those little urine makers (otherwise known as kidneys) are filters and those filters over time can wear out, become clogged or get infected.
Low B12: Their intestines stop absorbing it well. It happens to the best of them.
So how do we monitor our older cats for these diseases and problems: With semi-annual exams and annual blood work. Plus teaching you, the cat’s butler, (our clinic cats calls us the “underlings”) how to spot or prevent sickness.
The Healthy Cats for Life program is sponsored by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). Their new recommendation of semi-annual wellness exams in cats of all ages in order to increase the opportunity to detect illness in cats. We also want to teach people about the ten subtle signs of sickness in cats: www.healthycatsforlife.com.