Cats are generally classified as senior when they are 7 years old. Just like us, cats are unique and individual care and maintenance as they age. Here are some general cat conditions and treatment options for senior cats.

Common senior cat conditions

Vet advice courtesy of Dr Helen Harvey BVSc from Greencross Vets Wishart Road.

Arthritis

Cats will develop a degree of arthritic change as the years go by, particularly if overweight or has suffered injuries in the past. The basic needs for an older cat’s musculo-skeletal system are:

  1. Provide warm soft bedding, particularly in the colder months (mattress, cat cube, blankets)
  2. Keep your pet’s weight stable or start weight reduction if overweight
  3. Try to keep your cat moderately active with a small amount of play for exercise daily.

If these measures are being taken and discomfort persists, then discuss with your vet the best course of action to make them more comfortable.

Bad breath

Bad breath generally indicates poor dental health. Poor diets, no chewing and ingesting bacteria from their coat while grooming all exacerbate dental health decline. Brushing your cat’s teeth will help to remove plaque and tartar build up. You can use a toothbrush specifically designed for cats or a child’s toothbrush but never use human toothpaste. There are dental treats also designed to eliminate bad cat breath. Regular dental checks are necessary so that your Greencross Vets can recommend a dental program when it is required.

Cloudy eyes

Cloudy eyes can indicate ocular problems and should always be checked by your Greencross vet. The most common old age eye problems are cataracts; however cats can suffer vision problems from high blood pressure affecting the blood vessels in the back of the eye. These conditions need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian.

Weight loss

Loss of general body condition with or without a good appetite, particularly over a short period, is worrying at any time. In older cats consideration must be given to the cause of the weight loss which could be changed dietary requirements, dental disease, poor kidney function, cancer and thyroid conditions.

Kidney failure

Cats are unfortunately prone to decreased kidney function as they age. Signs of this include weight loss, excessive thirst, poor coat condition, increased urination and bad breath from mouth ulcers. Once diagnosed with blood tests treatment includes dietary change, blood and urine monitoring and sometimes medication.

Overactive thyroid

This condition caused by an enlarged thyroid gland is usually associated with increased urination and increased appetite along with weight loss and regular vomiting.  Other signs include decreased ability to fight infection, rapid heart rate and developing a heart murmur. This condition is often diagnosed with blood tests. Treatment is often with medication or radiation treatment of the enlarged thyroid gland.

Diabetes

Diabetic cats often have increased appetites as well as increased water intake with little or no weight gain. Cats may also show signs of urinary tract infections such as blood in the urine or inappropriate urination. Typically diagnosed with blood & urine tests treatment includes specialised diets and insulin administration.

Lumps and bumps

Regularly brushing and grooming your cat will not only strengthen the bond with your pet but also help identify any new or unusual changes in your pets shape. A lump that changes in shape rapidly, appears to irritate your cat or must doesn’t look ‘right’ should be examined by your vet. In most cases microscopic examination after biopsy will be required.

Long toenails

When cats become less active toenails can grow so long that they grow back into the toe. Toenails, front and back, should have small amounts regularly trimmed to avoid injury. As this can be a difficult task to do at home, we have this service available at our Petbarn grooming salons and you can ask for assistance and advice from your local Greencross vet.