How to Care For Your Aging Cat
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How to Care For Your Aging Cat

Be prepared for the transitions of your aging cat in order to provide them a long happy life. Aging is a normal process, with changes. The educated pet parent is aware of the necessary changes to keep your cat happy and healthy through their whole lives . . .

As your cats go through life, they encounter many changes, just like humans. However, the aging process is not a disease and being aware of what may happen to your cat can help ease the transition.  The glorious process of aging sometimes comes with unexpected aches and pains and changes in the way the body functions. It is a quite normal process and our pets do seem to age more gracefully than some of us. Cats are very graceful and it may be less apparent of your cat’s discomfort or the onset of illnesses due to the natural process of aging.

As your cat ages, their needs change. Certain illnesses can also afflict the more mature cat as well. The nutritional needs of your cat need to be monitored and possibly changed. Your aging cat tends to eat the same amount of food while being more sedentary, leading to obesity. An obese cat is prone to diabetes and can suffer from liver disease and urinary tract disease.

Dental disease is a big problem with the older cat. Most pet parents are not aware of the importance of at-home oral health care for your cats. Beginning an at-home routine to care for your cats’ teeth and gums should begin at a very early age to get your cat used to the healthy procedure. Without proper feline dental care, your aging cat can lose teeth. It also leads to tartar and plaque buildup which leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease. The bacteria associated with these diseases can get into the bloodstream and affect other internal organs. Now it becomes a major and possibly fatal problem.

Other medical conditions affecting the aging cat may be –

• Kidney disease is a common condition in older cats. Early detection is best for proper treatment, beginning with diet.

• The thyroid glands of the older cat can become overactive (hyperthyroidism), often due to a tumor, and can be effectively and successfully treated.

• Diabetes is very common in cats and sometimes cannot be completely controlled with diet alone. Insulin injections may be needed daily. However, some pet parents may be able to control their cats’ diabetes with oral medications and diet.

• Mature cats can suffer from high blood pressure. If left untreated, high blood pressure or hypertension can lead to blindness and heart disease. Sometimes underlying conditions such as kidney disease or hyperthyroidism can be the cause of hypertension. The condition is successfully treated.

• Aging cats can be prone to heart disease such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is enlargement or weakening of the heart muscle, and is also associated with hyperthyroidism and hypertension. Early detection and treating the underlying conditions can slow the progression of heart disease.

• Vomiting and diarrhea can be an indication that your cat is suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD may be linked to inflammation of the liver and/or pancreas. The condition can be treated with medication and diet.

• Older pets are prone to lumps and bumps on the body. Monitor your cat regularly for early detection to be sure the masses can be removed by your veterinarian.

• Lymphosarcoma is a very common cancer affecting the senior cat. Prognosis and treatment will depend upon the location and early detection. Your veterinarian will devise a treatment plan of possibly surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation to increase your cats’ quality of life or maybe even find a cure.

• Anemia can be another common problem in the aging cat which is also coupled with kidney disease, cancer, chronic disease and primary bone marrow disorders. Your cat will become very weak and without treatment may become seriously ill.

It is so important to bring your cat in for routine veterinary checkups as he/she ages. So many things are changing with your cat and it is imperative to be able to detect any problems in the earliest stages. Preventative measures can help you to provide the best, longest, happiest life for your beautiful feline family member.

 

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Comments (1)

Excellent summary! I lost my 19-year-old cat this year, and was happy that with good vet care, she lived to see such an old age. But the routine preventative care is key, and I believe no one should own an animal if they lack the incentive or ability to provide care. Voted and appreciated.

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