Senior Cat Care in your Vail Valley Pet
Here at Mountain Mobile Vet And The Animal Hospital Center, we see many aging cats. So often I find clients asking, “what can I do for my cat now that he is old?” or “what can I expect to see in my older cat?”
There’s a saying that goes something like “We don’t own cats, we are instead their servants”. I feel that every cat would agree that no one “owns” them however I feel that they do indeed love being cared for. Making sure that your cat is cared for is especially important in older cats.
Preventative care exams or “kitty check ups” are recommended at least once a year for all cats and more frequently for those cats that are geriatric (8+ years old) or have a chronic health condition. These visits are essential in order to maintain your healthy cat’s current health and give you the opportunity to discuss behavior, nutrition, lifestyle and preventative care recommendations.
An exam on your older cat tends to be more extensive than that of a younger animal. Your veterinarian may recommend bloodwork and a urine test – these things are important in determining if your cat is at risk for disease. The most common diseases that we screen older cats for include hyperthyroidism, kidney disease and diabetes. These can all be spotted by running bloodwork and via a thorough physical exam.
Hyperthyroidism is when a cat’s thyroid is overactive. Your thyroid controls your metabolism, therefore a cat with an overactive thyroid has an overactive metabolism. This isn’t good for you cat, nor does it make them feel good. Cats with hyperthyroidism tend to have a poor, greasy haircoat, and tend to be thin in the face of eating more. We can detect an overactive thyroid via bloodwork and it is treatable.
Kidney disease is unfortunately extremely common in our domestic cats. This disease often takes months to years to develop and unfortunately, since cats aren’t good at letting us know when something is wrong, we don’t detect it until it is quite advanced. Things to look for that may indicate kidney disease in your cat include a decreased appetite, weight loss, an unkempt haircoat and excessive drinking. There is nothing we can do to prevent this from happening however, there certainly are things we can do to slow down the progression and make your cat more comfortable. Things such as a special diet, appetite stimulants and sometimes medications are all recommendations your veterinarian may make. Bloodwork and a urine test are what are used to detect this and are recommended yearly in all cats.
Diabetes is quite common in older cats and happens when their body stops producing a sufficient level of insulin. This causes your cat to not feel well – their clinical signs may include lethargy, weight loss, increased drinking, increased urination and a changed appetite. Diabetes is treatable and is quite common in cats that are overweight.
Many diseases, if caught early, can be treated or slowed down so it’s important that you visit the veterinarian twice yearly with your older cat. There are other diseases and conditions that cats can experience so a thorough exam is always important. Visit your veterinarian and we can make sure you cat is in tip-top shape!