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7 Common Health Problems in Senior Cats

Picture of a older cat outside

Cats experience aging in different ways. Some can show physical changes once they become 7-years-old, while others might show the first signs of aging around the age of 12. As natural as aging it might be, it can definitely take a toll on our feline friends and ourselves, as their guardians, too.

In this article, we will look at seven of the most common health problems experienced by senior cats. We’ll include some info on how you can prevent them, but we’ll also tell you what you can additionally do to make your feline companion’s life a lot easier as he or she becomes older. 

  1. Arthritis

Like people and dogs, cats can develop arthritis, especially if they are older than the age of 12. Some of the signs you might notice in an arthritic cat are a reluctance to jump on the furniture, climb the stairs, or run around and play. Some cats might pee outside their litter box because they can’t climb into it anymore.

If you have noticed any of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet and find out how you can alleviate her pain. Some cat guardians find that CBD can be quite effective, and it’s a natural alternative to giving your cat actual medication. 

  1. Dental disease

The majority of senior cats develop dental health issues due to plaque or tartar or periodontal disease. In theory, cat guardians should clean their cats’ teeth by brushing them on a regular basis. However, many of us know that brushing a cat’s teeth is more than challenging, if not impossible.

Preventing periodontitis can also be done with several types of snacks, and you can use a special oral disinfecting solution with tartar-eliminating properties. Instead of brushing your cat’s teeth, you could just wipe them gently with a cotton pad dipped into the solution. 

  1. Poor eyesight

Older cats are more exposed to developing health problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, or retinal detachment. Some of the symptoms that you might notice in these cases are eye cloudiness, lens whiteness, dilated pupils, or an inability of the cat to properly avoid obstacles. 

Most cats don’t have a lot of trouble going about their business even if their vision has deteriorated. After all, one of the strongest assets of a cat is her sense of smell. If you don’t move houses once your feline companion has become blind or has started to experience falling vision, it’s safe to say that your pet will continue to live a generally stress-free life. 

  1. Hearing loss

A cat’s hearing deteriorates as he/she ages – just like a person’s hearing does. While you can’t just go out and buy a hearing aid for your feline buddy, you can still find ways to communicate with your pet. 

Use your feet to transmit vibrations to your cat, establish a schedule where your cat learns when feeding time is, and you could even try your luck at teaching your cat hand signals, too. 

  1. Kidney disease

Senior cats can have problems with their kidneys. Keeping tabs on how your cat urinates, how often he/she ‘goes to the bathroom’ and whether you notice any changes in any way in this sense can make it possible for you to discover any urinary issues in their early stages.

Keep in mind that kidney failure is not reversible, so it can’t be treated once your cat develops it. However, a cat that does have kidney failure can survive for months or even years if she receives a therapeutic diet, medication, and subcutaneous fluid therapy.

  1. Hyperthyroidism

Older cats can develop hyperthyroidism, a condition where their thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). This disease is characterized by clinical signs such as excessive appetite, an increase in energy, irregular or fast heartbeats, and poor coat quality. 

There is medication readily available for feline hyperthyroidism, and other therapy options include radiation treatments, surgery, and changes in the cat’s diet. 

  1. Cancer

As frightening as it might sound, thirty percent of all cats that live to be older than 10 years of age end up being diagnosed with one type of cancer or another. One of the most common types is lymphosarcoma. 

Most of the time, a cat that suffers from this type of cancer has a low appetite, has lost some weight, and might have lumps or bumps under her coat. Some cats can also have a hard time urinating or defecating, eating or swallowing, or just be generally weak. Sores can take a lot of time to heal, and the cat has a somewhat unusual body odor. 

Since cancer is a really complex disease, you should make sure that you take your cat in for routine checkups on a regular basis. In many cases, cancer is treatable when it is discovered in its early stages. That’s why taking your senior cat to the vet often is recommended.

What else happens as my cat becomes a senior?

A senior cat’s immune system is less effective compared to that of a younger cat. That’s why you should pay attention to your older cat as much as you can. Old age makes it more difficult for him or her to fend off ordinary infections, and since most senior cats end up suffering from one kind of chronic disease or another, a cold or urinary infection can be an unnecessary complication that your cat definitely doesn’t need.

Senior cats can be thinner and lose their appetite as they become even older. This might not necessarily happen because there’s something wrong with your feline friend, but because old cats are known to lose part of their sense of smell as they age. This means that food is less appealing to them. 

There are changes that you might notice in terms of how your cat’s coat looks, as well. Unlike younger feline friends, older cats don’t groom themselves as often. This can result in hair matting or skin odor. 

What you might not know is that some senior cats become a little senile or develop dementia, just like some humans do, as well. Elderly cats might wander, meow too much, be a little disoriented or avoid social interaction. You could also notice that the cat has changed her sleeping patterns or has started to sleep a lot more.

Final thoughts

One of the most important things when it comes to making sure that your senior cat lives for many more years and is happy and healthy is responsibility. A cat guardian needs to make sure that they pay attention to their pet as much as possible. Regular checkups are required to ensure that the cat’s health is on par even as she becomes older.

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