With age comes a higher risk of certain diseases. The diseases we see more frequently in older cats are hyperthyroidism, renal failure, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and lymphoma. While these chronic systemic diseases are common in senior cats, the signs are sometimes vague and often mistaken for simple aging. Unfortunately many cats do not show symptoms until the disease is advanced, making any treatment more difficult and less likely to be successful. If we are able to diagnose the disease when the signs are mild, or before a cat is showing signs, we have more options for helping the patient live longer and feel better. In most cases, treatment is less expensive and the cat’s quality of life is higher when a diagnosis is made while the disease is still in the early stages.
Some of the symptoms of disease that have traditionally been considered normal aging in older cats are weight loss, increased urination and/or drinking, decreased activity, and hairballs. These can actually be big red flags that something is wrong. If any of these symptoms are occurring in your older cat, we highly recommend your furry friend have a complete physical exam including lab work.
While all pets, like people, age at different rates, most cats are considered senior starting around 10 years old. We recommend the following for senior cats:
- Senior wellness physical examinations every 6 months
- Screening tests yearly
- An exam any time weight loss or an increase in drinking and urinating are noted
By following this protocol, we are able to compare results from previous tests, track changes, and diagnose problems early. Although the diagnosis of any one of these diseases can be heart-breaking, early intervention can greatly enhance the quality of your cat’s life in addition to prolonging it. Veterinarians now have options for treating and controlling all of these diseases. By keeping your senior cat up-to-date with wellness care, you are increasing the odds of your kitty companion having a longer, healthier life. So if your cat is 10 or older and has not been to see us lately, please make an appointment now.