How will getting older impact the health of my cat?

Aging in cats can result in many changes, similar to humans. We can see slowing down, some nutritional changes, and increased likelihood of disease. Age is not a disease, but as we age we are more likely to have disease. This makes annual exams and screening tests really important so we can catch things early. Observation and looking for changes is the best way to help maintain those good years as long as possible.

Dr. Katherine Vissio
Briar Patch Veterinary Hospital

How do a cat's nutritional needs change as they age?

The nutritional needs of an aging cat depend on their activity level, body condition, and whether they have any underlying disease processes. It's great that we have nutritional options that we can use to manage disease processes, as cats aren't always the easiest to medicate. It's important to give them that food exclusively so that they can receive its health benefits. Nutrition certainly is the basis of a lot of health issues. If we manage their diet from the beginning as they start to age, we can often keep them healthier longer.

What are some signs and symptoms that my cat may be slowing down?

Signs of slowing down in a cat can include slower movement, stretching more, a limp that eases as they get moving, and lower jumping. You might also notice changes in thirst or urination, pacing, prowling, and changes in the mouth such as drooling or a bad smell. These can be things to watch for.

What kinds of preventative care can we do to help extend the life and health of my cat?

Preventative care involves annual exams where we check weight, temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, kidneys, intestines, bowel movements, and urination habits. We also discuss food and eating habits. We typically recommend annual blood work for senior cats to catch diseases like kidney disease, diabetes, and liver disease early. This allows us to implement treatment plans before the problem gets too big.

What is the most important thing to know about caring for your senior cat?

The most important thing is observation. You are with your cat all the time and know their behavior. Changes in habits are the most vital information you can provide to help us assist you. Despite the stress of a vet visit, we have ways to minimize stress and make the visit as comfortable as possible for your cat.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (607) 272-2828, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Cat Senior Care - FAQs

Dr. Katherine Vissio
Briar Patch Veterinary Hospital

What are some things I can do to make my aging cat more comfortable?

I recommend making sure your cat has a comfortable place to rest. This could be a covered area or a place up high, but it should have a cushion for their elbows and joints as they become more achy or bony with age. Preventing pressure sores is important, especially if they like to sit on hardwood floors or similar surfaces. Creating a pad, like a yoga mat, can be helpful. Additionally, ensure the litter box is easy for them to access. Arthritis can make it difficult for them to get into it, so a shorter entryway can help. Place these areas conveniently so they have choice. Having freedom of choice is crucial for their welfare. If they struggle to move around, place these areas closer together and away from the busiest part of the house, allowing them to remove themselves from activity if they choose.

How do I know if my senior cat's in pain?

Cats display pain in many different ways. It's not always obvious, but signs can include licking an area excessively, limping, or changes in behavior. Cats may not vocalize pain, especially with chronic or slowly developing conditions like arthritis. If they struggle to use the litter box or choose different areas in the house, or their mood changes, these could indicate pain. A physical exam and palpating the areas of the body is usually the best way to tell.

Does my senior cat need to be vaccinated?

We strongly recommend keeping your pets vaccinated or at least ensuring that their antibodies are at protective levels. Age is not a disease, but with aging comes an increased risk of disease. Vaccinations can protect against severe life-threatening diseases. We use the safest vaccines and offer vaccine titers. If your pet has been regularly vaccinated, you can check their titers to see if they still have the necessary protective levels of antibodies.

How do I know if my senior cat has a good quality of life?

Good quality of life is about knowing your cat and their behaviors. If they stop doing things they normally enjoy, like watching birds from the window or climbing their cat tree, it's something to pay attention to. Cats with a poor quality of life may retreat, become less interactive, or hide. This is individually tailored to your pet and should be discussed with your vet.

Why does my senior cat sometimes yowl at night?

Yowling could be a part of your cat's personality, but it can also indicate other issues like cognitive dysfunction, vision problems, or disease processes like hyperthyroidism which can increase vocalization. It's crucial to have them evaluated to determine what is normal behavior and what is not.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (607) 272-2828, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram