Senior Cats

"A meow massages the heart" Stuart McMillan

Pets age alongside us. However, they do so twice as fast.

Most cats depending on their breed will be classified as 'senior' or 'mature' after around 7 years of age.

Better veterinary care is ensuring that companion animals are living longer and hopefully, healthier and happier lives. We want to maximise the time spent with your older cat and ensure this time is comfortable and well spent together.

Here at Johnston Street Veterinary Clinic we recommend twice yearly visits for our senior cats. This is a full health examination with one of our veterinarians, which assesses your cat’s overall wellbeing. Cats’ are stoic creatures and may not indicate any health concerns. However ailments such as arthritis can usually be detected early so twice yearly examinations can help us ascertain the best treatment plan for your older pet, should they need one. We can also perform in house pathology on site, which we highly recommend for our senior patients. An in-house blood test can help us monitor kidney and liver function which can be greatly impacted as your pet ages.

As your pet gets older it is beneficial to be aware of age-related diseases and how you as an owner can make their later years as comfortable as possible.

Provide appropriate nutrition There are many foods on the market so knowing what to feed cat pet can be quite confusing. There are foods specifically designed for senior pets which are scientifically proven and precisely balanced to sustain kidney and vital organ health, be easily digested, promote ideal body weight and help facilitate joint health. Ask one of our friendly nurses more about this.

Slowing down You may notice that your cat moves physically slower with age. Subtle changes can include hesitation when using stairs or physical changes like getting up slower or appearing stiffer after a snooze. Even urinating in different spots like the base of the shower or on the floor, could be a sign that your cat may have arthritis and the attempt to get into the litter tray, may be uncomfortable. To help your pet you can provide comfortable bedding and environmental modifications such as easy ground level access to food and water bowls for example. Arthritis is a common ailment that can be easily overlooked, but treatment could give your cat a new zest for life.

Periodontal health Mature cats can be prone to dental diseases which can cause great discomfort and may also lead to many health problems. If you notice smelly breath, reluctance to eat hard kibble, dropping of food whilst eating or inappetence this could indicate dental issues. We offer dental checks that can grade your pet’s oral health and diagnose if further treatment is necessary.

Grooming Cats groom themselves throughout their life, however as they age this might not be as easy as it once was. Senior cats may groom themselves less efficiently which can result in matted and dirty hair. Also due to senior cats being less active their nails may become overgrown. Check your cat’s nails regularly to ensure they do not become overgrown or uncomfortable. We perform nail trims at the clinic 7 days a week. Call the clinic to book this in or a nurse would be happy to show you how to do this at home.

Senses Like us, our pet’s senses deteriorate with age. Things like sight, sound and smell can be impacted greatly when our cat matures. Things such as being less responsive to vocal communication, not being as enticed to eat and the inability to visualize you or objects are usual indications that your cats’ senses could be declining. By bringing your senior cat in for twice yearly examinations, this allows us to monitor any changes in your pet’s senses.

Changes to appetite, thirst and toileting We can sometimes find a change in senior pet’s appetite, thirst patterns and or toileting habits that can be from a variety of different things. Some age-related illnesses can be form dehydration, so it is important to provide easy access to drinking water on flat surfaces and multiple bowls around the house. However, if you notice changes such as a dramatic increase or decrease in eating, drinking or urinating we would recommend a veterinary examination.

Feline Cognitive Dysfunction or Cat Dementia There has been a lot of research indicating that the behavior changes exhibited by senior cats are directly attributable to Feline Cognitive Dysfunction syndrome similar to the human form of Alzheimers. The most common signs attributable to FCD can include; not being as interactive socially with owners; the loss of learnt behaviours such as toilet training (eliminating outside litter tray or unusual areas); compulsive behaviours such as vocalization for no apparent reason, changes in appetite, confusion or disorientation such as staring into space or getting lost in corners and changes in sleep wake cycles such as increased day sleeping and restlessness at night. There are options of treatment which can greatly improve the quality of life for pets that are experiencing symptoms of FCD.

These old age problems can be successfully managed if veterinary help is sought. We are here to help you and your senior cat have the best quality of life that they can.

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