VETERINARY SERVICES | SENIOR CAT CARE
Do you have an older cat? When is a cat truly a senior citizen? The answer is that there is no specific age at which a cat becomes “senior.” Individual pets age at different rates. As a general guide, however, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has suggested the following age ranges:
- Mature to middle-aged: 7 to 10 years
- Senior: 11 to 14 years
- Geriatric: 15+ years
With a focus on wellness and preventative care, all of us at Cascade Summit Animal Hospital are here to help you and your senior cat through every life stage and to support you when your cat reaches their senior years. Knowing the general age of your cat can help you monitor him or her for early signs of any problems. Cats are masters at hiding any sign of illness, so health problems may appear quickly. You can help us keep your cat healthy by keeping a close eye on your senior cat between exams.
Health Issues in Senior Cats
As cats age much more rapidly than people do. Age-related diseases and chronic illnesses are part of living with an older cat. Early diagnosis and treatment of these illnesses are critical to your cat’s long-term health and quality of life. Unexplained weight loss or weight gain is often an early sign of underlying disease. Behavior problems also become more common as pets age. If you note any changes in your cat’s behavior (e.g., unusual cries) or regular routines, such as grooming or litter box habits, please call us and bring your cat in for an exam.
We recommend bi-annual (every 6 months) exams for your senior cat. Regular senior wellness exams will give us an opportunity to discuss any age-related changes your pet may be experiencing. Please contact us immediately if you notice any of the following signs in your cat:
- Sustained, significant increase in water consumption or urination
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Significant decrease in appetite or failure to eat for more than two days
- Significant increase in appetite
- Repeated vomiting
- Diarrhea lasting over three days
- Difficulty in passing stool or urine
- Change in litter box habits
- Noticeable decrease in vision
- Open sores or scabs on the skin that persist for more than one week
- Foul mouth odor or drooling that lasts more than two days
- Increasing size of the abdomen
- Increasing inactivity or amount of time spent sleeping
- Hair loss, especially if accompanied by scratching or if in specific areas (as opposed to generalized)
The Senior Cat Wellness Exam
During your cat’s senior wellness exam, we will obtain a complete medical history for your cat and to determine if there have been any changes in health or behavior since the last visit. We will give your cat a comprehensive physical exam and check for signs of arthritis or muscle weakness, and perform a visual dental examination. The exam will include internal/external parasite prevention and heartworm prevention. We may recommend additional testing to check your cat’s blood for signs of disease and to assess your cat’s kidney and liver function:
- Blood pressure
- CBC (complete blood count )
- CHEM screen (liver and kidney function )
- T4 (thyroid function)
Additional tests may be required for your cat, depending on the results of routine screening tests. Which tests are necessary and how often they are performed are different for each cat.
Senior Cat Wellness Plans
We are now offering a variety of wellness plans for our patients. We feel that this is an exciting new option for owners who would like to pay for care on a monthly basis. All plans are tiered – with the next level including everything in the plan below it, as well as additional services and discounts. Please visit our Senior Cat Wellness Plan page for more information.
Weight Management and Your Senior Cat
Weight management and proper nutrition are important for your senior cat. The best food for your senior pet depends upon his or her age, health status, weight and breed. Obesity is a very common problem of older pets, and should be taken seriously. It can lead to a number of health problems and increase the risk of age-related diseases your senior pet is susceptible to including heart, liver, kidney or joints disease. During your senior cat’s wellness exam, we will discuss your cat’s weight and proper nutrition with you.
Important Tips to Consider for your Senior Cat:
- Do wellness blood screening while your cat is still young – the results provide excellent baselines for future comparison and will help us recognize any trends early on.
- Check them over regularly from the tip of their head to the tip of their tail for any lumps or bumps. It’s a great idea to keep a journal of your findings, noting the location, size, color and texture of the lumps and bumps.
- Keep a journal of any changes in behavior such as difficulty getting up, changes in sleep patterns or lapses in litter box use. This will help determine whether these are intermittent or ongoing problems, as well as their duration.
- Remember that “slowing down” isn’t always just a symptom of age, and it may mean your pet is experiencing pain. Talk to us about this – while we can’t turn back the clock, there are many options for managing pain.
- Know your pet’s ideal weight, and work hard to keep him or her slim. Allowing your pet to gain weight will compound and/or create health problems. If your pet is overweight, talk to your veterinarian about dietary management.
- Regular exercise and mental stimulation is very important – don’t let your senior cat become couch potatoes!
All of us at Cascade Summit Animal Hospital is here to help you and your cat through every life stage. Please contact us to schedule your cat’s senior wellness exam and with any questions you have about your cat’s healthcare.