Cats Protection Inverurie
Senior Cat Care
Cats protection Inverurie


Approximately two-thirds of cats in the UK are senior felines -- i.e. aged eight or over. Cats are now living longer, with many reaching fifteen and beyond. An owner who rehomes a senior cat can enjoy many years of feline friendship, provided puss is kept in good health. Older cats need regular veterinary check-ups, as early detection of old-age diseases can help them glide gracefully into their autumn years.

Signs of feline ageing

  • Pace of life slows down. A mature cat is usually content to spend more of his time snoozing and watching the world go by. He may still enjoy some gentle play; however, with decreased agility, access to his feeding and resting places may have to be made easier for him.
  • Weight changes and associated changes in appetite. Middle-aged spread through overfeeding and under-exercising eventually gives way to increased boniness. Senior cats can become finicky eaters, as their sense of taste of smell and taste deteriorate with age. Some health conditions can be helped by feeding special prescription diets.
  • Dull coat and change in grooming habits. A senior cat is more susceptible to the cold and wet so he may want to spend more time indoors in a warm, comfy place. Being less supple, he may need help with grooming, such as a regular brush or comb.
  • Loss of senses. A senior cat’s sight and hearing may gradually deteriorate. He will compensate by relying more on his sense of smell to guide him through life.
  • Chattiness. Senior cats are often more talkative then younger cats. As they spend less time in physical activities, they have more time to express their opinions.
  • Increased thirst. Although senior cats tend to drink more water, dramatically-increased thirst can indicate kidney problems or cystitis.
  • Behavioural changes. Most cats become more sociable as they grow older, although a few can be described as cantankerous. Sudden mood changes can be a sign of illness.

When to visit a vet

Many vets recommend that mature cats have a check-up every six to 12 months. Cats can be adept at disguising symptoms of illness. As with all pets, a senior cat should be taken to a vet without delay if there are concerns about his health, as it is more effective to treat problems early. Diagnosis and treatment can be made more difficult, since older cats frequently have more than one health problem at a time.

A vet should investigate any of the following symptoms in an older cat:

  1. Constipation or diarrhoea despite a balanced diet.
  2. Unexplained or frequent vomiting.
  3. Excessive thirst.
  4. Loss of appetite or excessive appetite.
  5. Sudden weight loss.
  6. Frequent urination.
  7. Lumps and bumps on the cat’s skin.
  8. Dental problems.
  9. Looking off-colour.
  10. Sudden collapse.

Common senior cat illnesses

1. Dental disease
Symptoms: Difficulty in eating, trouble grooming, yellow or brown scale, inflamed gums and mouth ulcers.

· Older cats are more prone to dental problems such as loose teeth, build-up of tartar on teeth and sore gums (gingivitis). It is advisable to check a senior cat’s teeth and gums regularly and have an annual dental check-up at the vet’s. Early detection may prevent secondary problems and save puss a lot of discomfort.

· Many owners report that their cat has taken on a new lease of life following dental treatment. Although a general anaesthetic is more risky in older cats, this should not prevent treatment being carried out as long as reasonable precautions are taken.

· After treatment, preventative measures including regular brushing and the use of dental gels (especially formulated for felines) are recommended.

2. Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Symptoms: Hypertension is a silent disease. Cats do not appear ill until the disease is well progressed. Symptoms include: sudden onset of blindness, weight loss, excess drinking and urinating, vomiting, a change in appetite and fast heart rate.

· High blood pressure can be primary, where the cause is unknown, or secondary to other problems, namely hyperthyroidism, kidney disease and diabetes mellitus. Any cat that has been diagnosed with one or more of these diseases should be monitored for hypertension every three to six months to enable treatment of the problem before it causes blindness.

· Various drugs can help to control hypertension. Diuretics, certain heart drugs and medication that acts directly to dilate the blood vessels are used.

3. Chronic renal (kidney) failure

Symptoms: The signs of renal failure can be quite variable, with the most common including weight loss, poor hair quality, bad breath, variable appetite, lethargy and depression, increased drinking and urination, vomiting and diarrhoea.

· Renal failure is one of the main causes of premature death in cats. However, an early diagnosis of this condition increases a cat’s chance of living a long life.

· Once kidney disease is diagnosed, it is very important to adjust a cat’s diet. Prescription diets available from a vet are designed to reduce phosphorous and provide a readily-metabolised protein source. As cats with renal failure are susceptible to dehydration, it is important that they have constant access to water.

· Daily medication can be prescribed to cats to treat renal disease, as well as increase their appetite and improve quality and length of life.

4. Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms: Loss of weight whilst maintaining a normal or increased appetite, excessive drinking, hyperactivity, irritability, intermittent bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. Symptoms are unlikely to be recognised overnight, as the disease is progressive.

· Hyperthyroidism is a very common disease in cats aged six or over and develops as a result of over-secretion of a cat’s thyroid hormones. Typically, a cat with this disease will be aged 12 to 13.

· It shares symptoms associated with other chronic conditions, such as kidney and liver disease, as well as diabetes. Once diagnosed, hyperthyroidism can be relatively easily treated with radioactive iodine therapy which is up to 90% successful. Other forms of treatment include lifelong medication or surgery to remove the affected thyroid lobes.

5. Diabetes mellitus

Symptoms: Increased hunger and thirst with accompanying weight loss. Increased urination.

· Diabetes mellitus is caused when the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin. As a result, a cat’s body cannot control its blood sugar levels. Overweight cats of both sexes, as well as unneutered female cats, are at increased risk of suffering from this disease.

· Diabetes mellitus can be stabilized with fluids and medications, with daily insulin injections and diet management being the most common form of treatments.

6. Cancer

Symptoms: Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow, sores that won’t heal, weight loss, appetite loss, bleeding or discharge from any orifice, offensive smell, difficulty eating or swallowing, loss of stamina, persistent stiffness and difficulty breathing.

· Early cancer detection is important, since veterinary screening tests for specific types of cancer aren’t yet available.

· As the popularity of cats increases, the care of feline cancer patients is becoming increasingly common amongst vets. Advances in feline oncology have increased survival times, improved treatment response and prolonged disease-free times. Many cats with cancer can be cured or rendered free of disease for significant amounts of time.

· Feline cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) improves diagnosis and immuno-augmentive therapy is used in some cases.

REMEMBER – early detection of any problems with puss’s health is the best option for a long and healthy life. Cat owners with concerns about their pet’s health should therefore visit a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.