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Senior Cats & The Golden Years

Beginning your pet’s life with health and happiness in mind paves the way for a high quality of life. Typically, cats enter their senior years between 8 – 10 years old. The natural aging process is inevitable, but senior cats are often very good at hiding pain, illness, and disease. That’s why it is important to keep a close eye on your senior cat’s behavior. Subtle changes may indicate a more serious issue. With the proper veterinary and at-home care, a cat can live a long, happy and healthy life into their late teens. Be the best pet parent you can be!

With this in mind, check out these common age-related conditions:

Obesity is a huge health concern. Aging cats become less physically active and their diet needs to reflect that to avoid excess calories. Obesity places great stress on a cat’s joints, puts them at risk for heart failure, kidney and liver disease, digestive issues and more. We typically recommend increasing fiber, fatty acids and vitamins in an aging cat’s diet while also lowering phosphorous, sodium, protein and fat.

Arthritis can cause minor stiffness to severe debilitation. The first signs of arthritis are subtle and can be something as simple as spending less time grooming. We commonly prescribe anti-inflammatory medication for pets suffering from arthritis to relieve pain and discomfort.

Intolerance to hot and cold temperatures happens when your feline friend begins to produce fewer hormones that regulate body temperature. We recommend moving their bed closer to a heat source. Also, if your cat goes outside, do not let them outside on colder days.

Tooth loss or decay makes eating much more difficult and puts your cat at risk for infection and tumors. Your kitty is very sensitive to tooth and gum pain, so brush and clean their teeth regularly to remove plaque and tartar, which prevents dental disease and gingivitis.

Constipation is a sign of hairballs or colon issues. If your cat is constipated, feed them a nutrient-rich diet with high fiber that is easily digestible.

Skin or coat problems occur when the skin begins to lose elasticity. As your cat’s hair thins and dulls, they become more vulnerable to injury. Something as simple as regular grooming helps your cat maintain their coat’s shine. You can also administer fatty acid supplements.

Chronic colds and infections are indicative of a weakened immune system. If your cat is frequently ill, schedule a visit so we can check for harmful diseases such as FIV/FeLV.

Increased thirst points to diabetes, kidney failure or hyperthyroidism. Based on the condition, your veterinarian may prescribe medication.

Decreased sense of smell may greatly diminish your cat’s appetite. We recommend giving your cat smaller portions of food throughout the day. In addition, look for specially formulated foods for senior cats that have stronger smells, or ask for your veterinarian’s recommendation.