Caring for Senior Cats

image of a senior cat.

Thanks to advancements in veterinary care, today’s cats can live well into their teen years. It is not uncommon for cats to live to be 18 or even older. However, in order for cats to live a long full life, they need proactive veterinary care to stay healthy.

As cats age, they are at greater risk for chronic diseases and health complications. However, cats are also masters at hiding illness. Semi-annual veterinary appointments are the best way to monitor a cat’s well being. For a senior cat, six months can be the equivalent of two years – a number of health changes can happen during this period.

During a wellness exam, a veterinarian will check a cat’s weight and body condition, skin and coat quality, eyes, ears, thyroid, heart, lungs, joints, mouth and abdomen. A veterinarian may also conduct diagnostic blood work and parasite screenings. While physical changes are easily noticed (e.g., weight loss or change in coat quality), internal changes are more difficult to detect. Diagnostic tests provide an important snapshot of a cat’s internal health and can detect problems such as hyperthyroidism and kidney disease.

Feline hyperthyroidism and kidney problems are the most common health conditions affecting older cats. Hyperthyroidism affects many organs in the body, including the heart. Hyperthyroidism can lead to secondary heart disease as well as hypertension (high blood pressure). Kidney disease can also cause hypertension. Your veterinarian can check for this during your cat's exam. Blood tests during a semi-annual wellness screening are the best way to detect hyperthyroidism and kidney problems. With early diagnosis, medical treatments can be very successful in managing these disease. These are examples of why proactive veterinary care is so important for senior cats.

Wellness exams are also an opportunity to evaluate a cat’s dietary needs. As cats age, their nutritional needs change. For example, cats with kidney problems should have a diet low in protein and phosphorus. Less active cats may need to be fed less in order to prevent weight gain and obesity. Other cats may become disinterested in food, resulting in weight loss. Cats that lose their sense of taste and smell may also lose interest in eating. Unfortunately, gradual weight loss can also go unnoticed, especially for longhaired cats. This is why nutrition evaluations and regular weigh-ins are so important.

Just like humans, cats will have different wellness needs as they age. Some cats may need a special diet while other cats may need medication to manage a chronic disease. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations based on your cat’s wellness needs.

Sources:

American Association of Feline Practitioners. Friends for Life, Caring for your Older Cat.

Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine. Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

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Ocean Animal Clinic of Santa Cruz

Monday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

9:00 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

The Cat Clinic of Santa Cruz

Monday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

9:00 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "My well loved dog, Bella, was well taken care of with gentleness and excellent care. She is so much healthier after her dental treatment. I highly recommend Dr. Hall and his staff. They truly care and have exceptional communication regarding the recommended and provided care."
    Catherine
  • "Our little dog needed extractions. We found the Ocean Animal Clinic and Dr. Hall. They took fabulous care of him -- even including a nail clipping and ear check. Both the vet and the staff were open and transparent. The surgeon was top notch and the staff really cared about our dog and us. Our little guy bounced back quickly. All this for a lot less money than we feared as well. Highly recommended!"
    Terra
  • "Dr. Hall and the staff at Ocean Animal Clinic are truly unique. Most vets are compassionate but always peddling unnecessary expensive services and drugs. Dr. Hall is compassionate, direct and alternative. He really seems to be in tune with the animals.

    My baby, Harry, is ill and his prognosis is not what a mother wants to hear. But, Dr. Hall was so good with him and also our girl Roxy.

    Just a truly decent, loving Vet. Thank you."
    Jennifer
  • "The Ocean Animal Clinic staff have been caring for my adult turtles since 2011 and I cannot imagine trusting another veterinarian with their care. As a college student he was able to help me find ways to improve the care I provided my pets and his payment options (accepts CareCredit!) helped ensure that my pets received the medical attention they needed on time.

    I consider Ocean Animal Clinic a part of my family and would recommend their services to anyone without hesitation.

    Thank you, OAC!"
    Alejandra