Cats are much less dramatic and demanding than some other pets and this is reflected in their aging process. It creeps up on them slowly and isn’t always easy to spot as an owner, but being aware of the signs of some of the ailments that could slow down your cat will help you to keep them comfortable as their age increases. Depending on their breed, cats are generally thought of as being ‘senior’ once they reach 10 years old and are classed as geriatric between the ages of 12 and 15.
Many of the ailments associated with aging in humans, such as arthritis, hearing loss and poor eyesight can also affect older cats. Additionally, it’s possible for your cat to develop more serious conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease or cancer, much like a human can as they reach their senior years. It’s important to visit your veterinarian regularly as your cat ages as a professional may be able to recognise the signs of these conditions before you would.
You may notice that your cat begins to move a bit slower and jump around a bit less as they get older. Maybe they’re struggling to jump down from the sofa or get up the stairs, or even climb into their litter tray. This may be more than just a sign of old age. Arthritis is a much more common ailment in cats than many people realise. If you notice any stiffness, talk to your vet and they will help you to manage your cat’s pain.
Many cats start to lose weight as they get older as their taste buds start to deteriorate, their sense of smell lessens and their digestion slows down. But this can also be a sign of other diseases such as cancer so it’s important for you to keep an eye on what they’re eating. You may just need to offer smaller meals more frequently but if you notice a change in appetite then it’s a good idea to seek your vet’s advice so they can rule out any other potential issues.
A less obvious problem is hyperthyroidism. This issue is hard to detect because the symptoms are things that we usually associate with being in good health, for example, increased energy and excessive appetite, although this is often accompanied by weight loss which may give you some clues. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that affects the thyroid gland and if left untreated, can lead to heart failure, blindness and even death.
Being able to detect the signs of old age and illness early on will hopefully mean that you cat not only lives to a ripe old age but also does so in a comfortable manner.