Cats are complex but simple creatures. This is something we can use to our advantage as we approach their medical care as they age. The intention of this blog is to help guide lifestyle changes, direct your attention to common symptoms in our geriatric cats, and provide a brief diagnostic plan.
In feline medicine, we label kitties as geriatric around 8 – 10 years of age. Starting at this age we recommend the following:
At Home Care
- Switching to predominantly wet food (Brands: Hills, Royal Canin, Purina)
- High quality protein & senior focused diet
- Add fish oil to diet: Recommended Fish Oil
- Purchase a baby scale (weigh every 1 – 2 weeks): Baby Scale Link
- At home dental care: Veterinary Dentist Approved Products
- Add a dripping water fountain: Water Fountain Link
- Fill multiple styles of water dishes around the house (cups, bowls, etc…)
- Clean the cat box daily
- If any signs of arthritis add a joint supplement: Recommended Joint Supplement
Symptoms to Monitor
- Increased drinking & urinating
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Increased appetite or energy
- Behavior changes (grooming, vocalization)
- Coughing or sneezing
- Lethargy or decreased appetite
- Weight loss
The most common diseases we see in aging kitties include: kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, intestinal parasites, pancreatitis, heart disease, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and unfortunately intestinal lymphoma. While it is common for kitties to encounter many of the conditions described above, they are much more manageable if we catch them early.
Recommended Veterinary Care
- Exams every 6 – 12 months
- Continue vaccinations every 1 – 3 years (lifestyle dependent)
- Annual blood panel, urinalysis, fecal test, and blood pressure check
Many of these conditions can be quickly ruled out utilizing a physical exam, blood work, urinalysis, and a fecal test. A common medical saying is “if you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras”; the sentiment is common conditions happen commonly. A large portion of our feline geriatric medical conditions can be diagnosed with our baseline diagnostics. It is important to note if our initial tests’ come back normal then we will need to dig a little deeper and consider diagnostic imaging (ultrasound & x-ray), and additional blood panels
Cats do not like change… when you’re thinking about changing something in your cat’s life I encourage you to put yourself in your cat’s shoes. Ask “Will my cat appreciate this change?”.
Unfortunately, the answer is NO 98.6 % of the time. This does not mean we can not change things in our kitties’ lifestyle or environment, but we should be calculated and slowly introduce our proposed changes.
*Note this blog is not an all-inclusive diagnostic plan for every patient.