Cat Senior Care - What You Should Know About Caring For Your Senior Cat

How will getting older impact the health of my cat?

As your cat gets older, they will have different requirements, and they will probably slow down because most kitties have arthritis as they get older. They can also develop diseases, so it's really important that you watch for hiding behavior, lethargy, lack of grooming, and changes of appetite or thirst.

Dr. Catherine MacLean
Sugar River Animal Hospital

How do a cat's nutritional needs change as they age?

As cats age, their nutritional needs can change. A lot of times they start losing muscle mass, so it's really important that we consider a higher fat and calorie content diet for some cats, not all cats. And if they develop a disease such as kidney disease, sometimes we have to change their diet as well.

What are some signs and symptoms that your cat may be slowing down?

Watch for hiding and not jumping up or down from things that they used to. Trust me, if you have not trained your cat to not jump on your counter after 10 years and they stop doing it, it means that they probably have arthritis. Also, just watch for them not eating well and not drinking well. Those things can be signs that things are changing for them.

What are some health complications or diseases that are commonly experienced by senior cats?

Diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, and sometimes cancer are probably the most common things we see in kitties.

Why are wellness exams and regular checkups important for senior cats?

Wellness exams are super important for senior cats because it allows us to monitor their weight every year, just check them over, discuss any concerns you might have, sometimes things that don't seem like a big deal to you are actually a big deal. So it's really important that they come in at least once a year to see us.

What tests might senior cats need?

Wellness blood work is the most important test that we do in older cats because it checks underlying functions of their body. It checks all their major organ functions, and it checks their thyroid level, urine, and their red and white blood cells and platelets. A lot of times cats will hide diseases until it's critical. For instance, with kidney disease, they lose 75% of their kidney function before they actually show clinical signs.

What is the most important thing to know about caring for a senior cat?

The most important thing to know is to just kind of really watch them. It's usually subtle things that show that they're not feeling well or things are changing for them. They're great masters of hiding disease. We have a 19-year-old kitty in our house. Last summer he stopped grooming himself because he was really arthritic. There's actually a new arthritis drug on the market since last fall and it's been a game changer. Luckily we don't have to try to groom him anymore and he's a lot more comfortable. But if you notice the hiding or the changes in appetite or just something doesn't seem right, please call us to discuss because it probably is something that is off. It's better to be pretty proactive than to try to catch up. If your cat stops eating well for a couple days, definitely call us because cats that are not eating get themselves really sick and in trouble very quickly. If you have questions or concerns or you want to talk about your senior pet, please call us. Also, if taking your cat to the vet's office is stressful, we have medication that can help with that so it's a more pleasant experience. If your pet is bad, it just means it's stressful and they're not handling it well, and that's okay. We have to actually medicate our 19-year-old cat because he's really not pleasant when I bring him to work. So if you want to discuss your pet's care as they get older, please give us a call at Sugar River Animal Hospital.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (603) 287-1181, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram