It is true that age itself is not a disease, but there are certainly some health changes that occur in senior cats, just as we experience changes in ourselves. Sleeping patterns, urination and defecation problems, hair coat changes (greasy fur, dandruff, inability to groom well), and mobility (struggling to jump on and off furniture) are just a few examples of things you may observe as your feline family member ages. While it can be easy to associate these changes with being "normal" for an older pet, these symptoms can be just the surface presentation of underlying abnormalities. Sometimes the progression of these changes in behaviour or health are so slow that we also gradually get used to them and pass them off as "old cat" issues. This is why semi-annual (and at minimum annual) wellness examinations with a veterinarian are so important!
Cats are generally considered senior at around 10 years of age. At Wascana Animal Hospital, our veterinary team emphasizes some of the special care our senior cats may need during annual wellness exams. We want to make sure that we are addressing any nutritional, mobility or health concerns to support your cat as they age. Our veterinarians will often suggest having blood work and urinalysis performed as part of the senior wellness exam for these cats. Many senior cats that 'appear' healthy, may in fact be in the early stages of chronic kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid abnormalities or arthritis. Early identification is key and allows us to make the biggest impact on managing these diseases before your feline family member becomes severely ill or painful.
Many options now exist to help our senior cats age gracefully that weren't available in the past. At Wascana Animal Hospital we offer comprehensive options that are not solely based on conventional medications; we will discuss nutritional support (diet options and supplements) as well as behavioural and husbandry changes that can make all the difference for a cat having elimination issues, to even acupuncture for certain conditions! We look forward to meeting your senior feline family member and partnering with you to provide exceptional care!