There are several medical conditions that are more common in senior cats. As your own cat gets older, you must keep an eye out for any sign of these diseases.
All cats are very good at hiding their illnesses which means they can be quite sick by the time they are treated. Here are some of the common conditions that affect a senior cat.
* Kidney disease. Age related changes to the kidneys can make them work less effectively. One of the first signs of kidney disease in your older cat is that he will start drinking excessive amounts of water. This has to come out the other end, so he will spend more time visiting his litter tray. As the disease progresses, he is likely to lose weight and start vomiting.
* Degenerative joint disease. This is another name for arthritis and it isn't easy to diagnose in cats. They tend not to show an obvious limp but instead are less likely to jump up onto the couch for a cuddle or step over the wall of their litter box. They may also have matted fur because they can't bend over to groom themselves properly.
* Dental disease. This is the one of the most common causes of your elderly cat losing his appetite. You may not notice anything obvious because some of the most painful tooth problems occur just at or below the gum line. Watch for any sign that your cat is dropping food out of his mouth or chewing on one side.
* Hyperthyroidism. This results from an overproduction of thyroid hormones and basically turns up your cat's metabolism. You'll notice your cat will be constantly asking for food (and eating it) yet will still lose weight. He will often show behavioral changes such as meowing a lot and toileting in strange places.
* Anxiety. Your older cat may start to lose his sight and hearing, and this can be stressful. He may take a while to adjust to changes around your home and he may become anxious about the things he can't see or hear. Another cause of anxiety and behavior changes in your older cat is dementia. Watch for excessive yowling, pacing or disorientation.
Studies suggest that three quarters of behavioral changes in older cats are due to an undiagnosed medical condition. If you notice any changes in your cat's behavior, have him checked by your vet straight away. These conditions can all be better managed when they are diagnosed early, leading to a happier and healthier life for your cat.
Article courtesy Dr Rosie Brown BVSc (Hons)
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