Cats tend to age more gracefully than dogs, but they still age. Eventually, they can’t jump to the top of the refrigerator or shelves in the family room. They tend to sleep more and their love for food gradually decreases. You can help your senior kitty enjoy their golden years. When you see your kitty start to have issues jumping into and out of the litter box, couch, beds, etc., it is time to talk with your veterinarian. Arthritis can be a concern in older cats. Medications, acupuncture and laser therapy can help. Laser Therapy reduces inflammation that results in pain reduction. It is also effective in treating acute pain, chronic conditions, and post-operative pain. Laser therapy treatment is safe, painless and fast. Pacific Animal Hospital offers Laser Therapy to our furry companions! LINK
As cats get older, you’ll also see increased or decreased sleep, avoiding human interaction, and dislike of being stroked or brushed. Some cats may experience behavioral changes as they age. Sometimes they’ll cry in the middle of the night, or won’t use their litter box reliably. They may seem confused or won’t relate to family members in the usual way. These can be signs of arthritis, dental disease, kidney disease, urinary tract infection or other health issues. Your veterinarian can advise the frequency of health checks that would best suit your cat, taking into consideration age and general health. Although it’s good to know your cat will be regularly examined, it shouldn’t prevent you from being a little more vigilant at home to spot the first signs that all is not well. There are a number of general warning signs that need attention, such as:
Loss of appetite, weight loss, drinking more often or drinking a larger amount per day, stiffness, lameness or difficulty in jumping up, lethargy, lumps or bumps anywhere on the body, balance problems, urine or stool accidents or difficulty passing urine or feces, disorientation or distress, uncharacteristic behavior, such as hiding, aggression, excessive vocalization……
Twice a year senior wellness visits are recommended. Our pets can’t tell us where it hurts and they hide illnesses very well. If you catch an illness early on, treatment is much more successful. Routine tests such as blood or urinalysis tests can pick up the very earliest signs of kidney problems, diabetes, hyperthyroid disease and other illnesses in the early stages. If you notice your pet’s appetite, bathroom habits, vocalizations and activity level has changed, a trip to the vet is the next step. These are symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored. Take action if you sense something is wrong.
Most important of all is to make sure your kitty is eating and drinking plenty of water. Check with your veterinarian for suggestions for the right senior diet for your pet; there are many varieties. If your cat has difficulty bending down to eat, try putting the food on a raised platform. Pet stores sell raised feeding stations plus automatic feeders with timers for seniors who now prefer eating several small meals a day. A good quality canned food is a fabulous method for adding more water to your cat’s diet. Many cats crave the taste of canned food, and will gobble it up in seconds. However, keep in mind that it is not uncommon for an older cat to turn up its nose at canned food when it has only been fed dry kibble its whole life. In this case, try heating the food in the microwave. The sensational smell may entice your pet to indulge.
Cat fountains really help encourage cats to drink. This is especially important in older cats. Another technique to increase water consumption is getting a wider water dish. Silly as it may seem, some cats do not enjoy having their whiskers touch the edge of the bowl. Experiment with dishes in their width, depth, material, and location. Some cats may only drink out of a specific type of dish, while others will have no discrimination. In addition, make an attempt to position multiple water dishes around the house to allow for easier access to water when your cat wants to quench its thirst. Change the water often, as some cats will only drink fresh water. Please remember that all of these suggestions are for a healthy cat. If you notice your cat is dehydrated or just drinking less than normal, make an appointment to have kitty be examined as soon as possible.
To make things easier for our aging felines, help them reach their favorite spots. Set up ramps or steps so they can easily get to a window to bird watch or enjoy their environment. Place soft, thicker bedding in the areas where they love to lounge. If they haven’t already, eventually they will take over Fido’s bed! A nightlight will help a senior cat with poor eyesight. Give them a daily brushing to help keep their coats tidy. Treat them as you would an elderly relative. Patience, lots of love, observation and making allowances for them will keep them happy during their golden years. Getting old isn’t easy, especially when the one growing older is your feline companion. Giving a little extra attention to your senior kitty’s health care may help them live a longer and healthier life. PAH feline friends, Cash and Gypsy enjoying their nap time together!
What is a cataract?
The eye contains a clear lens that helps the eye to focus. Any opacity that develops in the lens is a cataract. Very small cataracts may not cause a problem at all, but larger, cloudier opacities can cause blurry or even totally obscured vision.
If my pet’s eyes are cloudy, does that mean it has cataracts?
Most pets will start to have some hardening of the lens as they age. This results in a grayish-blue haziness to the eye. This is NOT a cataract and does not usually interfere with vision.
Why did my dog/cat develop cataracts?
Most cataracts are inherited and can occur at any age and develop at any speed in one or both eyes. Diabetes or other ocular diseases can also cause cataracts to develop.
What can be done about cataracts?
There is nothing that can be done to reverse a cataract once it has developed. For certain patients, a veterinary ophthalmologist can perform a surgery in which the lens is removed. This is a delicate and involved procedure, however it can restore vision almost completely.
What if I don’t do surgery?
Most pets do well even if they are blinded by cataracts. They should be monitored closely, however, as cataracts can lead to painful glaucoma or luxation (displacement) of the lens.