10 common concerns with older cats
Did you ever wonder what you cat would say about getting old? Would they tell you that their joints ache, or that they are feeling a bit more sleepy or just that they want to spend less time outside?
The good news is that we don't know either - but we do know that as cats get older, their habits change and their humans will worry about them. So to help you, here are our top ten tips for coping with your ageing feline.
1. My cat’s fur isn’t looking as shiny as it used to and its getting a bit matted.
Older cats may have difficulty grooming themselves. If your cat is long haired, you may need to brush them more frequently than you used to. Grooming your cat is a great way to check them for any lumps, bumps or sores. They may also enjoy the extra attention. Just remember to be gentle as they may have less ‘padding’ (i.e fat coverage) than young cats. If you find yourself struggling to keep you cat looking good, you can make an appointment for them to be seen by one of our nurses.
2. My cat seems really confused.
Sometimes he asks to be put outside, then when he goes out it’s like he has forgotten where he is or what he was doing! Cats can display senile behaviour (senior moments) too. This can appear as episodes of apparent ‘forgetfulness’, behaviour changes (eg a previously aloof cat becomes extremely friendly or the other way round) and excessive vocalisation. If you are worried about your pets behaviour please give us a call. There are things that we may be able to do to help.
3. My cat is drinking lots more than she used to.
There can be several reasons for having to refill your cats water bowl more often than you used to. Older cats can suffer from diseases that increase their thirst. These include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, urinary tract disease and kidney disease. All of these conditions are manageable so please make an appointment to see one of our vets.
4. My cat doesn’t seem to eat much at all these days.
What could be the matter? Decreased appetite can be a normal occurrence in old age. However if your cat stops eating, or you notice that they are losing a lot of weight there may be an underlying problem. Dental disease may make eating a painful experience for your cat, and it is quite a common problem in older cats. Kidney problems can also make your cat feel nauseous and put them off there food
5. My cat eats loads, but he is really thin.
What’s wrong with him? If your cat always seems to be hungry but also seems to be losing weight he may have a condition called hyperthyroidism. This is a common disorder amongst cats over the age of 7 years of age. Other symptoms include hyperactivity, irritability and a poor coat.
6. She keeps having accidents outside the litter tray .
If your cat is urinating outside of the litter tray it may also be a sign that she or he has a urinary tract infection. If they have diarrhoea they may also feel the urge to go outside of their tray. If you are concerned about your pets toileting habits, please make an appointment to speak to a vet. As cats get older they can find it more difficult to climb in and out of the litter tray, either due to age related weakness or arthritis. Sometimes cats can also find the actual litter uncomfortable as they get older. Take a look at our post on ‘tips to make your home friendly for an older cat’.
7. My cat has really smelly breath.
What can I do to help? Smelly breath (halitosis) may be a sign that your cat is having problems with their teeth. Other signs to watch out for are drooling, difficulty eating or chattering their jaw. If your cat shows any of these then please make an appointment to get their teeth checked by one of our vets.
8. I’ve noticed my cat can’t jump onto his favourite window seat anymore.
Cats usually have a favourite place to sit and often this is somewhere raised off the ground. If your cat no longer seems able to jump onto their favourite seat this may be a sign that they are suffering from arthritis. It is important to get them checked as there are pain relief options that may help your cat, but there are other things you can do to make your home more ‘elderly cat’ friendly too.
9. Ouch! My cat has really long, sharp claws.
As cats get older, it becomes more difficult for them to retract their claws. They may also find it more difficult to use scratching posts as well as they once did, especially if they have arthritis. Sometimes it might be necessary to trim your cats claws to prevent them getting caught on carpets and soft furnishings. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself, please make an appointment with one of our nurses.
10. I’ve noticed a lump.
Lumps and bumps on your pets body can be anything from cat bite abscesses, enlarged glands, matted fur, benign growths or even ticks that have attached themselves to your pet. Sometimes they can be a sign of cancer. If you notice a new lump on your pet, don’t panic. Make an appointment for your pet to be checked over by a vet or nurse so as we can find out the cause.