Common Conditions of the Older Cat

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Any cat at any life-stage that is diagnosed with a manageable condition, is likely to require more frequent check-ups and tests such as urine and blood samples.

The ‘top five’ diseases of older cats:

  1. Chronic Kidney Disease
  2. Hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid gland(s))
  3. Osteoarthritis
  4. Diabetes
  5. Cancer

Hypertension (high blood pressure) can also occur in older cats, often in association with some of the conditions listed above, so should be considered part of the routine ‘older cat’ screening.

1. Chronic Kidney Disease

Clinical signs vary case by case. Common signs are

  • increased drinking
  •  increased urination
  • weight loss

Other signs that may be noted are

  • reduced appetite
  • loss of general condition
  • lethargy
  • constipation
  • vomiting
  • smelly breath
  • weakness
  • difficulty or painful urination

There are many possible management options for cats with kidney disease that can improve their quality and quantity of life.

If you are concerned that your cat may have Kidney Disease please contact us.

For further information you can look at International Cat Care page https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/chronic-kidney-disease-cats#signs

2. Hyperthyroidism

Clinical signs vary case by case. Common signs are

  • increased appetite
  • weight loss
  • increased drinking
  • increased activity, restlessness or altered behaviour (eg more aggressive)

Other signs that may be noted are

  • matted coat
  • anxious facial expression
  • dilated pupils
  • rapid breathing
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • sometimes lethargy

Hyperthyroidism can be very successfully managed, or potentially cured, by various treatment options.

If you are concerned that your cat may have Hyperthyroidism please contact us.

For further information you can look at International Cat Care page https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/hyperthyroidism-overactive-thyroid-gland

3. Osteoarthritis

The clinical signs of arthritis can be very difficult to spot, and many owners attribute any changes to the cat just getting older. It comes on gradually, so any pain is accommodated, they do not ‘cry out in pain’ – the lack of vocalising in cats with arthritis does not mean they are not in pain.

Common signs are

  • reduced mobility particularly with stairs and jumping up and down
  • sleeping more
  • matted coat
  • becoming more grumpy

Other signs that may be noted are

  • limping
  • increased drinking
  • decreased appetite
  • house soiling (urinating or defaecating outside of a litter tray)
  • reduced activity in general, eg playing, going outside
  • overgrown claws
  • less sociable

This check list can help you determine if your cat may have arthritis – https://icatcare.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/images/mobility_check-list.pdf

Although arthritis cannot be cured, it can be very successfully managed with various treatment options, and lifestyle changes.

If you are concerned that your cat may have Arthritis please contact us.

For further information you can look at International Cat Care page https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/arthritis-and-degenerative-joint-disease-cats

4. Diabetes

Common signs are

  • Increased drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss

Other signs that may be noted are

  • Loss of muscle condition
  • Weakness
  • Walking flat on their hocks
  • Unkept coat
  • Signs of urine tract infection (pain on urinating, smelly urine, blood in the urine)
  • Enlargement of the abdomen
  • In advanced stages of diabetes (diabetic ketoacidosis), cats can become dangerously ill, with depression, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhoea, collapse, and potentially seizures.

Diabetes can be successfully managed, usually requiring insulin therapy. It may take weeks to months to stabilise a diabetic cat. Some cats go into remission and do not require ongoing therapy.

The prospect of injecting your cat with insulin can seem really daunting, but vet2cat can train you to do this, and will provide ongoing support.

For further information you can look at International Cat Care page https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/diabetes-mellitus#signs

If you are concerned that your cat may have Diabetes please contact us.

5. Cancer

There are many different types of cancer, that affect different parts of the body. In cats the 4 most common cancers are Lymphoma (affecting any part of the body), Squamous Cell Carcinoma (affecting the mouth or the skin), Mammary Carcinoma and various types of Soft Tissue Sarcoma (affecting the skin or layer just below the skin).

Clinical signs are therefore diverse, depending on what part of the body is affected.

Cancer may be considered if your cat has one or some of the following signs

  • a lump
  • vague waxing and waning illness such as poor appetite, weight loss and lethargy
  • increased thirst but no evidence of the diseases listed above and high blood calcium levels
  • very unusual skin lesions
  • a tendency to bleed or develop wounds

Getting a diagnosis will help determine the prognosis and treatment options. This is likely to require a combination of blood tests, imaging (eg x-rays, ultrasound or advanced imaging like CT or MRI scans), and a biopsy of the affected tissue.

Some cancers can be very successfully managed with surgery or minor medication. Other types are more difficult to deal with, and may need combinations of surgery, chemotherapy, and potentially radiotherapy.

For further information you can look at International Cat Care page https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/cancer-cats

If you are concerned that your cat may have Cancer please contact us.

Hypertension

As with humans, high blood pressure can be called ‘the silent killer’ as there are often no discernible clinical signs to suggest a cat has high blood pressure, until sudden drastic changes occur.
The most common consequence of hypertension recognised in cats is sudden blindness, due to detachment of the retina, or bleeding inside the eye.

Some cats may just be ‘not quite themselves’, perhaps more withdrawn and less active. Often this is only realised in hindsight, once the cat is successfully treated.

There are a few known primary causes of hypertension, so it is important to check for these diseases; kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes and rarely other endocrine (hormonal) diseases. Often a cause is not found, and it is referred to as primary, or essential, hypertension.

Other organs in the body can be damaged by hypertension if left uncontrolled, such as the kidneys, heart, brain and blood vessels.
Screening for hypertension in cats over 7 years of age, is currently the best diagnostic tool for identifying affected cats.

For further information you can look at International Cat Care https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/hypertension-high-blood-pressure-cats

If you are concerned that your cat may have Hypertension please contact us.

The Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare

These apply to all animals in the care of humans, whether a house pet, a horse, farm or zoo animals:

  1. Freedom From Hunger and Thirst
  2. Freedom From Discomfort
  3. Freedom From Pain, Injury or Disease
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour
  5. Freedom From Fear and Distress

Purrfect Health Club

At Vet2Cat we offer monthly health plans to help spread the cost of your cat’s preventative health care.
Our range of monthly health plans have been devised to cover different cats’ lifestyles, ages and individual needs.
Read more about our Purrfect Health Club here.