Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Cats are ready to sign up for AARC (American Association of Retired Cats!) at about age 8 or 9, and the average lifespan of a neutered or spayed indoor cat is somewhere in the mid- to late-teens.
At age 8 cats should have a physical exam with a blood test and urinalysis every six to nine months to keep them in top shape. Pet owners can do their part by observing their senior cat more frequently to notice any changes in behavior, eating patterns, litter box habits or mobility issues.
Be on the watch for indications of common problems in older cats, and bring your cat to the vet for a full exam if you see any signs of trouble. When caught early enough, many problems can be treated and your cat can live for many more years.
Kidney failure: Look for frequent drinking, urinating outside the litter box, excessive urinating, blood in the urine, weight loss, lethargy and breath that smells like ammonia. Kidney disease is very common in older cats.
Tumors: Feel for lumps or bumps on the body that could be tumors. Vomiting may also be a sign.
Diabetes: Indiscriminate urinating and frequent drinking are signs of diabetes.
Arthritis: Slow movements, difficulty walking, sitting or climbing could be signs of arthritis, rheumatic inflammation or degenerative joints.
Dental problems: A lack of appetite may be caused by pain from dental issues. Gingivitis (gum disease) and loose teeth are common problems and scaling of the gums or tooth extraction might be necessary. In addition, dental issues can potentially lead to other problems in cats.
Some cats are bad tempered enough, but senior cats can become downright curmudgeonly about their environment and exhibit uncharacteristic behavior. Be understanding and accommodating: