If your cat is reaching old age, you may begin to notice that it starts to act a little differently, and its habits may change. This can be worrying to owners, especially if you have had your cat since it was a kitten. We’ve compiled a list of some of the problems you may encounter with your cat as it grows older, and how to deal with them to ensure your cat enjoys its twilight years just as much as we can.
Arthritis and stiffness
Just like us, as they age, cats may experience arthritis and stiffness, which although isn’t life threatening, can cause discomfort to your much loved pet. Signs that your cat is suffering with arthritis include the reluctance to jump like they usually wood, grumpiness, and the inability to groom themselves properly and decreased appetite. To keep your cat as comfortable as possible, ensure that their bed is soft and supportive – you may need to invest in a new one if your cat is suffering with arthritis. Aim to encourage your cat to get mild exercise as keeping their joints mobile will help, along with managing their weight well.
Cats are living increasingly longer than they have ever done, and whilst this is great, it also means that brain related illnesses such as dementia are on the rise. Your cat may experience a lot of confusion as it grows older, along with aggression and memory loss. It may seem impossible to spot the signs of a brain condition in a cat, but if you are familiar with your cat’s nature, it will be more obvious than you had previously thought. If their daily routine changes, or if they appear to forget they’ve been fed (and show signs of wanting food immediately after eating), it could be due to a dementia related illness. Look into purchasing nutrition supplements if you spot these signs, or start your cat on them early to aim to reduce the chances of brain problems.
Overactive thyroid glands
This is an extremely common condition amongst older cats, and is generally due to the extremely fast metabolic rates that cats possess. The process of your cat’s weight loss may be fairly slow and steady at first, so may sometimes be hard to spot. Therefore aim to be as familiar as possible with your cat’s weight and body shape, and ensure that they are eating foods designed for older cats, like Iams senior cat food, to keep their nutrition levels as high as possible. If weight loss is dramatic or rapid, it’s advised to seek attention from a vet.
Lumps or growths
Lumps and bumps are regular in older cats, but it’s important that you know which ones are perfectly normal, and which ones may be something more serious. Older cats are more prone to diseases like cancer, so if you do spot new lumps on it, the best option may be to get it checked out at the vet’s. Most lumps will be benign, but if not, your vet will be able to discuss treatment to solve the problem, or at least make your cat as comfortable as possible during its later days.
Painful teeth will obviously be extremely unpleasant for your cat, especially when they grow older. Tartar build up amongst cats is very common in particular, and will need to be treated by a vet, usually under anaesthetic. It can be quite hard to spot dental problems in your cat as they may battle through feeding time regardless of their discomfort, due to hunger. More noticeable signs can include if you cat stops grooming, if it has particularly bad breath and if it is grumpy. A trip to the vet to discuss steps to take to solve the problem will be necessary. Anaesthetics are more advanced than they used to be, so don’t let this put you off getting your cat some much needed help.