Senior felines – look out for these 5 conditions

1st January 2018

All cats age at different rates so it’s difficult to set an age at which your pet is classed as a ‘senior citizen’. At Bollington Veterinary Centre we generally consider cats over the age of 10 years to be susceptible to some of the age-related problems.

Cats are not good at telling us when something is wrong, so this month we thought it’d be a good idea to tell you of some of the more common problems we see and how to spot them.

1. Dental disease

This is probably the most common problem, with over 70% of cats in middle age being affected. Unfortunately it’s difficult to understand the effects as most cats aren’t too keen to have their teeth examined at home. Fortunately at Bollington Veterinary Centre we find it easier to check as we have help and experience on our side. We’ll take a look inside the mouth and look for signs of disease.

What are the signs of dental disease?

  • Yellow deposits – the teeth become discoloured
  • Gingivitis – red, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Halitosis – you may notice bad breath
  • Infection – we’ll check for signs of pus around the tooth
  • Pain – the mouth, gums and teeth may be sensitive
  • Pawing at the face – another sign of discomfort
  • Loose or missing teeth – the incisors, canines, premolars and molars are all affected
  • Loss of appetite – sore gums and sensitive teeth can stop a cat from eating. Often they’ll go towards the food then back off
  • Drooling saliva – this may cause some staining of the fur around the face
  • Irritability or depression – you wont be surprised to know that they become fed up with tooth ache

If we see signs of inflammation or infection we may recommend a dental scale and polish for your cat. If the dental disease is severe extractions may be necessary.

There are lots of ways to prevent dental problems, including brushing and dry food diets. Ask our team of experts for advice on what we recommend.


2. Hyperthyroidism

We see this condition quite frequently. In fact it’s the most common hormonal problem in the cat population, usually presenting in late middle-aged and older cats.

Some of the signs you may be aware of include;

  • increased appetite
  • restlessness
  • increased vocalisation
  • unkempt coat
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea

If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment and let us take a look. A blood test is usually required to confirm a diagnosis.


3. Kidney failure

In older cats, kidney problems usually develop slowly and often without any obvious signs. If left untreated, the kidneys slowly become permanently damaged. However if the problem is noticed earlier we can suggest ways to help manage the problem and prevent the disease becoming too advanced.

The common signs of kidney disease are;

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination frequency and volume
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Mouth ulcers

Watch out for these early signs and be sure to discuss any concerns with our vets.


4. Diabetes mellitus

This is another life threatening hormonal condition. It occurs when the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to balance blood glucose, levels. Left untreated, it can lead to weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, severe depression, problems with motor function, coma, and even death.

It’s estimated that between 1% and 2% of the cat population is affected, with many cases going undiagnosed.

If we suspect a problem linked to diabetes we’ll recommend a blood test to help us make a diagnosis.


5. Arthritis

This is a problem that is often missed by cat owners. If your cat is getting a bit stiff in the mornings, struggles to get comfortable when curling up, finding it difficult to groom themselves or gets a bit grumpy when you try and pick them up, it may be an indication that they are in pain with arthritis.

Joints start to degenerate as part of the ageing process resulting in inflammation and pain. As a cat get older, the cartilage that cushions the joint deteriorates and becomes less flexible.

Arthritis can also develop due to chronic bruising of the joint surfaces from an animal being overweight.

If you notice any of the above symptoms, don’t forget to mention this during your next vet or nurse consultation. We have some very effective treatments to help your cat age gracefully.