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Top 5 Health Concerns in Aging Cats

by Dr. Dana Koch published June 14, 2016.  Previously published by PetCoach.

We love making memories with our feline companions, but it can be difficult to watch them age.  Here are some of the most common health conditions cat owners should be aware of:

  1. Hyperthyroidism

Feline hyperthyroidism is caused by an overproduction of thyroid hormones.  Often clinical signs will include weight loss, rapid heart rate, voracious appetite, vomiting, hair loss, increased drinking/urination or increased anxiety.  Diagnosis is often completed by a blood test to evaluate levels of thyroid hormone in the blood.  There are several treatment options including anti-thyroid medication, radioactive iodine therapy, and surgery.

  1. Kidney disease

As cats age it is important to evaluate the kidneys for any signs of dysfunction, including an increase in water consumption and urination, weight loss, decreased appetite and vomiting.  If you are observing these clinical signs or desire to routinely evaluate your cat’s internal organ function seek a veterinary visit.  Your veterinarian can perform a chemistry blood panel and urinalysis that will help to detect kidney dysfunction. An appropriate treatment plan can be recommended by your veterinarian based on the stage of kidney disease.

  1. Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a disorder caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin.  There are two types of this disorder; Type I results from total or near-complete destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.  With Type II, the more common type in cats, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the tissues of the cat’s body are relatively resistant to it. Common clinical signs include fluctuation in weight, increased drinking and urination, weakness in back legs, lethargy, and muscle wasting.  Your veterinarian can make a diagnosis through a detailed medical history, physical examination and often with blood and urine tests.  Treatment often involves insulin injections and diet modifications.

  1. Cancer

According to the Veterinary cancer center cancer is the number one natural cause of death in older cats and dogs. It accounts for nearly 50 percent of pet deaths each year.  This statistic is scary but advancements in the veterinary field have made new treatment and therapies possible for animals with cancer.  If your cat is experiencing any abnormal clinical signs such as weight loss, lack of appetite, vomiting and development of lumps on the body a veterinary consultation would be recommended.

  1. Arthritis

You may start to notice your senior cat having more difficulty jumping up on the furniture or onto their favorite spot by the windows.  Arthritis can be observed in aging cats when their joints and cartilage begin to degenerate.  Cat owners will often observe stiffness, lameness or even difficulty entering and leaving the litterbox.  Veterinarians can suggest medications to help slow down the progression of arthritis and alleviate discomfort in your cats

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