As cats age, just as people do, medical conditions often arise, such as dental disease, kidney disease, heart conditions, other gastrointestinal diseases, and other hormonal endocrine diseases.
Some cats, as they get older, their gastrointestinal tracts actually have a little bit more difficulty digesting some foods. Sometimes that can require some modification of diet, be it in protein changes, limiting carbohydrates, or limited ingredients because of sensitivities that develop. Some cats also develop certain medical conditions that require specialized prescription diets or home diets with the help of a veterinary nutritionist.
With age, one of the things that every cat will exhibit is some degree of arthritis. Sometimes they'll be maybe slower or reluctant to jump up onto a place they used to like. We also see that they have more difficulties or reluctance to do active things that they used to want to do as well. In addition, their appetite might change, or they might have other signs related to kidney disease or other diseases where they're drinking more water, urinating more often, and maybe having accidents in the house more frequently.
Kidney disease is a very common thing. Cats have excellent kidneys, but as they get older, sometimes they can have changes that can make them not work as well. Hyperthyroid, which is an overactive thyroid gland, is another condition that often occurs. And, of course, arthritis, But also, cancer, unfortunately, can rear its ugly head.
Certainly, routine physical exams, either biannually or annually, are really important for cats. A veterinarian can make some recommendations based on the physical exam and changes that may have occurred.
It's very important to identify and prevent diseases and conditions early so we can help them live a happy, fulfilling life in their golden years.
Oftentimes, the minimum database would be blood work, including thyroid and kidney testing, and a urinalysis.
Most importantly, we want to monitor for any changes that come about as the cat ages. I would say the single most important thing with older cats or cats of any age is if their appetite decreases.
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