How will getting older impact the health of my cat?

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.

Dr. William Sean Penn
Horizon Animal Hospital

How do a cat's nutritional needs change as they age?

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.

What are some signs and symptoms that your cat may be slowing down?

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.

What are some health complications or diseases that are commonly experienced by senior cats?

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.

What kinds of preventative care can help extend the life and health of my cat?

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.

Why are wellness exams and regular checkups important for senior cats?

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.

What tests might a senior cat need?

Oftentimes, the minimum database would be blood work, including thyroid and kidney testing, and a urinalysis.

What is the most important thing to know about caring for a senior cat?

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.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (480) 614-9500, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.