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Common Diseases of Senior Cats
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Senior Cat Care
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Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at DrsFosterSmith.com Pet Supplies
cat sitting on covered wicker basketIn The Aging Process and How We Can Help Older Cats Adapt, we explain some of the more common and normal changes we can see in the function of the various organ systems in an older cat. Many of these changes are expected. Disease can occur, however, if these changes become severe and the organ or system is no longer able to compensate. The more common diseases seen in older cats and the signs of these diseases are listed in the table below. Most of the diseases are discussed in detail in separate articles, just one click away.

 

Common Diseases in Older Cats Signs and Symptoms of Disease
Cancer Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
Sores that do not heal
Weight loss
Loss of appetite
Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
Offensive odor
Difficulty eating or swallowing
Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating
Dental disease Bad breath
Difficulty eating or swallowing
Drooling
Food dropping from mouth when eating
Weight loss
Hyperthyroidism Increased activity
Increased appetite
Weight loss
Increased thirst and urination
Vomiting
Labored or increased rate of respiration
Increased heart rate (pulse)
Kidney disease/failure Increased urination and thirst
Weight loss
Vomiting
Loss of appetite
Depression and lethargy
Diarrhea
Blood in vomit or black, tarry stool
Bad breath and oral ulcers
Inflammatory bowel disease Diarrhea
Vomiting
Mucous or blood in stool
Increased frequency of defecation
Defecating outside of litter box
Weight loss
Diabetes mellitus Increased thirst and urination
Weight loss or weight gain
Decreased activity, weakness
Change in appetite
Vomiting
Walk on their hocks
Obesity Overweight
Exercise intolerance
Unkempt hair coat, especially in anal area
Feline hepatic lipidosis Obese cat with sudden loss of appetite
Subsequent weight loss
Depression
Vomiting
Yellow gums
Behavior changes
Anemia Exercise intolerance
Very light colored gums
Mitral Insufficiency/Heart disease Exercise intolerance
Labored and increased rate of breathing
Weight loss
Paralysis of rear legs
Liver disease Vomiting
Loss of appetite
Diarrhea
Abdominal distention
Yellow or pale gums
Behavior changes
Weight loss
Bladder stones Difficulty urinating
Urinating outside the litter box
Blood in the urine
Arthritis Difficulty jumping or climbing stairs
Behavior change - irritable, reclusive
Urinating or defecating outside of litter box
 

 
References and Further Reading

American Association of Feline Practitioners. Academy of Feline Medicine Panel Report on Feline Senior Care. 1998.

Becker, M. Caring for older pets and their families. Firstline. August/September 1998: 28-30.

Epstein, M; Kuehn, NF; Landsberg, G; et al. AAHA Senior care guidelines for dogs and cats. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 2005; 41(2):81-91.

Fortney, WD (ed). Veterinary Clinics of North America Small Animal Practice: Geriatrics. W.B Saunders Co, Philadelphia, PA; 2005.

Harper, EJ. Changing perspectives on ageing and energy requirements: Ageing and energy intakes in humans, dogs, and cats. Waltham International Symposium on Pet Nutrition and Health in the 21st Century. Orlando, FL; May 25-29, 1997.

Hoskins, JD. Geriatrics and Gerontology of the Dog and Cat, Second Edition. W.B Saunders Co, Philadelphia, PA; 2004.

Hoskins, JD; McCurnin, DM. Implementing a successful geriatric medicine program. Supplement to Veterinary Medicine; 1997.

Landsberg, G; Ruehl, W. Geriatric Behavior Problems. In Hoskins, JD (ed) The Veterinary Clinics of North America Small Animal Practice: Geriatrics. W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia, PA; 1997: 1537-1559.

Ogilvie, GK; Moore, AS. Critical Issues in Senior Pets: Disease Prevention, health and wellness. Veterinary Forum 2006 (Dec):40-46.

Overall, KL. Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals. Mosby-Year Book, Inc. St. Louis, MO; 1997.

Thompson, S (moderator). Roundtable on pediatric, adult, senior, and geriatric wellness at every stage of life. Veterinary Forum; 1999 (January):60-67.

Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at DrsFosterSmith.com Pet Supplies  
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