Caring for Senior Cats

Senior Cat Recommendations:

  • Keep vaccinations current.
  • Brush frequently to keep hair coat from matting.
  • Clip toenails as needed to prevent overgrowth.
  • Keep fresh water available at all times and monitor consumption.
  • Monitor urine output by measuring wet litter.
  • Keep other pets from preventing this senior pet from eating or drinking.
  • Keep indoors.
  • Weigh on the same scale and record results at least every 2 month.
  • Lameness that lasts more than 3 days, or lameness in more than one leg.
  • Increasing inactivity especially increases in sleeping.
  • Hair loss, especially if accompanied by scratching or if in specific areas of the body.

Optimum health care can add years to the life of your pet as well as substantially decrease your cost of treating medical problems associated with aging. We would make the following recommendations:

Comprehensive Physical Examinations:

Since pets age 5-7 times faster than humans, it can be estimated that one physical examination for a pet is equivalent to one exam every 5-7 years in humans. The exam should include a very detailed medical history along with a “nose to tail” physical examination. In later years, a comprehensive physical examination should be performed every 6-12 months depending on any specific medical problems discovered in your pet. This screening should include an ECG screening and glaucoma screening.

Laboratory Screening For Disease:

Many medical problems can be diagnosed through the use of laboratory diagnostic testing long before clinical signs of disease become evident. Specific recommendations for your pet may include:

  • Internal Parasite Examination
  • Heartworm Testing
  • Feline Leukemia/Feline AIDS Testing
  • Urinalysis
  • Complete Blood Counts
  • Blood Chemistry Screening
  • Thyroid Screening


Feed the highest quality cat food you can afford. Read labels carefully. Ideal diets for senior pets would have less sodium and fat, and more fiber than regular adult foods. Higher quality and premium foods are more digestible and result in less stool volume. Constipation is a common and uncomfortable problem in older cats. The fiber content is very important—and supplements may be needed as well. Do not constantly switch brands of food. Older cats are more prone to dietary upset from too much variety in the foods they eat. If a specific medical condition is diagnosed, a specific prescription diet may be best for your pet. Vitamin supplements help keep the skin healthy and may enhance the pet’s immune system. Fatty acid supplements may be useful for skin problems, arthritis, & inflammatory bowel disease. Do not feed table scraps or snacks unless formulated for the senior pet. New pet treats are now available from the clinic that is very palatable as well as healthy for your pet. CAUTION: Be sure your older cat does not have to compete for food with other pets. You may need to feed older animals separately to ensure they are receiving their fair share.

Present the pet for examination if you observe any of the following:

  • Sustained, significant increase in water consumption. (More than 1.5 cups/day for the average cat)
  • Sustained, significant increase in wet litter.
  • Weight loss
  • Significant decrease in appetite or failure to eat for more than 2 consecutive days.
  • Significant increase in appetite.
  • Repeated vomiting.
  • Diarrhea that lasts over 3 days.
  • Difficulty in passing stool or urine or prolonged sitting in the litter box.
  • Change in litter box habits, especially if inappropriate urination or defecation occurs.
  • Lameness that lasts more than 3 days, or lameness in more than one leg.
  • Noticeable decrease in vision, especially if sudden in onset or pupils that do not constrict in bright light.
  • Masses, ulcerations (open sores), or multiple scabs on the skin that persists more than 1 week.
  • Foul mouth odor or drooling that lasts more than 2 days.
  • Increased size of the abdomen.
  • Increasing inactivity especially increases in sleeping.
  • Hair loss, especially if accompanied by scratching or if in specific areas of the body.
  • Reluctance or inability to chew dry food.

From the Veterinarians of Heritage Veterinary Hospital (Drs. Joe, Julie, Jessica, and Stephanie)


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