The Top 5 Signs Your Senior Cat Should Visit a Veterinarian by Dr. Dana Cini

1. They can no longer jump-up to higher levels 

Just like dogs, cats become arthritic as they age. Often the signs are more subtle and require close attention. You may notice your cat can no longer jump on to the counter or favourite window perch. Sometimes they have difficulty going up stairs or don’t enjoy being petted along their back like they used to. There are excellent treatment options for cats with arthritis that are safe and effective. Treatment can include arthritis diets which contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acid, supplements such as glucosamine or even therapeutic laser.

2.  The pee clumps in the litter are larger

Not being able to concentrate urine, resulting in more water intake and more urine production, is a very important symptom of many geriatric diseases. Diseases such as diabetes, high thyroid level or chronic kidney disease all cause increased production of very watery urine. This can lead to dehydration as fluid is not kept in the body. There are good treatment options for all three of these disease processes.

3. They are vocalizing more than normal

If your normally quiet cat is suddenly up all night meowing this could be a sign of hyperthyroidism (excess thyroid hormone production). This disease is usually seen in cats 11years or older and is due to a non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland. The excess hormone production increases metabolism leading to weight loss with an increase in appetite and sometimes increased vocalization. This disease has many treatment options including: prescription diet, oral medication, surgery or radioactive iodine treatment. Most cats respond very well.

4. Their coat looks messy

You may notice your cat not looking as sleek and shiny as they once did. This is often due to an inability to groom. Just like people as cats age they can become less flexible and sore joints may stop them from grooming in certain areas. This problem can be especially true in overweight cats that may have fecal material stuck around their bum as they cannot reach to clean themselves. These cats can often benefit from treatment of their osteoarthritis, weight loss and some extra grooming by their owner.

5. They’re not using their litter box

You may think your senior cat has just become lazy and does not want to walk all the way to the basement to use their litter box but this never the case. As mentioned above there are several disease processes that cause cats to pee more, if you are not scooping more to keep their box clean they may choose to go to the bathroom somewhere else. It can also be uncomfortable for a cat with arthritis to climb into a litter box and then posture to go to the bathroom; this is especially true of covered litter boxes. Consider adding another litter box for a cat that is peeing a lot (after you visit the vet to find out why they’re peeing more) or purchasing a box with a low side or cutting out the side of your current box to make it easier to enter.

There are many other signs that your cat needs an exam by a veterinarian such as weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting and hiding. So when in doubt let your vet check-it out! North Hill Animal Hospital veterinarians have a lot of training with senior pets, October & November is the time to visit for your senior pet exams.