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Cat Crazy Newsletter

More on How Cats Age


Last week we started talking about the changes that

happen as cats age. I mentioned that a woman called

me very concerned that her 10-year-old cat was senior

and wanted to know what to expect. I talked about this

last week and got several emails asking me to be more

 specific – what EXACTLY happens to the cat’s body as

 they age.

I’ll try to give you some of that information now.

As cats age, certain behaviors and changes are expected.

Older cats become less active and tend to play less. Geriatric

cats sleep even more than younger cats. Some elderly cats will

 even groom less and eat with less vigor. Knowing what to expect

and being prepared can help you determine if the changes you

 are seeing in your cat are related to advancing age or if underlying

illness is at fault.

It is a good idea to have your cat examined periodically

 (a physical exam by your veterinarian). This can help look for problems

early. Start this at a young age. And if you have a pet insurance policy,

they generally cover wellness exams to help with this expense.  If you

don’t have pet insurance, it is a good idea to learn more about the benefits

of pet insurance. To learn more go to: www.petinsurance.com

The Kidneys. Kidney function in cats is often impaired in old age. The

transition from optimally functioning kidneys to ones that function

 poorly is a gradual process. With advancing age, blood flow to the

 kidneys decreases and there is a loss of filtering cells. The result of

all this is a failure of the kidneys to concentrate urine, so that older

cats with this type of deterioration will drink more and, consequently,

produce a larger amounts of more dilute urine. It is extremely important

 to make sure that such cats have constant access to water to prevent

kidney failure.

The Liver. Although some tests of liver function show progressive

deterioration with age, most cats do not develop liver disease.

However, fat can accumulate in the liver, sometimes as a secondary

condition to other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes).

This can cause the liver to become larger, with higher levels of liver

enzymes in the blood. Liver cirrhosis is also a disease of the older

 cat because of its chronic and progressive nature.

Cats’ hearing deteriorates progressively with age so that many older

cats appear not to hear you, and they do not respond to outside sounds

that formerly would have aroused them. Loss of hearing can be either

peripheral, due to changes in the ear itself or, as with failure of vision,

 related to changes within the brain.

I hope this helps you understand more about aging.  The better we

 understand our cat’s changes, the better care we can care for them.

I will talk more about this topic over the next week or so.

Until Next time,

Dr. Jon


March 11, 2008 - Posted by | Feline Health

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