If you are a cat parent we have good news - most cats live to anywhere between 12 and 16 years old, some even get to be as old as 20 years. In fact cats that spend more time indoors keeping us company tend to live longer than outdoor cats as they are better cared for and not as exposed to health hazards like environmental chemicals, infections, traffic, and the occasional fight with other cats.
As people in general have recently become more aware and health conscious, they begin to eat better, get more exercise and explore alternative and natural health care both for themselves and their pets. All this is contributing to a longer life span for both people and their pets - which is great news. While this is a very positive sign, it also poses some unique challenges for owners who are caring for aging cats. Although your feline is living longer, it does not mean that at some point they will not experience some of the natural signs of aging, and in fact they may have to deal with some of those health issues for longer periods. The good news is that if you can spot the signs and symptoms of health issues that can afflict older cats early on, you can still help them live a very healthy and long life.
And this is exactly what we hope to help you do.
First, we need to know the signs to watch for that may indicate the start of potential senior cat health problems:
- Difficulty jumping or climbing
- Changes in weight
- Loss of appetite
- Tooth pain and tooth loss
- Failure to use the litter box
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Listlessness and social avoidance
- Cloudy eyes or bumping into things
- Unexplained lumps
- Loss of hearing
- Peeing outside the litter box
The good news is that there are things cat parents can do to ensure their feline companions live long and happy lives. Here are few of the main problems that cats face as they get older and some tips for keeping your cat healthy, active and comfortable well into their old age.
1. Cat arthritis, joint and hip health
One of the first signs of your kitty slowing down is the increased stiffness and degeneration of the joints, causing them pain when they walk or jump. For this reason taking care of your cats’ joints, hips and even knees, back and elbows is very important.
Unfortunately, as with people, no kitten stays energetic and flexible forever. One day he may be leaping to the top of the bookcase, and another he is having difficulty just climbing to the top of the stairs. As cats age their muscle tone decreases and their joints may become inflamed due to conditions such as cat arthritis
, hip problems, degenerative joint disease, or even every day injuries that just take slower to heal than before.
Some preventative measures you can take to help your kitty include ensuring your cat continues to be active as they age. If your cat is already experiencing problems, you can help them by ensuring their cat litter tray and beds are easy for them to get to. This can be done by setting up ramps, typically made out of plywood covered in carpet, to help your cat climb up stairs or onto their preferred patch on the couch.
Depending on your cat’s situation, alternative treatments such as massage, physiotherapy, as well as cat hip and joint supplements
such as ones containing Glucosamine and Chondroitin which can be used to reduce your cat’s pain and inflammation. In addition, there are many natural and homeopathic remedies such as the BestLife4Pets Joint and Hip Pain Relief for Cats
natural remedy that uses a special combination of plants to help reduce inflammation, making it easier for your cat to continue to be mobile and enjoy and active lifestyle.
2. Cat blindness and eye strain
In their evolution, cats have developed the unique ability to see clearly both indoors and out, in light and in the night. Unfortunately, these finely-tuned feline eyes can also be quite susceptible to injury and disease that can impact the cat’s eyesight or, in some cases, render a cat partially or totally blind. Although some cats, particularly pure bred, have a genetic predisposition for eye problems leading to blindness, it is much more common for adult or senior cats to lose their sight because of trauma, neurological problems, and high blood pressure, then it is due to genetics.
As with any health condition, prevention and early detection are key in an effective treatment. Which is why it is important to keep an eye out for any behavioral or physical indications that a cat is having vision problems and to tell your veterinarian about it as soon as possible. It is also normal for a cat's eyes to become cloudy with age so as they get older you should have your veterinarian check your cat for cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye conditions during regular check-ups.
Once it is determined that your cat is having problems with their eyesight some of the ways that you can make make things easier for them to navigate around the house is to
not change the location of the furniture in your home. Moving things like furniture or their litter box to a different spot then they are used to can frighten or confuse your cat. If you need to make changes carefully observe your cat for a few days while they adjust to the new environment to make sure they do not hurt themselves or become disoriented. Keep the TV or radio on when your cat is alone at home if they are left alone for long periods of time to help them deal with separation anxiety
. And finally, just keep talking to them - the sound of your voice can be very reassuring for a cat that is no longer able to see as well as they used to.
3. Cat kidney disease and urinary tract infections
When cats are young and healthy, their kidneys act as amazing toxin eliminators effectively getting rid of protein waste and balancing the levels of water, salts and acids in the body. As cats start to age, the function of the kidneys start to decline leading to chronic kidney disease. Kidney disease in cats
is the gradual decrease in the kidney's ability to eliminate waste, or an acute or abrupt injury to the kidneys which could cause the cat to stop urinating and may even lead to kidney failure and eventual death.
Other onset problems can be an increase in urinary tract infections, formation of kidney stones, blood or crystals in the urine. Other signs may not be as obvious and can also include weight loss, deceased appetite, an increased thirst, or frequent urination
The good news is that with early detection, cats can live for many years even having kidney disease. They key here is early detection, so it is important to watch for signs of kidney failure in cats and take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice any of the early warning signals. In some cases your vet may recommend hospitalization for a short period of time in order to get some additional fluid support, but most cats with early kidney disease can recover at home as long as they are eating and drinking normally, without evidence of dehydration. The vet may also recommend a special diet or medication depending on the severity of the disease. Alternative natural kidney and cat urinary tract infection (UTI) treatments can also help to reduce infection, flush out the toxins and extend the life of the kidneys.
4. Cat hearing loss and deafness
Cats can have hearing loss too. Just like people, most often hearing loss is simply a result of age, but deafness can also occur from damage to or the degeneration of the the nerves in the ear. Obstructions in the ear, infection, or even some medication can also cause the hearing to diminish.
Cats that are going deaf can be extra sensitive as well as be easily frightened and need to be treated patiently while they adjust to their newly diminished sense. Over time, deaf cats tend to rely more on their remaining senses, especially vision and touch. They may feel the floorboards vibrate as you walk by and could be more sensitive to vibrations from loud music or the slamming of a door. Because of this deaf cats will often move to a position where they will not get startled. They may want to hang out in very high places, like the top of the refrigerator or a bookshelf.
If you notice that your cat is going deaf, use a heavier stride when walking into a room or gently tap on the floor to let them know when you are coming near. To help guide them, you can use a laser pointer to show the way in front of you as you walk. If you notice that your cat is just starting to lose their hearing anticipate their need for security by creating lookout spots for them throughout the house so that they can get used to going there to better see what is going on.
4. Cat dental health and stomatitis
The most common dental and oral diseases in cats are gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth decay, and stomatitis. Gingivitis is where the gums around the teeth become red, inflamed, and painful. If gingivitis is not treated it can lead to periodontitis, which is where the tissues that attach the gums to the teeth become weekend from bacteria and infection until the cats tooth comes loose from the gums. Tooth decay is the rotting of the tooth from the inside that typically results in tooth extraction or tooth loss. And finally, stomatitis is where the soft tissues inside the mouth, including the cheek, tongue and gums become inflamed with painful red sores covering the area making it difficult to eat or drink. If your cat won't eat, check their mouth - you may find that it is red and inflamed which would be a sign of cat oral disease and stomatitis
. In many cases, the infection and bacteria stemming from oral and dental disease can also spread down to other parts of the body causing serious complications for the lungs, heart and other organs. For this reason, good oral health habits are extremely important for cats.
Start these good habits early by getting your young kitty used to having their teeth brushed from an early age. Feeding your cat a special diet or treats containing foods designed to prevent plaque buildup can also help. If your older cat has sensitive teeth, you may need to feed them moist foods or dry foods soaked in water to make it easier to chew. Your vet can prescribe antibiotics or other medication, but if the cat's has tooth decay or periodontitis the vet may even recommend tooth extraction. Before your cat's gums, teeth and mouth get to that state, look for natural cat oral and dental health remedies such as the BestLife4Pets Oral Health for Cats
to help reduce the redness, swelling and mouth sores.
In addition to taking good care of your cat’s health, regular vet visits can help to detect potential issues early on. And remember, since each animal is unique it is always best to check any new treatment or routine with your regular or holistic veterinarian as they will know your pet’s situation best.
Doing these things can help your kitty cat live gracefully and as pain-free as possible. It's never too late, but starting early by building your cat's trust and forming good healthy habits will pay off in the long run.
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