It seems like no animals have more personality than older cats. We've adapted to, and may even enjoy the independent way they run our lives. They make us smile, give us comfort and while we never figure them out - they seem to have us trained!
Age is not a disease, but there are some conditions we do need to manage as they age.
The number one cause of death in older cats is kidney disease. As they age, cats begin to lose kidney function, meaning it can't remove toxins as efficiently. However, cats have to lose 80% of their kidney function before they'll show signs of disease. The damage cannot be reversed, so we can only improve the function they have left. Feeding them a low protein, high fiber diet can help stabilize the problem. Oral treatments like Azodyl
slow down uremic toxin build up and help manage kidney disease. When used daily these products ease the kidney's job of removing toxins from the blood.
Constipation is caused by dehydration, lack of appetite, and a lack of colon function. In most cats, Grizzly Salmon Oil
will alleviate the constipation, but others need added fiber in the diet as well. However, added fiber will increase the litter box odor. Laxatone
is an alternative laxative treatment and also helps with hairballs. Geriatric cats often do not drink which complicates the issue. If they are not water drinkers, increased fluids will help, and you can add electrolytes, like Rebound OES
, to the water to help with the dehydration.
LOSS OF APPETITE
Lack of appetite is a difficult issue in old cats. If they don’t eat, they lose weight. The cause of this lack of appetite is a decreased or lost sense of smell because cats won’t eat what they can’t smell. The solution is to add smell to their diet. Adding Grizzly Salmon Oil
to their food will increase the smell for those cats that have a decreased sense of smell. As a bonus, the fatty acids increase their skin and coat health. This rough hair coat leads to our next problem which is grooming.
Old cats don’t get lazy about grooming - they get overwhelmed! Dry hair becomes matted and contaminated with urine or feces. As soon as they can't keep up with grooming, they give up. One solution to this is a sterile clip: clip up the rear to the tail, inside of the back legs and the tummy up to the front legs. The cat will groom just fine if you give them this help. You won't be able to see the sterile clip unless they lay upside down. Cats do not like a body clip and they will often hide for days. Cats like the sterile clip and will do well grooming with a sterile clip. Clippers and blades
are inexpensive and easy to use. Old cat hair is often dry, so use a clipper spray, like Oster Kool Lube Spray
or Andis Cool Care Plus
to keep the blade sliding without pulling the hair or skin. The sterile clip is the easiest grooming help possible.
Bladder infections usually happen in male cats. Amoxicillin
is a good antibiotic for bladder issues. However, as cats age, it's better to try and prevent the issue rather than treat it after it happens. Cranberry supplements, like Doc Roy's® CRANBERRY EXTRA
or Doc Roy's® POTASSIUM CITRATE + CRANBERRY
, are helpful for preventing bladder infections and stones, and most are chicken flavored, so cats eat them well. Adding Cranberry Extra to the diet daily will help prevent reoccurrence of bladder infection eliminating the need to treat.
THE "KIND OF OLD CAT"
“Kind of old cat” owners are starting to pick up their cat is aging and not as perfect as when they were younger. Preventing or reversing any possible issues is the goal.
- Supplement their diet with vitamins. Though there are plenty in the diet, the middle-aged cat often loses the ability to absorb adequate amounts. Doc Roy’s® DAILY CARE FELINE is excellent and comes in chicken flavor granular form that makes it easy to use on the food.
- For matted coat cats - A sterile clip will make it easier to prevent matted coats, keeping the long-haired cat happy.
- Use fatty acids, like Doc Roy's® TRI OMEGA 3 or Grizzly Salmon Oil which will create better coats and will ease grooming needs. Without adequate amounts of fatty acids, shed hair gets caught up in the coat causing mats.
- As cats groom, hairballs become inevitable. Routine use of Doc Roy's® HAIRBALL CONTROL or salmon oil twice a week will prevent fur-ball vomiting.
- Feed a diet that will correct issues later! Be sure you do not give them extra meat or foods with high protein as a high protein diet causes kidney issues. Added fat can aid digestion and help cats with GI upset. Cats require a high fat diet and benefit if fed appropriately. The use of salmon oils will help digestion, help appetite and relieve hair balls.
By keeping alert to your cat's changing physical and nutritional needs, you can ensure that their golden years are the happiest they can be!
If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.
- Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical