Senior Cats

Signs of reaching Senior status for a cat is different for each cat, same as in humans. Things to watch for, you know your cat best — do you notice any of the following:

  • sleeping more than usual?
  • Not wanting to climb the cat condo as much?
  • Any difficulty grooming the “hard to reach” areas?
  • Difficulty going up or down the stairs, jumping up or down off of favorite perches, etc.?

Senior cats that exhibit the symptoms of aching joints may be afflicted with Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. Excess weight may be a contributing factor, and weight control (including exercise) is an important part of any treatment program for Osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis: Signs to watch for in your cat,

  • Altered Gait
  • Stiffness upon arising from rest
  • Reluctance to Jump
  • Obvious Pain When Walking
  • Personality Changes (Increased nervousness, depression, or aggression)

Reduced hearing – Cats can experience hearing loss. In some cases it is hardly noticeable, other cases it can be total loss.

Cloudy or “bluish” eyes – Like dogs, cat’s eyes often show a bluish transparent “haze” in the pupil area. This is a normal effect of aging,vision does not appear to be affected.

Cataracts are white and opaque. Vision can be affected by cataracts, and your vet needs to be consulted.Cats who are older, may begin loosing their ability to see.

Seeing a treasured cat go blind, either gradually or suddenly, can be a devastating experience. Cats are terrifically resilient, they will use their enhanced senses of smell, hearing and touch (whiskers and other vibrissae hairs on their feet and their face) to compensate for their vision loss.

How to Help Your Blind Cat:

You can help a great deal by keeping your cat’s normal routine as unchanged as possible. His food dish, bed, litter box, and other accessories should be kept in their normal places. Try to avoid moving furniture, and keep other “stumbling blocks” out of his way. You can warn him of your approaching by speaking to him or clapping your hands. (He will also feel the vibrations of your footsteps on most floors.) Most importantly, relax and enjoy your cat. Whether blind or seeing, his feelings for you haven’t changed. My Rio is 17 yrs old and showing signs of blindness, so I am very careful of leaving things lay around in my house.

Thinning of the iris: Some cats eyes, particularly those lighter in color, may appear to be “moth-eaten” as they age. This does not appear to affect vision, but some cats may become more light sensitive.

Muscle atrophy – Mild loss of muscle mass, especially the hind legs, may be seen with old age. If your cat is having trouble walking, see your veterinarian.

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June 2012
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