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Cats go through multiple stages in their life, including kitten, adult, and senior. As they age, they become less active, and their nutritional and physical needs change. When cats reach the senior stage, they can develop various degenerative disorders.
A cat is considered a senior when they reach eight years of age. However, many cats live healthy lives into their teens and twenties. It's almost impossible to know if a cat will have a degenerative disorder in their senior years. Although, some cat breeds are more prone to certain genetic conditions.
The following degenerative conditions are common for senior cats:
Renal failure: Renal, or kidney, failure is the most common cause of death in senior cats. Senior cats need a lot of fresh, clean water to keep their kidneys functioning properly. Dry food doesn't provide water and is difficult for senior cats to digest. Pet parents should add wet food and/or water to their cat's dry food to help their cat take in more water.
Liver disease: Obese cats are more prone to liver disease as they age. Pet parents should provide a diet that promotes a healthy weight and give the cat toys to keep them active.
Urinary Tract infections (UTI): Female cats are the most prone to UTIs as they age. To help prevent UTIs, pet parents should clean their cat's litter box daily and provide fresh, clean water every day.
Arthritis: Arthritis is a common degenerative condition for many senior animals. To help prevent arthritis, pet parents need to manage their cat's weight and keep the cat active.
Hearing loss: Pet parents can't prevent hearing loss, but they can help their cat cope with the condition. A cat with hearing loss is easily startled. Pet parents should avoid approaching their cat from behind. Avoid adding any new pets to the home.
Eyesight loss: The home can become a dangerous place for cats as they lose their sight — especially at night. Pet parents should avoid moving furniture around and leaving items on the floor. Blind cats can easily hurt themselves by running into a wall or furniture. Eye surgery is available for cats and can improve their sight. However, pet parents have to weigh the cost and benefits with the risks of putting a senior cat under anesthesia.
Dental problems: Many pet parents don't realize that poor dental care can cause their cats to have many health problems when they're older. Bacteria from dental disease get into the cat's bloodstream and their organs. Bacteria in the blood can cause renal, kidney, and heart disease. Cats should have regular dental check-ups and cleanings to prevent dental disease and organ failure.
Pet parents should keep track of their cat's normal behavior, activities, and appetite. If the pet parent notices any changes in their cat, it may indicate an underlying health condition. Pet parents should also check their cat's teeth, ears, coat, skin, and paws to make sure they're healthy.
Fuzzy is here to help 24/7 via Live Vet Chat and can answer any questions or concerns pet parents have about early prevention for senior cats.