Caring for old cats!

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Aging is a natural process and comes with its share of problems. Thus, it is recommended that we take care of our health from an early age. The same holds true for your pets as well. Follow a regular health regime which includes healthy diet, physical and mental exercises and regular health check-ups.
Illness is a common part of aging. Sometimes it develops instantly while a chronic disease shows its effects slowly. Here are a few common illnesses encountered in old cats and how their causes, symptoms and treatment.
Kidney diseases: Kidney problems are quite common in old cats. Kidney trauma, high blood pressure, infection, decreased blood flow to the kidneys
Kritika Manchanda
and kidney stones are some of the main causes of both chronic and acute kidney problems. It is seen that older cats are more prone to kidney diseases, but a kidney problem can affect your cat at any age. “Abyssinian and Persian breeds are more prone to chronic renal failure,” added Dr Gautam Anand of Dr Anand’s Pet Clinic, New Delhi.
Here are a few symptoms of kidney problems.

  • Increased urination and thirst
  • Urinating in abnormal places
  • Pain while urinating
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Lethargy and lack of energy
  • Weight loss and weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in kidney area
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea or constipation

Talk to your vet if you notice any of these signs. It is always recommended to get timely medical advice. The treatment of an illness in the early stage is comparatively easier and gives effective results. Apart from a physical examination, a blood test and urine test would give a clearer picture. Biopsy and ultrasounds are also effective measures of diagnosing kidney problems in cats. The treatment methods include medications and in extreme cases, dialysis. Also your vet might suggest certain lifestyle changes like die modification, etc.
Diabetes: Diabetes is another common illness seen in old cats. It results in increased blood glucose or blood sugar levels. It is caused either due to lack of insulin production or an inadequate response to the insulin produced in the body. If not treated at the right time, diabetes can prove to be very dangerous for your kitty.
Here are a few symptoms of diabetes.

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Urinating in places other than the litter box
  • Change in appetite
  • Weakness in legs
  • Fatigue
  • Characteristic sweet smelling breath
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Lethargy and loss of energy

If the illness is detected at an early stage, the treatment would include medications. This would support the pancreas and manage the insulin levels. But once the pancreas wears out, which usually happens at a later stage, then insulin shots are the only treatment option.
Heart problems: There are various types of heart problems that can affect your kitty. The heart has four chambers: two on top (right and left atriums) and two on bottom (right and left ventricles). Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) affects the left ventricle and its ability to pump blood to arota. “Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common heart disease in cats,” mentioned Dr Anand. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) are the main causes of heart diseases in cats.
Here are a few symptoms of heart problems.
Loss of appetite
Lethargy
Difficulty in breathing
Exercise intolerance
Weak pulse
Fainting or collapsing
For diagnosis, the vet would require a brief history of your pet’s health conditions. An ECG (Electrocardiogram) would help in determining the abnormal heart rhythms, if any.
Arthritis: An increasing number of middle aged and old cats are affected by arthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease. The cartilage covering the joint wears off and as a result, the underlying bone gets a rough texture. This leads to difficulty in movement and pain. It is common for arthritis to occur in previously injured or stressed joints. The causes include – infection, trauma, injury, developmental disorders and immune system disorders.
Although arthritis is incurable, but timely detection and treatment proves to be highly beneficial. Health supplements, massage and physiotherapy are some effective treatment options.
Here are a few symptoms of arthritis:

  • Difficulty in getting up
  • Behaviour change
  • Difficulty in climbing stairs
  • Reluctance to jump and leap
  • Increased sleep
  • Limping
  • Laziness and lethargy
  • Feeling inactive
  • Unable to access perches

Many times arthritis symptoms are mistaken as normal aging signs which worsen the situation and delay the treatment.
In addition to these some other common illnesses of old cats include dental problems, cancer, liver diseases, hyperthyroidism, and bladder stones. Regular health check-ups are the best way to monitor your pet’s overall health and wellness. Timely diagnosis is a great help and would surely have a positive outcome on the treatment method. As a pet parent it is your responsibility to cater to the varying health needs of your pet.
Happy pet parenting!

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