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Arthritis In Cats And Other Age-Related Problems Are Treatable

Arthritis in cats and other age-related health problems receive a lot of attention from the Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital team in our senior cat life stage program. No matter how much you love your cat, you can’t stop the clock from ticking, but you can help him live longer and enjoy his “golden years” in comfort.

When your cat reaches his senior years and you’ll have to make sure that your pet gets the special care he needs, which is different from what was necessary in his younger years.

Arthritis in cats and other age-related health problems may arise, and you have to be even more attentive in seeing that your feline friend gets the appropriate care. The good news is that cats are living longer nowadays thanks to the improved focus on routine preventative healthcare for pets.

As veterinarians, we are on the forefront of the fight to help all cats live not only longer but also healthier and more fulfilling lives. Our animal hospital follows the standards and recommendations set forth by the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the Academy of Feline Medicine (AAF/AFM).

Determining Senior Years in Cats 

Our senior life stage program considers cats seniors from eight to fourteen years old, after that they move on to the geriatric life stage. As your cat enters their senior years internal changes such as decreased kidney and liver function can start to occur, as well as arthritic changes and you may or may not notice any changes outwardly.

Crucial Goals of Senior Cat Care

One goal of senior cat care is to identify, manage and treat age related disease early on when we can still make a difference. It’s also important to prevent progression of disease and at the same time, provide a good of quality life.

Our veterinarians work towards these goals in their care of senior cats:

Recognize and control health-risk factors.
Determine the presence of disease as early as possible.
Correct or delay the progress of current health problems.
Improve or maintain residual function of aging organs such as kidneys and liver.
Ensure good quality of life.

For instance, you may not know how common arthritis is in older cats. A recent study revealed that 70% of cats over 9 years old have arthritis and over 95% of cats over 12 are affected by arthritis. There are many treatments that can help cats with arthritis. There is a veterinary form of glucosamine for cats that can be very helpful in managing arthritis.  Other treatments include easy to administer pain medications, arthritis diets and laser therapy.

It is important to note that often owners of senior cats confuse signs of arthritis with signs of “ageing”. Unlike dogs, cats don’t tend to limp or have difficulty lying down or getting up when they suffer from arthritis. The most common symptoms of arthritis in cats is simply not moving around as much. Owners often think they are simply “slowing down with age” whereas they are actually experiencing discomfort or pain that can be relieved!

A senior check up can help diagnose arthritis and help your cat feel more like a kitten again!

Please ensure your senior cat gets regular checkups, we would love to help make him feel better.

Recommended Health Care for Senior Cats 

All cats should have a complete check-up annually but when they reach their senior years, they should have a complete exam every 6 months. This is important even though they may appear healthy externally. The goal of a preventive senior exam is to pick up early changes, and slow or prevent the onset of disease.

A good example of an age related disease that can cause serious disease in older cats is hyperthyroidism.  It is one of the most common senior diseases in cats and one of the most treatable if caught early. Left untreated, severe weight loss, heart disease and liver disease result, but if diagnosed and treated early before any signs develop, all the symptoms are preventable. A physical examination and blood test provides the diagnosis and will add years to your cats life.

Subtle changes in behaviour should be noted in senior cats as these can serve as clues to health problems. It is important to watch for symptoms of increased thirst or urination, change in appetite, increased restlessness or vocalization, any vomiting or weight loss. These can be clues to senior diseases like kidney disease, diabetes and hyperthyroidism. if you notice these signs between checkups, don’t wait, bring your cat in right away.

Bring your senior cat to our vet for a thorough physical examination at least twice year, which will include a check of the following:

  • A complete thorough nose to toes physical examination -  paying special attention to senior issues, such as checking the thyroid glands, feeling the kidneys and feeling the joints  carefully for signs of arthritis and listening to the heart to check for heart murmurs.
  • Dental examination – it is very important to deal with any dental disease as this causes pain for older cats and adversely affects the heart, kidney and liver which are often already weaker in older cats.
  • Body condition - weight and pain evaluation.
  • Blood pressure measurement – very important in senior cats as they are prone to high blood pressure.
  • Senior Preventive Blood Panel – this blood test tells us how the internal organs are functioning, and about your cats red and white cell counts as well as thyroid function.
  • Complete urinalysis to better evaluate the kidneys and check for any infections or crystals.

Bring your pet to our animal care hospital for a regular checkup to ensure that age-related health problems such as arthritis in cats will be detected and treated immediately.

To book an appointment for a senior cat exam or for more information about arthritis in cats and other senior cat care matters, call us at the Kennedy Heights Animal Hospital at 604-591-5304.

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