Senior Cat Health Care

Age is not necessarily a disease but, as we all can attest to, there are certainly more complications associated with aging. This is also true for our feline patients who are masters of hiding disease. By the time a cat starts showing clinical signs, we are already behind the game. We want to examine and talk to you about your cat at least twice a year, if not more often.  By screening for common age related diseases, we are able to diagnose a condition before they get sick. This goes a long ways in healthy management and extending the time and quality of life you have with your family member.

Frequently Asked Questions

My cat just sleeps a lot, is that normal?

Most cats sleep between 16-18 hours per days. Because cats are hunters they are most active at dawn and dusk-the time when their prey is most active.  Even though it seems like your cat may be sleeping, they are always keeping an ear and eye open for predators.  However, increased sleeping, sleeping/hiding in different places or other changes in his/her activity and sleep schedule can signify a medical problem. If you notice any changes, please contact us.

I just lost my dear friend of 19 years. Should I get another cat?

First, please accept our condolences on the loss of your beloved friend. The members of the Cat Care Clinic Team understand only too well about losses of so many cats we have loved – those that we have cared for and our own personal losses.

We hope that you have family or friends who understand your loss and can comfort you at this time. Unfortunately, we have had many clients tell us that we are the only ones who understand. That everyone else says, “It’s just a cat. Get over it.” It hurts to even think about it. As mad and upset as I get about those comments, I have decided that those people are the ones that have the biggest loss – they don’t understand that deep, loving connection between a beloved pet and their people.  We have many resources on Pet Loss Support at our clinic to help you

In answer to your question about adopting another cat, there is no right or wrong time. Each person is different, and some people get another kitty the next day, some wait up to 5 years, or decide they can’t get another kitty. Most importantly, please recognize that this kitty will not replace Patches. Comparing the 2 can be the most upsetting experience, as I personally have learned. If your heart is open to new antics and ways of loving another kitty, regardless of his or her disposition, then you are ready for another cat.

And when you are ready, the need is great. There are so many cats in need of good homes.

Think about what kind of cat you want. A kitten can be lots of fun, but is a big change from a senior kitty. Please stop by the clinic for more information on pet adoption. Look for a kitten or cat that is affectionate with people, and that appears healthy. It is important to take the adopted cat for a physical exam and other testing as soon as you adopt the cat – even before taking him or her home.

If you would like extensive advice on adopting a new cat, regardless of state you reside in, you can also call to schedule a phone consultation with cat behaviorist, Dr. Ilona Rodan.

How do I prevent cancer?

There are some cancers that can be prevented or reduced. If a female cat is spayed before the first heat, or at least before 12 months of age, there is a greatly reduced chance of breast cancer. Also, because a spay is a complete ovariohysterectomy, it eliminates the chance of cancer of the uterus and ovaries.

There are some forms of lymphoma that are caused by the contagious feline leukemia virus (most intestinal lymphomas are not). Keeping Georgia away from cats that may have feline leukemia virus is important. If Georgia goes outside and is exposed to other cats, the feline leukemia virus vaccination is recommended.

Other cancers usually occur in senior cats. Since the cause is unknown, they are difficult to prevent. Early detection and treatment are most helpful in these situations. These can be done with home monitoring for bumps or lumps, and having your cat examined right away if any are found. Since cancer of the abdominal organs (e.g., bladder, pancreas, liver), chest, and bones cannot usually be detected at home, it is important to have complete wellness exams done every 6 months, and whenever you notice a change in behavior or health. Many of these signs are also seen with noncancerous conditions, but they still warrant prompt attention by a veterinarian to determine the cause.

10 Common Signs of Cancer in Cats and Dogs, by the Veterinary Cancer Society
Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
Sores that do not heal
Weight loss
Loss of appetite
Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
Offensive odor
Difficulty eating or swallowing
Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
Persistent lameness or stiffness
Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating
Is cancer treatable?
Cancer is frequently treatable, and early diagnosis is important. In some cases, surgery to remove the tumor is all that is needed. In other cases, chemotherapy or radiation treatment are needed, or a combination of treatments. We will refer you to an oncologist if such additional treatments are needed.

Chemotherapy in cats is not as difficult as it is in people; this is because the cat’s length of life span is shorter than ours, meaning that we only need enough chemotherapy to put the cancer into remission, hopefully long-term for the cat. Also, we have 2 rules to cancer treatment: medications to ensure that the cat feels no pain and has no nausea.

How long do cats live?

There is a direct correlation between cat lifespan and level of veterinary care that they receive.  On average, it is reported that cats live around 15 years.  However, we frequently track this for our interest and at Cat Care Clinic, where our clients are diligent about regular veterinary visits (including preventative care and early treatment and management of chronic conditions.   Our patients often live comfortably up to 20 years. Our eldest cat lived to be 28 years old.  Of course, genetics, living conditions (indoor vs outdoor) and obesity can all factor into a cat’s lifespan.  Quality of life often outweighs quantity of life, and we strive for the best of both!