THE ELDERLY CAT.
While a feral cat will be lucky to live to the age of to years, pet cats have a considerably longer life expectancy. The normal lifespan is about 14 years, but it is not unusual for cats to live to be 16 or 17 years old. Cats that survive even longer than that are the exception rather than the rule, but cats of over 20 years are reported, absolute maximum lifespan for a cat is between 20 and 30. The oldest recorded cat was 34 years. WHAT SIGNS MAY I NOTICE WHEN MY CAT GETS OLD?
Many cats are surprisingly resistant to the effects of old age, but you will probably find that your cat will gradually become less active and sleep for long hours in a favourite warm spot. Some cats may put on weight, but most older cats tend to slowly lose weight and may well develop an increased thirst. Failing eyesight and deafness are common in old cats but do not necessarily mean that the cat has to he put to sleep. With a little extra care and attention, such cats can learn to cope very well in familiar surroundings.
WHAT EXTRA CARE WILL MY ELDERLY CAT NEED?
Regular veterinary check-ups are a good idea to pick up problems early. Many elderly cats will need more grooming than when they were younger and will be less able to cope with the hair they swallow. The nails of an elderly cat may well overgrow, even to the point where they begin to curl around and grow back into the pads of the feet again. If necessary, the should be regularly clipped well before they reach that state. Be sure that your older cat has a warm and draughtfree bed to go to and try to discourage hint from staying outside for too long in very cold weather. Older cats will often drink more water than when they were younger, and a plentiful supply of fresh water must be availalble at all times.
IS THERE ANY SPECIAL DIET I SHOULD FEED MY CAT WHEN HE GETS OLDER?
While many cats are pretty fussy eaters at the best of times, you can probably expect your cat to become even more choosy in his eating habits as he ages. Good quality, easily digested sources of protein should be fed, such as fish, rabbit, chicken and cooked eggs, together with a reputable balanced mineral supplement. If your cat is losing weight, you should try to encourage him to eat starchy foods as well as meat. This is not very popular with many cats, but you could experiment with foods such as rice, pasta with butter, bread and butter, potato chips and potatoes. Older cats will often want to eat smaller and more frequent meals, and should be fed on demand. If your car is overweight it should get reduced calorie intake and if underweight is needs increase in calorie intake to restore normal body weight.
There are several disease problems that can occur in elderly cats, and owners should be on their guard for signs of them. It is always wise to turn to your veterinarian for advice as soon as you notice a problem the use of home or pet shop remedies can he harmful and will probably allow the condition to become more firmly entrenched before effective treatment is started.
Constipation Occasionally, elderly cats develop a lazy bowel, resulting in bouts of constipation. Some owners become very concerned if their cat does not have a bowel movement every day, but there is generally no need to worry unless your cat is straining and unable to move its bowels or has not moved them for several days. Do not confuse straining due to constipation with straining due to a urinary obstruction the latter is a serious problem and requires immediate veterinary attention.. If your cat does suffer from constipation, give a teaspoonful of mineral oil daily for a few days if the cat does not have a bowel movement within 24 hours or if it becomes distressed, contact your veterinarian. Frequent dosing with mineral oil may affect the absorption of certain vitamins, and a balanced vitamin supplement should he given to compensate.
WEIGHT LOSS AND INCREASED THIRST
it is very common for elderly cats to lose weight. gradually and drink more fluids. This may be a part of your cats natural ageing process, but could be due to a specific disease that requires treatment. Chronic renal failure s common in old cats and is a major cause of death. It is a slowly progressive condition and it is believed that proper clinical management may delay or stop progression. Dietary management is very inportant in the management of renal disease in older animals. Your veterinarian will advice you about your pet's diet which may help slow the progression of kidney disease.
Weight loss and increased appetit can point to a hyperthyroidism.
Tumors and cancer. Neoplasia is common in older cats. Check your cat regulary for any changes in the skin and udder. Mamma tumors are frequently found in female older cats.
Regular veterinary checks every six or nine months are a good idea for your cat anyway, but if you notice a fairly sudden increase in drinking or a severe loss of weight, you should have your cat checked without delay, it is a good idea to weigh elderly cats every two or three months and keep a note of their weight so that you will know if they are losing or gaining it can be very difficult to detect changes by sight alone
( from the Cat Care Manual, Bradley Viner)