A cat lives on average 14 to 16 years old and there are even cats that are over 20 years old! Of course, if they live in an apartment or a house, away from the dangers of the road, if they are sterilized and protected from the most common diseases, the chances of a long and happy life are greatly increased. Caring for an older cat means being even more attentive to the symptoms of different diseases.
Older cats have a more vulnerable immune system and are therefore more exposed to viruses and infections: eating habits (loss of appetite, excessive thirst or hunger and difficulty swallowing) must be constantly monitored.
The onset of a cat’s aging is generally around the 10 years of its life. From this age, you are advised to carry out a complete annual health check: clinical examinations, blood tests and any evaluation deemed necessary in the event of symptoms of illness. It is also important to pay close attention to sudden changes in the animal’s habits and to avoid stress as much as possible.
What are the first signs of aging?
The first signs of aging are visible in the hair, which forms like small “tufts”, indicative of a certain dehydration and a more basic toilet. Too much thinning (muscle atrophy, decrease in the efficiency of the digestive system), slower and less agile movements (arthritis pain), a very veiled iris, falling incisors, damaged canines and molars with tartar, are also symptoms of aging.
One of the main requirements for these changes is diet. As with humans, the efficiency of the digestive system is diminished, and senior cats may lack appetite and have difficulty chewing. All of these small pathologies can lead to significant weight loss.
Especially when it comes to food, the older cat may seem more difficult, as their sensory perceptions decrease and they are therefore less sensitive to odors as before. To stimulate her appetite better, you can, for example, heat her food slightly, so that she can spread a more appetizing scent. If you are experiencing chewing issues, you may want to consider switching from dry to wet food.
The energy requirements of an elderly cat are obviously lower than those of a kitten or an adult cat. To avoid obesity, preferably choose specific foods for older cats and follow the instructions according to the cat’s weight, age, physical activity (depending on whether the cat lives indoors or outdoors) ) and whether or not it is sterilized.
It is also advisable to supplement your diet with polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The following aspects should be watched very closely:
– The teeth : With age the teeth can create problems for the cat and cause repeated and painful gingivitis. It is therefore necessary to check them regularly and to seek advice from the veterinarian if extraction, scaling or any other therapy is necessary.
– The hair: With age, the cat becomes less agile and it can no longer groom itself as before. His hair then becomes more opaque, greasy and with dandruff. It is not advisable to wash “old cats”, unless it is more than essential: get in the habit of cleaning it with a neutral disposable towel (like the one used for children) and brush it delicately. . In addition to a better appearance and healthier skin and hair, this will create a moment of great bonding between your pet and yourself.
– Arthritis and muscular hypotonia: Old tomcats, through laziness or due to infirmities due to their age, may suffer from muscle hypotonia, or a decrease in muscle tone. You should therefore encourage him to move around and play with small balls, or other catnip-based games.
– Eyes and ears: Hearing may be reduced, but generally this does not have a severe impact on the cat’s lifestyle. For the eyes, cataracts are one of the most common pathologies, but cats have considerable adaptability to progressive loss of sight. Sudden blindness (the cat is more and more disoriented, with the pupils more and more dilated) is on the other hand caused by a detachment of the retina (because of a renal failure) and it is irreversible. If this were to happen to your four-legged friend, do not be upset, because in this case too, he will be able to adapt very well to his new environment.
– Cognitive dysfunction: It can happen that an elderly cat changes its behavior, which cannot be explained by degraded health conditions. This is mainly associated with the aging of the brain: this is called “cognitive dysfunction syndrome”, more commonly known as senile dementia. The most common symptom is the appearance of an altered sleep-wake cycle in the cat, which no longer sleeps at night, but wanders around the house meowing plaintively and without being able to comfort or comfort it. calm. The most suitable treatment for treating and curing this type of pathology is the use of antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C as well as omega fatty acids. Numerous studies have shown that these substances can very effectively protect the brain cell.
They are not very common, but neoplasias can occur in cats. Animals with tumors lose weight very quickly and stop eating. A consultation with the veterinarian is essential, so that he can establish a more complete diagnosis and verify the presence of other symptoms, such as jaundice or dyspnea.
Finally, it is important to point out that one of the main causes of death in older cats is chronic kidney disease. If your cat eats very little and pees very often, take him straight away to the vet for a blood test to assess the presence or progression of a chronic disease.
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