Humans aren’t the only ones concerned with aging gracefully. Cats are considered to be elderly once they reach 11 years with senior cats defined as those aged between 11-14 years and geriatric cats 15 years and upwards. When caring for older cats it sometimes helps to appreciate their age in human terms. The first two years of a cat’s life equate to 24 human years and every year thereafter is equivalent to 4 human years. For example, a 16 year old cat would be equivalent to an 80 year old human.
Seven illnesses senior cats are prone to: chronic kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, dental disease and cancer. Senior cats may be plagued by more than one of diseases at the same time. Some cats may struggle with several different diseases, making diagnosis and management of these cats more challenging.
Senior cats require regular veterinary care. All cats should be examined by a veterinarian at least yearly but, for senior cats, twice yearly may be more appropriate. These veterinary visits are the best way to stay on top of your cat’s health. Most illnesses are easier to treat if diagnosed early. Early diagnosis and treatment may extend your cat’s life and contribute significantly to your cat’s quality of life.
A veterinary visit should consist of, at a minimum, a thorough physical examination. Your veterinarian likely will also need to perform blood and urine tests. In some cases, other testing (such as radiographs or X-rays) may be necessary as well.