As a pet parent, you may not like to think about the fact that your cat is getting older, perhaps because of the risks that come with age, such as cancer, arthritis, brain ageing and kidney disease. But even if your cat is ageing, he or she can now live a longer, healthier life thanks to better care and nutrition.
It’s not always easy to spot the signs that your cat is ageing. If your cat is aged 7 and over they are considered senior even if the signs of ageing are not visible. “It’s not just what you see on the outside that counts. We know that inside every cell in the body, ageing is occurring,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, Nutritional Advisor at Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
Cats are also great pretenders and are not ones for making a big scene whenever they feel under the weather. “But cats are susceptible to just as many symptoms of ageing as the rest of us. The good news is that astute pet parents can spot the signs of ageing once they know the small changes to look out for,” adds Dr. Fyvie.
Signs of ageing can include:
- Activity Changes. Your cat may no longer be as interested in normal activities such as eating, grooming and exploring their environment. Instead, they may become restless and anxious, pacing around the house or fixating on objects or people.
- Social Interaction Changes. Your older cat may stop socialising with you as much, losing interest in being petted, greeting you at the door or even sitting on your lap.
- Changes to their sleeping habits. As your pet ages you may notice changes in their sleep patterns, which could indicate a brain dysfunction. This can include: being awake more at night or sleeping more in the day. If your cat is restless or sleeps fitfully, there could be a problem.
- Confusion. Your cat may be perplexed by the things that he/she used to experience simply before, such as locating their bed, bowls and litter box or navigating through the cat flap. Your cat may also get stuck more frequently or find it difficult to pace around familiar obstacles like couches, coffee tables or even people.
- Loss of control. Kidney disease is very common in older cats and is the leading cause of illness. If your cat is drinking and urinating more, then this could be a sign that the kidneys are not functioning as they should. Your cat may also urinate or defecate in the house or outside the litter box. If they do something out of the ordinary when it comes to their elimination routine – there should be cause for concern. If you notice that there are changes in how your cat is using their litterbox, it could be a sign of several conditions, including pain, bladder and kidney function and possible loss of brain function. Loss of weight and appetite can also be an indication of renal problems.
Getting help for your ageing cat
If you notice any of the above signs of ageing in your cat it’s vital to make an appointment with your veterinarian. “It’s important to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may cause some of the age-related signs before arriving at any conclusion,” says Dr. Fyvie.
Following your visit, you may have to make some changes to ensure your pet is comfortable, like rearranging furniture or making a change in the food that you choose to feed them.
You may feel guilty about changing your pet’s favourite food but it’s important for their health to be on the right diet for their age. Research shows that nutrition affects how your pet’s cells function. The right nutrition can help protect cells and fight the effects of ageing. Keep your 7+ cat in the game with Hill’sTM Science PlanTM Youthful Vitality. This breakthrough nutrition is formulated with natural ingredients to help support your pet’s ongoing vitality through increased activity, interaction and mobility.
“Getting older doesn’t have to slow your pet down. If you recognise any of the signs of ageing in your dog or cat, consult with your veterinarian to determine the best action plan, including nutrition,” says Dr. Fyvie.