Senior feline care: They might need more than you think | SierraSun.com

Senior feline care: They might need more than you think

Gina Kang
Special to the Sun

Jack is 12-years-old and looking good

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Caring for senior cats may seem straightforward, but they can be more difficult to "read" if they are not feeling well. Sometimes cats can be a lot more ill than you realize. Here are some things to watch out for in your older cat to keep them happy and healthy.

Dental disease: Bad breath is not normal in cats. Severe bad breath can indicate many diseases such as severe dental disease and kidney disease.

Gastrointestinal disease: Vomiting more than two times per month may not be normal for cats. A recent study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that cats that vomit at least two times per month should be evaluated to look for underlying disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or GI cancer.

Appetite and weight: If your cat suddenly has a voracious appetite and is losing weight, he or she may be having some endocrine disorders such as diabetes or thyroid problems. Monitoring your cat's weight can be a good indicator of your cat's health. Even a 1-pound weight loss can be concerning in a cat. For an 8-pound cat, that's a 12 percent weight loss!

Drinking and urination: Is your cat suddenly drinking a lot of water and leaving lots of wet clumps in the litter box? Increased urination and drinking can indicate diseases such as diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease. These are very treatable diseases and with the correct treatments, your cat could still have a great quality of life. However, left untreated, these diseases can progress to the point where common, easier treatments will not help.

Arthritis: Older cats can develop arthritis that decreases their ability to get into the litter box or make bigger jumps. Your cat may benefit from supplements, physical therapy, and/or acupuncture.

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For more information regarding your cat's health click here.

Gina Kang, DVM, MS, lives in Truckee and works at the Doctor's Office for Pets on 10939A Industrial Way, No. 101, Truckee. She sees all pets including cats, dogs, reptiles, birds and small mammals. More information can be found at http://www.doctorsofficeforpets.com or call 530-587-5144.