Cats common-health-problems-that-affect-older-cats

Published on October 17th, 2014 | by Debbie Martin


Common Health Problems That Affect Older Cats

Your cat has been your sweet and loving companion for many years and they have brought you a lot of happiness as they cuddled up on your lap, purring with contentment. However as your favourite feline starts to age are you paying attention to the common health problems that affect older cats as they may begin to develop?

These days’ veterinary care and nutrition have developed significantly and cats are living longer, so it is more important than ever to be aware of their needs and conditions. We want to be able to give our cats a good quality of life for as long as possible, so make sure that you keep a close eye on your cat’s health.

Cats age a lot faster than humans, so when your cat is a year old that is an equivalent to being a 15 year old human. A two year old cat is equivalent to a 21 year old; a three year old cat is equivalent to a 25 year old, and so forth. After that, you can imagine four cat years to every human year. Therefore, if your cat is 10 years old, they are equivalent to a 53 year old human. A human in their 50s will require special medical care and a little extra attention to their health, so the same goes for your feline friend.

So what type of health problems and changes should you be watching out for in your older cat? Here are a few of the typical issues that can occur:

Kidney Disease

As your cat gets older, they can be more at risk of kidney problems. One of the reasons for this is because elderly cats tend to drink less. They will have a decreased sensitivity to thirst and they are at risk of dehydration, which can make kidney disease much more likely.

One of the signs of this is if your cat tends to urinate more frequently. Be on the lookout for urinary tract infections as well, which can develop into kidney disease in cats if they are not treated fast.


If your cat weighs more than 10 pounds, they are likely to be overweight. This can cause an older cat to be at risk for many issues including diabetes, arthritis, heart problems and much more. Adjust your cat’s diet so that you can help it to get back to its normal weight. However, make sure that you follow the advice of your veterinarian, because causing your cat to lose weight too quickly will put them at risk of kidney failure, liver failure and other serious health conditions.

Dental Disease

Dental problems can show up in older cats and they are usually a sign that the cat has had poor dental hygiene throughout its life. Some of the signs of dental problems in cats include loose teeth, bad breath, bleeding gums and recessive gums. You can prevent this from happening to your cat by buying products that help to encourage good teeth like dental treats. You could even try brushing their teeth too, ask your vet for information on where to find cat toothpaste and toothbrushes and how to properly brush a cat’s teeth.

Susceptibility to Infection

As your cat gets older, their immune system doesn’t function as well. This means that they will be more susceptible to infection, which can get quite serious if an infection progresses. This is why it is very important to keep your cat up to date on their vaccinations as they grow older – your vet will be able to advise you as to which ones are most important.


Do you notice that your cat has difficulty standing, is limping, is moving stiffly and awkwardly or has an inability to jump or run? Take your cat to the vet for a check-up, as they might be suffering from arthritis. Your vet will be able to prescribe some medications which will help them to suppress the pain that is inhibiting their movement.

If your cat is getting older, it is recommended that you take them for an annual exam at the vet and make sure that they receive additional checks such as urine analysis and blood pressure measurement. From the age of 11 they should also have their annual blood test and their vet visit should be twice every year, just to keep a close eye on any potential health problems that might develop.

An aging cat will be more susceptible to health problems, but with a little tender loving care and attention you can ensure that your feline friend lives a long and happy life.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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