September 2018: Vet's Advice
Common health problems in older cats
In my opinion, the two commonest causes of weight loss and illness in our older cats are hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease. The majority of cats with these problems are older than 7 years old and unfortunately there is little you can do to prevent them. Up to 10% of geriatric cats develop hyperthyroidism in their lives and up to 20-50% of cats over 15 years old will have some degree of kidney disease present. And about 35% of cats with hyperthyroidism also have kidney disease too! However, with good management and treatment these cats do very well and go on to live long and happy lives.
Hyperthyroidism basically means that the thyroid glands, which are found in the neck, are over active and producing too much hormone. This high level of hormone increases the cat’s metabolism. They typically lose weight, are very hungry and sometimes have tummy upsets. When we see the cat at the vets we may be able to feel an enlarged gland and hear a rapid heart rate. We will often take a blood sample to check the thyroid gland. Treatment can include a quick surgery to remove the gland, long term medication or specialist radioactive iodine treatment. These cats do very well and can be completely cured!
Chronic kidney disease means that over time the kidneys have worn out or become damaged and are therefore not able to function as well as they once did. The kidneys clear toxins and waste products from the body in the urine. Your cat will typically lose weight, drink more and their appetite will change.
When we see the cat at the vets we will often take a blood sample to check if waste products are building up in the body. Depending on each individual cat, we may do further tests or begin treatment. The kidney cannot regain full function and so we have to look after them. It may be as simple as just changing to a prescription diet and keeping the water bowl topped up.
If you are in any way worried about your elderly cat then please let us know because we can help your beautiful feline friends to live to a ripe old age!