How does your pet's age compare to the human life span?
Exams: For most cats, middle-age occurs around 7 years of age. As they approach the senior and geriatric years, consider a more specialized approach to your pet's medical care. Because 1 human year equals several cat years, your pet should be examined more often than annually. (Think of human seniors only seeing the doctor every 5 or 10 years!) Because cats age faster, a comprehensive physical exam should be conducted every 6 months to allow early detection of problems.
Changes: As animals age, the internal organs can begin to fail. Because we cannot see the organs, you might not know there is a problem until it is too late to prevent permanent damage. It is very important that any changes-even very subtle changes-be observed. Watch for weight loss, increased drinking, increased urination, and changes in eating, sleeping, and activity. Things to watch for physically include bad breath, unusual odors, skin and hair coat changes, loss of eyesight or hearing, and lumps in or under the skin. Please record any observations and bring these to our attention. Your observations at home are very important in helping us determine if there is a problem and what it might be. Some syndromes that are very common in older kitties include chronic renal (kidney) failure, hyperthyroidism, cancer, diabetes, and liver disease. For more information, visit some of the links on our Links Page.
Changes to watch for in your aging kitty:
Increased (or decreased) appetite
Increased urination (or habit changes)
Increased sleeping (is that possible?!)
Tests: In addition to what we learn from you, diagnostic tests yield a wealth of information that we might not otherwise know. Since we cannot see the organs, information about their function gained through testing is extremely important. A minimum database should include a blood pressure measurement, complete blood count, chemistry profile, thyroid level, and urinalysis to tell us about various organs.
If possible, animals should be fasted for a few hours prior to blood work so the results are most accurate.
Overview: Senior care focuses on client education, preventing problems if possible, and detecting medical and behavioral problems early. The overall goal is to improve the pet's quality of life, not just increase longevity.