Geriatric cat medicine – My cat’s losing weight but then it’s probably due to old age?

We often see clients who bring their older cats in for a general health check and open with the phrase “I know there’s nothing you can do for him it’s just old age!” I think if the NHS thought the same about people there would be a fear of growing old. As animals age there are changes associated with the ageing process, a typical one being the cloudiness that is seen in dogs pupils. This is not always cataracts and can be something called nuclear sclerosis a natural change in the lens of the eye which occurs with age, the dogs can normally see fine. However there are also changes happening with their bodies that are not just due to ageing.

Clinical signs your elderly cat may show:

You may notice weight loss which can happen over a short or prolonged period of time, we always recommend at least 6 monthly visits to cats over 12 years old to monitor weight. Common causes of weight loss in cats include:

  • Renal disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Tumours
  • Liver disease

Your cats coat may become unkempt, which can either be due to the cat not grooming properly which can occur If they have any pain from arthritis meaning they are not as comfortable to groom. Or the coat can become greasy and unkempt because your cat has an underlying thryoid condition.

Some owners notice their cats become more vocal especially at night. This can be due to high blood pressure which in itself can be a primary problem or can be secondary to kidney disease. Not only this but cats that yowl at night or at other times of the day for no specific reason can be suffering from feline senility.

When should I worry and take my cat to the vet?

We always recommend that if your feline friend is acting out of character or showing signs that are concerning i.e. reduced appetite, drinking more than usual or weight loss (to name a few) then you should have a contact your nearest Swaynes branch. Ideally 6 month check ups are always a good idea and a chance to pick up anything that has changed since they last had a vet visit.

Some useful resources for elderly cats include:

https://icatcare.org/advice/elderly-cats

https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/health-issues-older-cat