Common Health Problems of
Older Cats

As cats age, they become more susceptible to disease. Keep an eye out for these symptoms.

By Cherie Langlois

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Keep this list handy. If you notice your cat exhibiting any of the symptoms, contact your veterinarian.
Chronic Kidney Disease. Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, reduced activity, appetite loss, vomiting, hypertension, anemia and dehydration. The disease is incurable but can be managed with special diets, extra fluids and medications. Kidney transplants have been performed in extreme cases.
Dental Disease. Symptoms include bad breath, appetite and weight loss, drooling, and tartar buildup on teeth. Treatment is regular teeth cleaning.
Hyperthyroidism. Symptoms include increased appetite and thirst, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, hypertension, and hyperactivity. Treatment involves lifelong medication, radioiodine therapy or surgery to remove affected thyroid lobes.
Arthritis. Symptoms include stiffness, decrease in activity, lameness and posture changes. Check with your veterinarian about appropriate medications to relieve pain and inflammation.
Cancer (Neoplasia). Symptoms include abnormal swellings or lumps, weight loss, appetite loss, vomiting, bowel changes, breathing difficulties, bleeding or discharge from body openings. Treatment involves removal of tumor and/or chemotherapy.
Diabetes. Symptoms include increased thirst and appetite, weight loss and increased urine output. Some cats can get by with oral medication, but the majority require daily insulin shots. Treatment also involves dietary management.
Megacolon (enlarged colon). Symptoms include constipation and straining. Treatment involves a feline-specific enema given by your veterinarian, dietary management, medication and sometimes surgery.
Heart/Circulatory Disorders. Symptoms include lack of energy, appetite loss, resting flat on breastbone, panting and paralysis of rear limbs. Treatment involves medication and dietary management.
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Common Health Problems of
Older Cats

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Reader Comments

Cheryl    Lockwood, NY

9/22/2010 6:32:56 PM

I am 53 years old and always had a multiple cat home since I knew how to walk. In my opinion, our pets never had all these cancers and medical problems until we started feeding them food with preservatives.But what can we do now, it's just the way it is.

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

3/14/2010 3:40:47 AM

good article thanks

mimi    New York, NY

1/26/2010 11:28:00 AM

my american shorthair-mix tabby cat is 9 years old in human years, he was a stray when he was a baby, now a fully indoor cat , and has had no medical problems until now. a few weeks ago, he began throwing up (-_-) and we dont know why, one of the times it apeared to be bloody. is it just that he eats too fast, as i originally thought, or is there something worse wrong?

Leslie    Henderson, NV

8/14/2008 9:00:08 PM

I have a domestic short hair indoor spoiled cat. She is 15 trs old, & wants to eat every hour or more. She is very tiny, full of energy, looks healthy, & I have taken her to Vet twice for this, & all tests are negative. It seems to be getting worse not better. All Chem profiles are normal, ie, glucose, thyroid, bun, sgot,etc. What do you think this could be? Xrays normal too, gets dental cleanings?Please Help??, Leslie

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