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Appetite

Be alert for any changes in your cat’s

appetite –whether this is for the ‘better’

or worse.

Some conditions seen commonly

in older cats can manifest as an increase in

appetite rather than a decrease, so both are

significant things to notice. It is also worth

noting whether their preferences for different

food types have changed – cats that have

always eaten dry food and now prefer wet, or

just lick at gravy, may be trying to tell us they

have some oral discomfort or dental disease.

Drinking habits

Increasedwater intake (often accompanied

byanincreaseinurineoutput)canbeanearly

warning sign of a number of conditions we

seeinoldercats

– for example, kidney disease,

diabetes or hyperthyroidism. Blood and urine

tests, and sometimes further investigations,

can be necessary to diagnose the problem.

Many of the conditions will be treatable.

Mobility

The signs of osteoarthritis in cats are

generally much more subtle than in dogs, who

are quicker to let us know there is a problem.

They tend todevelop amore generalised

‘stiff’gait rather than any obvious lameness.

Owners will often notice that they are more

hesitant to jump up onto laps and surfaces,

however, it is not uncommon for people to

simply report that their cat has become less

active, increasingly grumpy, or reluctant to

be handled. On clinical examination we often

find that there is a degree of muscle loss over

the hind legs and pelvis, as the cats are using

these muscles less due to joint pain.

There

are excellent medications now available

to help control the pain and inflammation

associatedwith this condition,sodobook an

appointment to see us if you’re concerned.

Weight loss

Sometimes weight loss can be rapid and

obvious, but in older cats it is often more

insidious. It is worth paying attention to

things like how they feel when you pick

them up, and whether their bones feel any

more prominent than they used to.

Weight

loss canbe generalised,or in conditions like

osteoarthritis, you may notice that they

seemtohave lost a disproportionate amount

of conditionover the back end.

There are

hundreds of possible causes of weight loss,

many of which can be easily treated.

Litter tray

Winter is a nice time to notice subtle changes

in toileting habits as cats often use their

litter trays more when it is cold outside!

Look out for changes in the frequency

or volume of urination, or the presence

of any blood.Likewise try and keep an eye

on the consistency of faeces andnote any

changes,orthepresenceofbloodormucus.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is not

uncommon in older cats and can result in

persistent or intermittent diarrhoea (and

sometimes vomiting). If a cat who has always

been well litter-trained suddenly starts

missing the tray or having accidents in the

house this is also worth mentioning.

We are always happy to see any of

our patients for a check-up and a

chat to make sure that everything is

okay with them, especially our older

patients – it is never a waste of time

and will give you a chance to raise

any questions or concerns you may

have. Let us know if you would like to

make an appointment - just call us on

0121 712 7070.

Care of your senior cat...

With the days getting shorter and cats starting to spend more of their time indoors, the winter is

a good time to spot subtle changes in their habits and behaviour which may not have been obvious

before. Keeping an eye on your cat, especially your older cat, may give you clues if anything is not quite right.

For further information on senior cats

please see our Looking after your Senior Cat

Information Sheet:

www.willows.uk.net/senior-cat

Amy Knapman

BVSc MRCVS

General Practice Service Clinician