Video: How Can We Help An Aging Cat?
We know that changes inevitably occur in the body of an aging animal. Animals are of different species and age in different ways. In some, for example, in decorative dogs, age first of all affects the activity of the heart, and in cats, the kidneys suffer. We can help our animals adapt to these changes in a variety of ways: by supporting them with various medications and nutritional supplements, diagnosing potential diseases early, and changing their habitat. Even communicating with aging four-legged friends needs to be different.
Change in nutrient requirements. As dogs age, their metabolism changes and the need for calories decreases. In cats, however, the need for energy remains practically unchanged throughout the entire period of adulthood. Obesity is one of the main problems in cats that are in their prime, but older cats tend to lose excess fat. Studies have shown that older cats, like young kittens, lack the ability to absorb fat.
Changes in the skin and hair. Like humans, cats' hair begins to turn gray with age, especially in black cats. The coat becomes thinner and lifeless, however, this can be a sign not only of aging, but also of illness or lack of nutrients. Adding fatty acids to the diet helps restore the shine of the coat. If the change in coat is very noticeable, then you should take the cat to the veterinarian.
Aging cats may require more careful grooming, with particular attention to the anal gland area. Grooming is a great way to spend a lot of pleasant moments with your cat. Most likely she really likes your increased attention. It will also help prevent mats from forming, which is a common problem with aging cats. When combing or stroking your cat, pay attention to any swellings, bumps, open wounds and consult your veterinarian right away.
The skin of an aging animal can also become thinner, less elastic, and more prone to injury. Skin wounds in older cats usually take longer to heal. Dry skin can be a problem for older cats, and here again fatty acid supplements will be useful, brushing will help stimulate the sebaceous glands and distribute natural fat throughout the coat.
Brittle claws. Aging cats become more brittle. They should be trimmed more often, as older cats sharpen their claws much less often than younger ones.
Decreased mobility. Arthritis is common in aging cats, especially if they have joint damage earlier in their life. Just like in humans, arthritis in cats can take many forms, from mild joint stiffness to severe movement disorders. It can be difficult for cats to jump into favorite spots or climb and descend stairs.
Cats have sensitivity to many anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and acetaminophen. Do not give your cat anti-inflammatory or pain medications unless prescribed by your veterinarian. And if there were, then strictly follow the indicated dosage.
Older cats lose muscle mass and muscle tone, and if the muscles are not trained, they lose strength and elasticity. It becomes difficult for cats to move, and for this reason they move less - a vicious circle arises. Exercise is very important for healthy muscles, heart and digestive system. Curiosity is peculiar even to old cats, so to stir them up different boxes, bags, not too fast toys and films for cats will help. Replace the steps with gently sloping ramps and set up a low-sided litter box for a cat that has difficulty moving around. Place the food and litter box where your cat spends the most time.
Diseases of the teeth. Diseases of the teeth are those changes in the body that are most often seen in aging cats. Research shows that 70% of older cats suffer from gum disease. Ongoing dental care, including brushing, can help minimize these diseases. Failure to take good care of your cat's teeth can lead to serious illnesses as they age, which can lead to life-threatening complications. The dental care program includes brushing, regular vet checks, and professional brushing when needed.
Weakened bowel motility (constipation). As cats age, the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract slows down. This can cause constipation, which is common in older cats. Constipation is common in cats that have pain during bowel movements, such as those with arthritis or anal gland disease. Reducing activity and drinking less fluids can also lead to constipation. Hairballs in older cats can lead to serious problems if the cat is constipated. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your cat should be given a medicine for hairballs or soaked food to prevent constipation.
Constipation can also be a sign of other serious medical conditions and the cat should definitely be seen by a veterinarian.
Weakening of immunity. As a cat gets older, its immune system does not function as efficiently, and older cats are prone to infectious diseases. And infections at this age are hard to carry, so get your cat vaccinated in time.
Decreased cardiac activity. As a cat ages, its heart works less efficiently and pumps less blood over a certain period of time than when it was young. Cats can develop a heart condition called cardiomyopathy. Methods such as X-ray, ECG, echocardiogram are used to diagnose heart disease. Different medications are prescribed depending on the diagnosis.
Decreased lung volume. As the animal ages, the lungs also lose their elasticity. For this reason, the ability to saturate the blood with oxygen decreases. Older cats can be prone to upper respiratory infections.
Deterioration of kidney function… Older animals are at increased risk of kidney disease. This can be due to changes in the kidneys themselves, or as a result of dysfunction of other organs, such as the heart, which, if malfunctioning, decreases blood flow to the kidneys. Kidney activity can be checked with a blood test or urine test. These tests will show if there are any kidney problems even before the symptoms appear. The most common sign of kidney disease that wearers notice is an increase in water intake and urination, but this usually occurs when the kidneys are already 70% destroyed. If the kidneys are not functioning properly, then a variety of medications and a diet must be used to help the body get rid of waste products. To prevent dehydration, you need to give more fluids. Before prescribing anesthetics,a blood test is recommended to determine the disease.
Deterioration of liver function. Although the liver has a unique ability to heal itself, it ages just like any other organ in the body. Its ability to cleanse the blood and produce various enzymes and proteins gradually decreases with age. Sometimes enzyme levels can be elevated in an animal that appears to be healthy. On the other hand, some animals with liver disease have normal levels of enzymes in their blood. So, according to the test results, it is difficult to judge whether there is actually a disease.
Since all drugs and anesthetics act on the liver, the dose of these drugs should be reduced if the liver is not working well. Before anesthesia is given, a blood test should be done to determine if the animal has liver problems.
Changes in the activity of the glands. As you age, some glands produce less hormones, while others, on the contrary, produce more. Hormonal disruptions, especially hyperthyroidism, are common in older cats. Older cats also have diabetes. A blood test can help diagnose these conditions. Many of them respond to medication and other types of treatment.
Changes in the mammary glands. Cats that have not had their ovaries removed may have lumps in their mammary glands due to infiltration of fibrous tissue, and they may develop cancer. Unfortunately, approximately 85% of feline breast tumors are malignant. Older cats should have their mammary glands examined regularly.
Changes in behavior. As cats age, they lose the ability to withstand stress, and as a result, their behavior changes. Aggression, fear of noise, urinary and fecal incontinence may develop or worsen in older cats. A variety of medications and behavioral techniques can help address these behavioral problems.
Do not take a kitten or other animal into the family, if you have an old cat, it will be stressful for her. It is best to take the kitten while the older animal is still in good shape, not sick, and has normal vision and hearing.
Increased sensitivity to temperature level. Older cats lose the ability to thermoregulate their body. This means that they are less adaptable to temperature changes. Cats that tolerated cold well in their youth are no longer capable of this. Monitor the ambient temperature and make adjustments if necessary to keep your cat comfortable. You may need to move her bed closer to the heat source, or purchase a heated bedding bed if you live in a cold area.
Hearing loss. Some cats experience hearing loss as they age. Minor hearing loss in cats is difficult to detect, and very often hearing almost completely disappears before the owner notices it. Aggressive behavior may be the first sign of hearing loss. The cat does not notice the approach of a person, is afraid of touch and instinctively reacts to it. Hearing loss is usually an irreversible process, but by making some adjustments to your behavior, you can help the animal adapt. Light can be used as a signal (when entering a room, quickly turn the light on and off several times). Hearing loss cats sense vibration, so clapping or stomping on the floor will alert the cat to your presence.
Eye diseases and loss of vision. Cats can lose their eyesight at any age. You will notice that the cat does not follow the toy with its eyes when it moves on the floor, it can hardly find its bowl of food, it bumps into furniture if it is moved from its usual place. Any changes in vision or the appearance of the eye require immediate contact with your veterinarian. Ophthalmologic examination must be part of the regular medical check-up program.
Aging cats can experience various changes in their bodies. In some cats they are more pronounced than in others. Age-related changes in some animals can begin at a relatively young age. There are many ways to help your cat adapt to these changes.
You need to examine your aging cat more closely. Don't blame your cat's change in activity or behavior as "old man quirks." Many of these changes can indicate serious illness. If you have any doubts, consult your veterinarian and discuss any questions you may have during your routine check-up.
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