Signs of Aging in Cats
There is no one specific age that classifies a cat as senior. Like people, some cats age faster than others. Generally speaking, however, older cats can be placed into one of three groups:
- Mature or middle-aged: 7–10 years (44–56 years for humans)
- Senior: 11–14 years (60-72 years for humans)
- Geriatric: 15+ years (76+ years for humans)
Some of the common changes associated with aging include:
- Altered sleep-wake cycle
- Changes in vision
- Appearance of brown spots in the iris
- Decreased sense of smell Brittle nails
- Decreased lung reserve
- Heart or circulatory problems
- Decreased digestion and ability to absorb nutrients
- Loose, less-elastic skin
- Reduced ability to handle stress
- Changes in behavior.
Understanding aging changes, as well as what constitutes “normal” developments and what signals signs of treatable conditions, can be challenging. Some owners might think that, unlike dogs, cats do not need to visit the veterinarian on an ongoing basis, outside of scheduled vaccinations. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, by regularly taking your cat to a veterinarian, illness can be diagnosed early and age-related health conditions are delayed or managed.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that healthy older cats be examined by a veterinarian every six months. In the life of a senior cat, six months is about the same as two years for a person — long enough for significant health changes to occur.
A senior cat wellness visit may consist of updating vaccinations, parasite prevention and treatment, and checking:
- Weight and body condition
- Skin and coat quality
- Mouth, gums and teeth
- Eyes and ears
- Thyroid gland
- Heart and lungs
- Joints and muscles
- Any changes in condition from previous examinations
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