Signs of Old Age in Cats

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    In the feline world, seniors define the term "cool cat."

    In the feline world, seniors define the term "cool cat."

    As much as devoted cat owners wish for their pets to stay young and sprightly forever, felines, like all other creatures, do indeed age. Aging seems faster for your fluffy buddies due to their shorter lifespans. Look out for the signs that your sweet companion is now a senior.

    Grooming

    Cats are famous for their immaculate grooming routines, licking themselves for what seems like most of their waking hours! However, this behavior usually tends to wane with old age -- think cats that are 10 years or older. Look out for tangled fur, inflammation and sometimes even odor issues.

    Muscle

    Senior felines tend to spend much more of their time lying around and sleeping when compared with their younger counterparts -- and understandably so. Because of this, their muscle tone significantly diminishes. Senior cats are much less flexible, and therefore engage in behaviors such as high jumping and running much less frequently.

    Appetite Loss

    Not unlike humans, some cats experience issues with their sense of smell along with advanced age. Since part of the joy of eating involves smell, this results in appetite loss. If your formerly ravenous pet just doesn't seem as interested in her meals anymore, it's very likely due to age. Naturally, the decreased appetite is often accompanied by weight loss. Some of the appetite issues also stem from difficulties with teeth -- another sign of an elderly cat. When eating hurts their teeth, they stop doing it as much.

    Graying

    Senior cats also parallel humans in that they go gray! Gray and white fur is especially common on the extremities, such as the face. Along with the cute gray hair popping up, cat fur also thins and is a lot less glossy with age. The darker a cat's fur is, the more obvious the gray is.

    Dehydration

    Older cats require more H20 than younger ones because of decreased kidney activity. However, they actually usually consume a lot less due to reduced appetite -- felines get a lot of their hydration from moistened foods. Because of this, dehydration is a common problem in elderly cats. If you have a senior kitty, vigilantly monitoring her daily water intake is a must!

    Medical Conditions

    Senior cats are prone to many health issues that are not dissimilar to those that affect humans. These conditions include arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, kidney failure, problems hearing and problems seeing. Take your senior cat to regular veterinarian checkups, especially if you notice any unusual signs. With some TLC, senior cats can live strong and happy lives for years to come.

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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