Not unlike humans, cats experience changes in weight due to the aging process -- it is only natural. When your precious pet reaches 10 years old or so, it is more important than ever to monitor his weight. Remember, his health, happiness and future are partially in your hands.
When a cat grows older, he may experience bowel problems that bring upon difficulties in nutrient and fat absorption. These factors often trigger loss in weight, as well as constipation. Take a look at your sweet senior. Ask yourself if he looks unusually thin or if his bones jut out. Consider whether he is regularly going number 2, and whether his stool looks firm and healthy. Gastrointestinal issues are common in elderly cats.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, weight gain is also a problem for older cats, although usually to a lesser degree. With aging, cats usually become a lot less physically active. Young and sprightly cats are constantly roaming around, jumping and chasing after things -- and that definitely slows with old age. If your cuddly senior spends most of his day asleep, with a filled food bowl just steps away, it should come as no surprise that he may be piling on the pounds.
Regular aging isn't the only reason many elderly cats gain or lose weight. Sometimes changes in weight point to health problems including diabetes, thyroid issues, cancer, high blood pressure, cancer, liver disease and many others. Because of these possibilities, it is important to take your cat to the veterinarian for regular checkups. Although weight changes could just be part of aging, they also could be a sign of something a lot more serious, especially if they are dramatic. Get your cat checked out immediately -- you both will be glad you did.
As your cat gets older, slowly change his diet to suit his needs. Around 7 years in age, felines tend to begin experiencing differences in metabolic functioning. Speak to your cat's veterinarian about what you can do at home to accommodate this, dietwise. He or she may suggest upping your cat's vitamin E and protein intake while reducing fat intake.
Making sure that your pet stays physically active in old age is also essential. Without regular exercise, weight gain is almost inevitable. Encourage your cat to play and be active on a daily basis, whether it's chasing after her toy ball or playing hide and seek with you. Not only does physical activity manage your pet's weight, it offers other important health benefits such as raising blood circulation and toning muscle -- not bad.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.