Sheila has been right by your side for more than a decade. Your cat is always delighted to see you and never fails to make you smile. Since she's in her golden years now, you'll notice some behavioral and physical changes, including graying fur. Gray hairs or patches are perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.
Change in Fur Color
Much like humans, cats get a few straggly gray hairs as they age, because they lose pigmentation in their fur. Most often, kitties go gray around their eyes and mouth first. As she gets older, your cat will probably have random gray patches all over her body, although this doesn't happen in every feline.
In addition to going gray, Sheila might lose some of her hair. As she ages her skin becomes a little rigid, forcing some of her fur to fall out. She shouldn't be losing clumps of fur every time you pet her, but you'll notice some thin spots here and there.
You don't need to do anything about your cat's gray hairs. She doesn't mind them, and she doesn't need a color change like you might prefer for yourself. However, you should brush her frequently as she gets older. Brushing not only removes old, loose hair, it improves circulation. As an added bonus, with brushing the sebaceous glands in her skin will excrete more oil to keep her coat pristine and shiny.
Although gray fur isn't generally a concern, keeping up on Sheila's routine exams is important. Turning gray at an early age, or hairs that turn gray and immediately fall out, can be warning signs of something serious in a cat. Fungal skin infections can trigger these problems; thyroid or hormonal issues also can affect her coat. Talk with your vet about your concerns, and point out any areas that are gray or thinning.
Other Signs of Aging
Graying fur isn't the only sign that your purring companion is getting a little older. As the hair around her eyes turns gray or white, you'll notice that her eyes are becoming hazy and cloudy. Her vision isn't necessarily getting worse, her eyes just look different to you.
Senior cats have a weaker immune system than younger kittens do. While she is more prone to getting sick in her older years, Sheila also is more likely to have infections on her skin, and she might develop sudden allergies that affect her coat.
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.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.