Across the nation, September is “Senior Pet Care Month”. Older cats can be grouped as “mature” (7-10 years), “senior” (11-14 years), and “geriatric” (15+ years). Senior is commonly used as a broad category for all of these age groups. After cats are over four years old, they age approximately four years for every one human year. Because health changes rapidly in older cats, veterinarians recommed that physical exams increase to twice a year for cats 8 years and up.The goal of feline practitioners is to make the cat’s lifespan of a higher quality and to delay the onslaught of disease.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recommends that at a mature age (7-8 years of age) cats begin getting a physical exam every six months, and an Urinalysis, a Complete Blood Count (CBC) with a complete Chemistry Profile yearly. For senior cats (at 11 years of age), the addition of a thyroid hormone level and a blood pressure check are recommended. Even if your cat appears to be healthy, it is important that there is a normal baseline of values for your veterinarian to compare to. As has been discussed in a previous blog (10 Signs of Illness), cats are masters of hiding their illnesses.
These evaluations help diagnose many different chronic diseases related to aging in the cat such as arthritis, kidney disease, thyroid disease or diabetes. If changes indicating early disease are noted, some other more specialized tests may be needed. Depending on the results, there may be monitoring of specific levels and screening for related diseases at a more frequent interval.
Because arthritis or heart disease are very difficult to diagnose in the cat, many veterinarians recommend to have x-rays taken of various joints or the chest/abdomen. With these evaluations; arthritis, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and tumors may be found at earlier stages when they are more easily treated.
As the cat ages from mature to senior, owners and veterinarians need to to begin looking closer at subtle changes in the cat and performing specific tests to promote longevity and increase quality of life for the cat and the family.
Urinalysis = concentration of urine, glucose, protein, some liver values, microscopic check for crystals, white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, tumor cells, and other signs of kidney or bladder disease.
Complete Chemistry Panel = Check of glucose, liver function, kidney function, protein levels, sodium, potassium, chloride, and chemical indicators of tumors or hormonal disease.
Complete Blood Count = check of White Blood Cell and Red Blood Cell Counts looking for anemia, infection, leukemia (like humans), and some other tumors.
Thyroid Hormone level = a check for a non-cancerous tumor of the thyroid gland that produces too much thyroid hormone leading to kidney and heart damage if not controlled.
Dr. Pam Cuevas
La Grange Park Cat Clinic
3075 S. Wolf Rd.