Cats are notoriously independent and aloof creatures, and it is always difficult to know what they are thinking. They are also very good at hiding when they are ill, keeping their symptoms under wraps until it is simply impossible to disguise them any longer. Unfortunately, since cats can be just as affected by diseases and sickness as we can, this can make identifying that they are ill, diagnosing them and treating them all that much harder.
Unsurprisingly, the health of your cat will naturally start to deteriorate as she gets older. Age-related changes such as vision and hearing loss, reluctance to do as much physical exercise and even greying whiskers are all natural and unavoidable. However, since your cat’s body ages must faster than your own, other, preventable health problems may appear suddenly without warning. Thyroid problems, high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes are all more common in senior cats. Learning to spot the signs that might could indicate that your cat is sick can make all the difference when it comes to managing or treating whatever health problem is affecting her.
Here are 5 ways to tell if your senior cat is ill.
1. Changes in her appearance
Often, the easiest way to tell if your older cat is suffering from ill health that isn’t directly related to her age is by her physical appearance. These may not be obvious at first, but eventually you may notice changes such as:
Skin problems such as rashes, swelling, sores and dry skin.
A coat that becomes dry, lacklustre and may have bald patches.
Gums that are pale or discolored.
Ears that smell bad, look swollen or red, or that are oozing liquid or pus.
Eyes that seem sore, watery or clouded.
Unusual lumps or bumps on her body.
If you notice any distinct changes in the appearance of your cat, you should arrange for a check-up with your veterinarian.
2. Changes in her behavior
Not all changes that signify illness are visible. In fact, many of them are cognitive and begin with subtle and then obvious changes in your pet’s behavior. This tends to reflect how they are feeling – for example, anxious, scared or in pain. Some signs that you might notice could include:
Confusion or disorientated behavior
Acting as though frightened or scared
Not wanting to be touched
Not wanting to be left alone
If your cat’s behavior suddenly changes, there could be a medical reason behind it, so it is advisable to seek the advice of your vet.
3. Potty training problems
Your senior cat has probably been successfully potty trained for a number of years and uses the litter box or goes outside when she needs some bathroom time. However, while it is not unusual for animals, including cats, to lose some of these skills as they get older, recurrently ‘going’ where she shouldn’t could mean that something is amiss with her health.
A poorly pet may also experience other potty-related problems including:
Urinating or defecating much more than normal
Straining to ‘go’
Urinary or bowel incontinence
Blood in her urine or feces
You should know your senior cat’s usual toilet routine, so it should be fairly simple to spot if there are any worrying changes. If something is different and you just aren’t sure whether or not it could be triggered by a health problem, speak to your vet to rule out an underlying health problem.
4. She starts eating less
A lot of cats naturally begin to eat less as they enter their older years, reflecting the more sedentary lifestyle that many of them begin to adopt. Nevertheless, you should still make sure that you offer appropriate-size portions of a good, high-quality cat food aimed at senior felines. However, the appetite is often one of the first things to change when we as humans become unwell, and cats are no different. If your kitty’s appetite changes quite suddenly, or she starts struggling to eat (such as dropping food), then it is time to get the opinion of your vet. Dropping food is often indicative of dental problems, but there could also be other illnesses causing a disruption in her usual appetite.
5. Your cat just seems out of sorts
Do you ever just get a feeling that something isn’t right with your pet? You know and understand your cat better than anyone and so you should never discount this gut instinct. If you think that something is ‘off’, even if there are no discernible symptoms, it never hurts to arrange for your older pet to attend a check-up with a professional.
You undoubtedly want your older cat to live out the remainder of her life as healthily and happily as possible. If you suspect that your kitty may be unwell, do not be afraid to schedule a check-up with a veterinarian. We would be delighted to see her here at our offices in Nashville, TN. Please telephone our team to make her appointment.