Senior Feline Care
You know the joys of having a longtime, faithful companion when you have a senior pet. But you also know that keeping your furry friend healthy and comfortable takes a bit more effort. To ensure your senior pet’s well-being, Lakewood Vet encourages you to focus on three areas of senior pet health: bloodwork indicators, healthy weight (Diabetes/nutrition), and joints/pain.
Bloodwork & Diagnostics
At your cat’s wellness visit, we recommend lab work or blood screenings. Just like in humans, the cells and chemicals present in your pet’s blood can give the doctor a wealth of clues about what’s happening in various organs of the body. As your pet ages and becomes a senior pet (past age 7), an expanded blood panel becomes more important to track any changes in your pet’s overall health and detect onset of illness and disease that senior pets are prone to developing. Below is a brief description of the most common types of blood testing and their purpose:
• Complete Blood Count (CBC): The CBC is a routine blood test that acts like a snapshot of the red, white and platelet cells in your pet’s blood and can reveal many conditions such as anemia, dehydration or infection.
• Blood Chemistry Panels: These tests give information on specific organ systems and their function which helps with early detection of disease when it is easier to treat and more likely to respond to treatment.
• Heartworm – A potentially deadly parasitic disease, heartworm is spread by mosquitoes and has been confirmed in all 50 states. A heartworm blood test looks for specific heartworm proteins called antigens, which are released by adult heartworms into the cat’s bloodstream.
• FeLV/FIV – Both feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are capable of causing a cat’s premature death if undetected. An FeLV test looks for the virus present in the blood; an FIV blood test will show if specific antiviral antibodies are circulating in the blood.
• Blood Pressure Testing. Cats with high blood pressure, or hypertension, usually show no outward signs until the hypertension has caused damage to organs like the kidneys or eyes. Screening is done using a cuff that blows up around the leg.
• Intestinal Parasite Exam: This important fecal test will help determine if any parasites are present in your cat’s digestive system. Intestinal parasites can cause illness in cats as well as their human caretakers.
Weight, Diabetes, & Nutrition
Diabetes in pets is more common than you might think it is estimated that approximately 1 in 230 cats in the U.S. will develop the disease. While diabetes can occur at any age, it is of particular concern for senior pets—those over 7. Symptoms of diabetes can include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Poor skin condition
- While there’s no known cure for diabetes, your pet can lead a happy, healthy life with insulin injections, diet modification, and careful blood monitoring. However, this disease remains a serious, life-threatening condition. Lakewood Vet Center prioritizes prevention and collaborates with pet parents to monitor diets and determine the best nutrition and exercise plan to keep senior pets as healthy as possible.
Joint Pain & Arthritis
Senior cats are at a high risk of osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD), which makes their joints stiff and painful to move. While cats are experts at hiding pain, these are some signs that can indicate your cat is suffering:
- Difficulty getting up and down
- Walking stiffly
- Lameness in one or more legs
- Reluctance to go up or down steps
- Reluctance to jump on their regular favorite surfaces and furniture
- Reluctance to play
- Stiff, swollen, or sore joints
- Reluctance to be touched on some parts of the body
- Unexpected aggression toward other cats or humans
- Hiding more than usual
- House soiling
- Poor coat condition
At Lakewood Vet Center, our vets collaborate with pet parents to develop treatment plans including nutrition, physical therapies, and pain management medications, to reduce pain as much as possible for senior pets.