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The Warning Signs of Older Cats

An annual veterinary checkup is a must for every cat in your home. It allows the vet to monitor your cat's health and alerts her to any potential health issues. During the checkup, your cat will get a complete nose to tail examination and receive updates on vaccinations or medications.

The vet will check his vital organs, inspect him for fleas, worms, or other parasites, examine him for lumps or growths, and check his teeth, weight, and temperature. Sometimes the vet will ask for a stool sample or draw blood for tests. This is a good time for you to ask any questions that you have about your cat's diet or to mention specific concerns that you have about his health.

Veterinary care will vary as your cat grows, matures, and ages. Kittens need to see the vet several times during their first year to get vaccinations and to be spayed or neutered. Because the body changes as cats age, older cats (including seniors and geriatrics) should get a complete physical twice a year.

Many cats start experiencing signs of aging at ten years old. As cats advance in age, their bodily functions slow down, and they undergo a general dulling of the senses. They sleep more, play less, and become more sensitive to temperature changes. Older cats also become more vulnerable to injury and disease because their immune systems are slowing down and becoming less efficient.

With aging, the heart does not pump as well. Circulation decreases, and the cat becomes more sensitive to the cold. The lungs lose their efficiency, making him prone to respiratory infections and other ailments. Kidney and liver function also decline, and there is an increased risk of disease, diabetes, urinary tract problems, and incontinence. Some older cats will have problems using litter box.

Older cats also may develop brittle bones, joint or tendon pain or injury, loss of flexibility and mobility, and loss of muscle tone. They may not be able to jump up and down as they once did. Also, the coat thins out and becomes dull or gray. The claws become brittle and may need to be clipped to avoid becoming snagged on objects. Seniors may lose teeth or develop gum disease. Those with sensitive teeth may have a hard time chewing dry food. As a cat ages, his eardrums thicken, resulting in hearing loss, and he can develop cataracts and lose vision clarity.

Your feline companion can live an average of 15 to 19 years, so take good care of him. You are his best friend, and he is relying on you to make him comfortable in his golden years.

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