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The Scratching Post: Senior at 7

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Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

How old is your kitty? If she is 7 or older, she’s actually considered to be a senior citizen of the cat world!

This might be difficult to comprehend, because 7-year-old humans are still learning how to spell and ride bikes. Cats travel through time a bit differently though.

As the average lifespan of a cat is about 15 years, they obviously age quite a bit faster than us. One year for us is like several years for a cat. During the first several years of life, the majority of kitties will be fairly healthy. During those years we recommend all cats receive an Annual Wellness Exam from their veterinarian.

As cats age, older kitty problems including kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and arthritis can crop up. Part of the reason kitties are considered seniors at 7 years of age is because that tends to be the youngest age that we start noticing some of these older kitty concerns. That’s why we recommend all senior kitties receive a Senior Wellness Examination from their veterinarian every six months.

Since cats age much faster than we do, quite a lot can change in just a few short months. The best way to prevent problems is to catch them before they have a chance to get started.

We also recommend annual bloodwork for all healthy senior kitties. Even if your kitty seems fine on the outside, regular bloodwork can catch a potential problem before it gets out of hand. If cat’s had résumés, the one thing they would all include is, “excellent at hiding signs of sickness from my owner.”

As our kitties can’t tell us if their kidneys aren’t working as well or if their thyroid is working too hard, regular bloodwork checks are an excellent tool for diagnosing older kitty problems. Small changes in the results can indicate an issue that we can treat early on, before it gets out of control. And if the results are normal — that’s wonderful!  Now we have a baseline with which to compare next year’s results.

If your senior kitty is taking chronic medications or has a chronic illness, we recommend checking bloodwork every six months at the time of the Senior Wellness Exam. The results can tell us if chronic medications are working properly and give us insight into any changes that may have occurred.

Also, the liver and kidneys are the organs that metabolize medications, and chronic medications may sometimes take a toll on them. Regular bloodwork can give you peace of mind that everything is on track, or indicate that a medication change might be necessary.

If you have any questions about how to help keep your senior kitty’s health on track, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. 

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