Senior Cats Are More Prone to Illness

Just like humans, as cats age, they become more prone to major illnesses.  Fortunately, today, while many serious illnesses are not curable, they are MANAGEABLE with proper veterinary care.  Here are some of the leading serious illnesses that can affect your senior cat along with what to watch for for early detection

Illness Occurrence / Description Signs
Anemia Most common in cats with kidney disease. Tiredness, weakness, pale gums.
Arthritis Affects almost all cats, especially those more than 10 years old. (Often subtle) Hesitation to jump up/down, using “steps” to jump, taking longer to lay down/get up, stiff gait.
Bladder Stones Abnormally high or low urine pH can lead to stone formation. Straining to urinate, inability to pass urine, bloody urine (obvious and microscopic), recurrent bladder infections.
Cancer The most common cancer in cats is related to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Many experts attribute this, in part, to chronic inflammation caused by diets high in carbohydrates (all dry foods). Weight loss (can be gradual), vomiting, soft stool, not eating well.
Cystitis Chronic bladder inflammation caused by small breaks in the bladder’s protective layer.  Diagnosed by ruling out infection and stones. Is a chronic problem that “flares up” influenced by stress / anxiety. Bloody urine, straining to urinate, peeing outside the box, pain.
Dental Disease Affects almost all cats. Some get  resorptive lesions which cause  painful holes in teeth. Can lead to other serious health problems. Most cats show no outward signs. Spotted during exam.


Diabetes On increase.  Obesity can predispose a cat to becoming diabetic. Pancreatitis, a common disease in cats, can lead to diabetes as can long-term use of steroids (used in managing certain diseases). Gradual weight loss despite normal eating (or eating more than usual), increase in thirst and urine output.


Hepatic Lipidosis

More common in large/overweight cats who have lost weight too quickly or are not eating well due to other illness. Usually results in jaundice; requires hospitalization. Weight loss, not eating well, lethargy, vomiting.
Heart Disease Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common cardiac disease in cats, and is genetic. Breeds at increased risk are:  Maine Coons, Ragdolls, Persians, Sphynxes, and Bengals.  Also affects young, large male cats and orange-colored cats Is a silent disease that may or may not be associated with a heart murmur.  No clinical signs until the cat is in end-stage heart failure. Diagnosed by an echocardiogram.
Hyperthyroidism Common in cats, especially seniors over age 10.  Results from an overactive thyroid gland. Highly treatable with medication. Weight loss despite good appetite, hyperactivity or vocalization, increased water intake and urine output.
Kidney Disease Common in older cats. Can be quick onset or occur over time.  Caused when kidney function is lost due to ingestion of a toxin, urinary blockage, bladder or kidney infection or loss of kidney cells.    Not eating well, nausea, vomiting, dehydration (despite drinking), excessive urination, lethargy, weight loss.
Pancreatitis Common disease in young and old cats. Chronic inflammation from pancreatitis can lead to intestinal lymphoma. Vomiting, soft stool, not eating, weight loss, painful abdomen, lethargy.