With good care and modern medicine cats can live to a really great age, sometimes over 20 years and in fact I remember operating on a 21 year old cat for a broken leg and it lived to tell the tale.
There are some considerations specific to the older cat such as feeding an appropriate ‘senior diet’.
Older cats have a specific vitamin mineral requirement together with control of their carbohydrate/protein ratio and cat food manufacturers put a huge amount of research into producing these special diets.
To maintain weight as they get older senior diets are highly digestible but more expensive than ordinary commercial food but your older cat will be eating less as it will be less active and require less energy.
Diets for older cats are also designed to reduce the effects of kidney and heart disease.
Kidney disease in the older cat usually manifests itself as increased drinking, weight loss and picking at food and if you notice any of these signs it is advisable to visit your vet for a checkup, preferably with a urine sample.
Another condition seen in older cats is over active thyroid (hyperthyroidism) which shows itself as weight loss even though the animal has a good appetite.
This condition can be diagnosed by the vet sometimes by detecting the enlarged thyroid in the neck region but usually needs confirmation with a blood test.
As part of the care of an older cat it is important to maintain the teeth in good order as dirty teeth with inflamed gums will reduce the willingness or ability to eat.
Bacteria from the inflamed gums can drip into the blood stream and may end up in the heart and kidneys causing further problems.
Cleaning the teeth by the vet can in fact add considerably to your cats longevity.
Old cats do not groom their coats effectively and we need to help to prevent knots which can result in skin problems.
Older cats need regular check ups by the vet which is always performed at the annual booster and also every six months.