These days, the average household cat can live upwards of 17 years. That’s close to 100 in human years! If you have a feline nearing its seniority, you may notice some changes. What does thinning fur mean? Why is he sleeping more? Here’s how to know if your cat is aging well…
Similar to humans and other animals, there is a laundry list of changes that occur as cats grow older, and many of them aren’t necessarily emblematic of a larger problem. For example, as Shadow reaches his wise years, you may notice his eyes become milky or cloudy in appearance. While it may be startling, both cats and dogs experience this condition in old age (coined lenticular sclerosis) and it doesn’t always affect their vision or cause pain. If the change seems drastic or your cat is acting disoriented, a quick trip to the vet should ease your worry.
Other changes include small weight fluctuations, decreased skin elasticity, reduced self-cleaning, reduced activity, and off-colored teeth. These are all symptoms of aging that are quite common and aren’t necessarily marked as red flags. That said, we recommend keeping a vigilant eye on your cat’s aging process, and even using a notebook to jot down changes you notice or any concern you’d like to address during your next vet visit.
In a recent study on senior cats (age 10 and above), an older feline is considered healthy if they aren’t exhibiting any of the following five behavioral and cognitive changes:
- Apparent disorientation of surrounding area
- Change in how the cat interacts with others
- Irregular sleeping – a change in their sleep cycle
- Failure to use the litter box/house soiling
- Anxiety or sudden change in behavior
Remember: cats are sneakily good at hiding discomfort or pain, so it’s important to monitor their health and behavior. As your furry friend reaches old age, we recommend more frequent mini-physicals and check-ups at the vet – at least two a year so your vet can keep a watchful eye on your cat’s kidneys and thyroid, among other things.
A good rule of thumb? If your cat still manages to play and jump, shows interest in mealtime and maintains a health weight, you have a gracefully aging furry friend on your hands!