Older Cats Suffer Silently

Observant Owners & Thorough Medical Care Saves Lives

Cats are America’s favorite pet, yet they are seen less often than dogs in veterinary clinics. Why? I thought you’d never ask. It’s because of the widely held belief that cats are lower maintenance pets. They can stay indoors, munch as-needed from a brimming bowl of non-stinky dry food, and then poop in a box. They pretty much take care of themselves-right?

Sadly, this hands-off attitude has led to needless suffering and early death for well-loved kitties. Just last week veterinary internist Dr. Phil Ries gave an excellent presentation to local veterinarians. He taught us some great new ways of diagnosing and treating chronic illnesses in middle aged to older cats. There is no doubt that life could be better and longer for many cherished pets.

Cats who miss their annual exams may go years with painful erosive tooth lesions, making it painful to eat. Other insidious disorders like benign thyroid tumors or kidney failure, a fact of life in all older cats, could be gradually destroying your kitty. Observant owners can make a huge difference. Take a feel along your cat’s backbone once a week. If it’s getting that boney feel, you may have discovered loss of muscle mass.

Nobody likes thinking that their beloved pet’s health may be withering. To avoid this emotional pain cat lovers are known to invent fanciful explanations.  Rather than diabetes or kidney disease causing excessive urination, that flooded litter pan could mean the roof is leaking in that part of the house. Here’s another one: A cat who has happily consumed the same food for years becomes less interested. Is she finally bored with it? Should we try a dozen designer diets for fussy eaters? You can spend a lot coaxing an increasingly nauseated kitty to eat or you could ask your veterinarian to identify and treat the liver, intestinal, or pancreatic disorder that may be responsible.

I really love my cats but they are sneaky little rascals. They make fun of our dog Miss America and, of course, I realize they swap jokes at my expense too. We know they’re devious so we watch them closely. If you let your cat fake good health he may have less time than think.