How to spot a disease early in an older cat

How to spot a disease early in an older cat

Health & Safety

Studies have shown that cats are now living for that much longer than they ever did before which is great news for their owners. It is estimated that the average lifespan of a cat now stands at 15 years whereas in previous years it was only around 11 to 12 years. The problem is that like many other animals, cats are really good at hiding when they are ill because if they show signs of any sort of weakness, it makes them more vulnerable to predators and this still applies to our domestic cats because it is something that’s deeply embedded in their psyche.

Cats are Good at Hiding the Fact they are Sick

Cats usually only show signs of being sick when their condition has become severe which can make it that much harder to treat them successfully. The earlier most conditions can be diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis tends to be especially in older cats.

The Most Common Disease in Older Cats

One of the most common diseases seen in older cats affects their kidney function and again cats are good at disguising they may be suffering from some form of kidney disease. Sadly, research has shown that around 50% of older cats develop a chronic kidney disorder which most of the time goes unnoticed. When their kidney function is negatively impacted in any way it means their blood is not cleaned properly because kidneys filter out all the impurities which are then passed out of their systems in their urine. The trouble is that any obvious symptoms of there being something wrong only show up when the disease is quite far down the line. The result is the damage done to a cat's organs is permanent and not much can be done.

The Different Types of Kidney Disease

There are two types of kidney disease seen in cats which are as follows:

  • Acute kidney disease where symptoms come on quite suddenly
  • Chronic kidney disease which develops progressively over time

In both cases, the symptoms are similar with the main difference being that when a cat develop acute kidney disease the signs of there being something wrong come on very quickly.

What causes kidney disease in cats?

There are various reasons why older cats tend to develop kidney disease whether it's acute or chronic. Kittens and younger cats may suffer from the condition because they've ingested something that's toxic. But all too often a cat will inherit a condition that affects their organs or they may have developed a nasty infection that negatively impacts their kidney function. It could also be because they are suffering from cancer.

What happens when a cat suffers kidney failure?

Should a cat suffer kidney failure providing the vet can find out the root cause of their condition and then establish how much damage has been done to the organs, they would be able to offer a treatment plan and a prognosis. With this said, when an owner notices that a cat is unwell and gets them to the vet as soon as possible, the better their pets chances are of being successfully treated.

Regular health checks in older cats are essential

Taking older cats for regular health checks is one of the ways that owners can keep an eye on their overall health and this includes whether their kidneys are functioning as they should or whether the organs are beginning to fail. A vet would simply carry out a complete blood test on an older cat together with a urinalysis which would show up just how well their kidneys are working or not as the case may be.

What about treatment for older cats with kidney disease?

Providing the vet can establish the underlying cause of a cat's condition, they would be able to offer a treatment and a prognosis. The most important thing is to keep a cat well hydrated and as such the vet may well recommend feeding them a specific diet.



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