"We expect a cat to be a senior between 10 and 12 years old, from 15 years they are considered elderly", says Lotta Möller, small animal veterinarian at Agria Djurförsäkring and specialist in dog and cat diseases.
As your cat ages, their daily routines will be affected. For example, they'll want to sleep more and appreciates a quieter environment. Older cats usually eat a little less, while vision and hearing may deteriorate.
"We see that older cats suffer from different diseases than younger cats. The risk of diseases also increases with the age of the cat, and for cat owners it can be good to be alert to any changes and symptoms in order to receive care in good time" says Lotta Möller.
10 most common diseases or injuries among older cats
1. Thyroid disease toxic goiter = hyperthyroidism
Symptoms: increased thirst and hunger and weight loss despite good appetite. You can can also suffer from vomiting, diarrhoea and become anxious.
Treatment: visit a vet who can prescribe medication in tablet form. Other options are for the cat to be treated with radioiodine therapy or surgery.
2. Emaciation or anorexia
Symptoms: loss of weight and appetite. The causes can vary, for example kidney disease, tumour, heart disease or problems with the teeth.
Treatment: depends on the cause. Visit your vet.
3. Kidney disease
Symptoms: your cat becomes extra thirsty and urinates more. They can also suffer from reduced appetite, with vomiting and emaciation as a result.
Treatment: to alleviate the symptoms, your cat can be given medicated food that is gentle on the kidneys. Available to buy from the vet. If necessary, drips are given at the clinic and sometimes also blood pressure-lowering medicine.
4. Vomiting and diarrhoea
Symptoms: your cat shows reduced appetite with vomiting and emaciation as a result. The causes can vary and do not always have to come from disease in the gastrointestinal tract, but can also be symptoms of disease in, for example, the kidneys, liver, pancreas or thyroid gland.
Treatment: if the cause is a gastrointestinal disease, your cat is treated with drips and/or diet. Sometimes in combination with other drugs.
Symptoms: your cat, which is often overweight and male, suffers from increased urination and thirst. In the beginning, the appetite increases, then decreases and the cat gradually loses weight.
Treatment: insulin injections until further notice, a medicated feed and food at regular times.
6. Traumatic injuries
Symptoms: often due to the cat being hit or falling from a great height. Examples of injuries that can occur in the event of a fall from a high height such as a balcony are a jaw fracture, cleft palate, fractured extremities, pelvic fracture, pulmonary haemorrhage or ruptured bladder.
Treatment: depends on the nature and extent of the damage. Visit your vet.
7. Urinary tract disease
Symptoms: upper urinary tract (see kidney disease above). Other common diagnoses in the urinary tract are:
- Bladder inflammation: pressure, blood in urine, pain when urinating - often in connection with stress.
- Bacterial infection of the lower urinary tract: can affect single female cats and cats with reduced kidney function.
- Urinary retention: a life-threatening condition that requires immediate care. The cause can be a stone or gravel in the bladder that blocks the urethra - often more acute symptoms in male cats, although females can also be affected. Urges, the cat cannot urinate at all or only drop by drop. Your cat may go to their litter tray more often, but not be able to urinate. The symptoms can sometimes be misinterpreted as constipation.
Treatment: Bacterial infection: antibiotics after culture of sterile sample. Bladder inflammation: mainly painkillers and reduce stress. Urinary retention: flush out the retention under anaesthesia, possibly surgery. Medical diet.
8. Thirst or increased urination
Symptoms: causes can be kidney disease, diabetes or toxic goiter.
Treatment: depends on the cause.
9. Skin abscess
Symptoms: painful swelling - an infection (abscess) after a cat bite. Sometimes the abscess will have burst before you even discover it. The abscess could secrete a watery substance.
Treatment: drainage of abscess at veterinarian. Wound cleaning.
10. Skin tumour
Symptoms: swelling of the skin which could be covered with hair. Can be both soft and hard. Tumours can be benign or malignant.
Treatment: tumours need to be examined by a vet. Skin tumours in cats can be malignant - often a cell sample is taken initially and sometimes the entire tumour is surgically removed. It is always easier to operate on a small tumour.