It’s a hard life being a cat!
1. Bad breath
We cannot expect cat mouth to smell minty fresh but if you sniff close to their face and there’s a strong odor, that is not normal. There are many things that can cause bad breath such as kidney disease and gastric ulceration but it is most frequently associated with dental disease. Dental disease is extremely common in senior cats. Unlike humans, cats with dental disease do not get cavities. The build up of plaque causes infection of the gum and the bones supporting the tooth root. This, if left untreated, eventually leads to teeth falling out! Yikes! This is not only painful for your cats but bacteria from the mouth can travel around the blood stream and can cause them to be very sick. Talk to your veterinarian about the option for treatment of dental disease.
2. They don’t want to jump anymore.
When was the last time you saw your cat jump a height? – on to the bed, kitchen counter, table and other various places they probably aren’t allowed on? If this was a long time ago, it may be your kitten’s way of saying “help I’m sick”.
Many diseases can cats to become reserved. When you are sick, the only think you want to do is probably to stay in bed and sleep all day! Anything that causes them to lose coordination, such as poor vision, nervous or musculoskeletal disorder can make them reluctant to jump a height because they may be afraid of falling. Of skeletal problem, arthritis is a very common disease in senior cats that is often overlooked. Arthritis is an inflammation of joint often secondary to age related changes. Because we don’t take cats for a walk every day, it is easier to miss their signs of joint pain. Ask anyone in your life with arthritis. It’s very uncomfortable. There are many options to alleviate the pain and make them feel better.
Talk to your veterinarian and figure out why your cats are acting differently.
3. They are always starving or they won’t eat at all!
Appetite says a lot about kitten’s health. Sudden increase or decrease of appetite may indicate serious disease! Appetite is a non-specific sign that can be affected by many diseases. Anything from gastrointestinal upset to cancer can initially show as change in appetite. When appetite is changed for a prolonged period, we start thinking something is really wrong with them. For example, cats with severe dental disease often have difficulty eating solid food. Hormonal disease such as hyper thyroidism and diabetes mellitus are both very common condition and can cause change in appetite. Diseases common in senior patients are rarely self-limiting so it’s best to talk to your veterinarian as soon as you notice their change in appetite.
4. My cat is just not right
You’re the one who spends the most time with your cat. So, you’re the first one to notice if something is just not right with them. May be she’s extra cuddly, she is not curled up in her usual spot, she’s drinking more water, anything subtle and unusual will most likely catch YOUR eyes.
When my furbaby got very ill, the first sign I saw was that she missed the bed when she jumped up. And she had never ever done that before. I wish I hadn’t ignored the sign.
As you may have guessed, “just not right”is a very non-specific sign that can be caused by ANY disease. Age related dementia, called cognitive dysfunction, causes change in behaviour. Patients with chronic kidney disease are often described to be “not themselves”. Arthritis causes change in behaviour because it’s painful and they may be cranky because of it. Hormonal (endocrine) disease, particularly hyperthyroidism, causes them to be highly strung. See, many things can go wrong with age.
If you notice something different about your cat, it’s always best to talk to your veterinarian. Don’t make a mistake of dismissing the signs and regretting afterwards. I still live with my regret of not listening to my furbaby’s silent call for help.
5. They have new lumps and bumps.
Lumps and bumps are common findings in senior cats. Just like people, lumps can be warts, inflammatory or something a lot more sinister. To determine what kind of lump it is, the best thing is to take a needle sample to see what kind of cells make up the lump. Lumps become particularly concerning with age. If you notice any new lumps that are growing rapidly, changing colour, ulcerating or your furbaby is showing other signs such as weight loss, its best to get them checked out by your vet asap as early detection is paramount!
I hope this article equipped you to detect signs of illness in your senior cat furbabies. And remember that when in doubt, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Many of the diseases we see in senior cats are not self-limiting and needs some intervention for them to feel better. My Vet staff are always here for you and your furbaby if you have any question 🙂
The crazy cat lady x