“Cats are the great pretenders.” So goes one of the common tropes of feline ownership, and in many cases it’s true. Cats are subtle creatures, not ones for making a big scene whenever they feel under the weather. But subtle or not, cats are susceptible to just as many symptoms of aging as the rest of us, particularly as they approach their senior years. The good news is astute pet parents looking for small changes can spot many signs of aging as long as they know what to look for.
Vision Problems in Cats
Eye problems in aging cats can present as a primary condition or secondary to a larger health issues. Some of the most common primary eye conditions in cats are trauma, cancers, and glaucoma (increased intraocular pressure).
The eyes are the window to the soul, but they are also the window to the cardiovascular system. Ocular disease may present secondary to another primary condition such as elevated blood pressure. Hypertension is often seen in cats suffering from hyperthyroidism and/or kidney disease. This may present as engorged retinal blood vessels noted during a physical exam, or in severe cases a detached retina, observed by owners as sudden blindness or decrease in vision.
Any of the following signs warrant a trip to the vet for a close examination:
- Pawing at the eye or excessive blinking
- Engorged (swollen) blood vessels in the sclera, or whites of the eyes
- Pupils that remain dilated even in high light, or are two different sizes
- Bumping into objects or other signs of decreased vision
- Cloudiness or visible debris in the front of the eye
Kidney Disease in Cats
Kidney disease is one of the leading causes of illness in senior cats. You may initially notice an increase in drinking and urination as the kidneys lose their ability to concentrate urine. As the disease progresses, cats lose weight and their appetite as toxins accumulate in the blood. Although kidney (renal) failure is irreversible, early detection and specially designed kidney foods can slow progression of the disease.
Conversely, a sudden lack of urination can also be a sign of serious kidney disease or urethral obstruction. When a cat cannot urinate, it’s considered an emergency situation which requires immediate veterinary attention.
For the complete article on 5 Signs Your Cat is Getting Older, visit petMD.