How to give senior cats a health check
The time may be approaching for your cat to be getting their feline equivalent of a Senior's Bus Pass. If they are getting on in years, it may be time for your vet to give them a senior cat check: an all-over MOT to find out how their health is, and if there are any early warning signs of potential problems to come.
We're here to help you understand what to expect at that appointment.
Once cats reach around 10 years old, they may start to show signs of ageing and are more likely to develop age related illnesses. Because of this it is important for them to be checked over by your vet regularly, and we would recommend twice a year, or more if indicated by your vet.
Many vet practices can offer senior cat checks to monitor age progression and for potential markers of disease. The vet will give your cat a thorough check over to examine for any external conditions, but they can also perform blood tests.
These tests commonly include a complete blood count as well as a biochemistry profile. They provide a huge amount of information as they can screen for kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and more.
As well as a blood test your vet may get a urinary sample, through at home collection with special cat litter or through a cystocentesis. A cystocentesis is a quick and painless procedure which can often be done during the consultation. The vet will safely direct a small needle directly into your cat’s bladder to obtain the urine sample. The benefits of this, versus getting a sample at home, is that a cystocentesis is sterile and will provide much more accurate results.
A blood pressure check should also be carried out as many diseases may result in hypertension (high blood pressure) as hypertension can also cause organ damage. This is a simple and painless procedure that is very similar to when a person gets their blood pressure taken. If you have a cat that gets particularly stressed, your vet may do this first or ask you to come back another day.
As your cat’s stress levels increase during a stressful situation, their blood pressure will also increase. This may provide a “falsely” high reading.
If your vet is suspicious of this, they may suggest your cat spend the day, this will let them settle down for an hour or so before taking the first reading. Your vet can then take multiple readings throughout the day, proving an average result which is much more reliable.
Based on the first check, your vet may suggest coming back more frequently or may require a few more tests. The major benefit of a geriatric cat check is the potential to catch disease early, allowing you to intervene much sooner and potentially adding years to your cat’s life.
If you have any questions about your senior cat, remember we're here to help! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you.