Early signs of kidney disease can be quite non-specific and may be put down to ‘old-age’. Initially all that may be evident is mild weight loss, but as the disease progresses other symptoms may begin to show including poor appetite, obvious weight loss, lethargy and dehydration. An increase in drinking and urination may be seen in some cases. Inappropriate urination may also be a sign.
Early detection and treatment can dramatically improve your cat’s quality of life and longevity.
Diagnosis is relatively straight forward and involves a urine test and a blood test.
Treatment includes a prescription food and a dietary supplement, and in some, but not all cases, tablets. Occasionally your cat may need to be hospitalised and placed on intravenous fluids.
Initial signs may be a general ‘slowing down’, reluctance to jump, poor grooming over the hindquarters and/or changes in temperament and interaction due to discomfort. You may also notice long claws as your cat is less able to stretch his or her legs out to keep them worn down. A number of treatments are available. Treatment can slow the progression of the disease and ease the associated pain.
Treatment options include:
- Joint supplements – chondroitin, glucosamine and essential fatty acids (EFAs)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
- Injections – weekly for 4 week course, then every 6 weeks
- Environmental modification – for example making sure they don’t need to jump up high to reach their bed.
- Royal Canin Mobility food – contains green-lipped mussel extract, glucosamine and chondroitin
- Therapeutic laser
- Other pain relief medications. (DO NOT USE HUMAN MEDICATION AS MANY OF THESE DRUGS ARE TOXIC TO CATS! We have medications that are designed for long term use in cats, which are safe and well tolerated)
Dental disease is a very common problem in older cats. Signs can include reluctance to eat, dropping food, salivation, pawing at the mouth and bad breath. Often owners do not recognise the discomfort their pet has been in with a sore mouth until they see the change in their pets after treatment with increased activity and interaction.
Build-up of tartar on the teeth leads to sore gums and infection. A sore, infected mouth can lead to problems eating and infection can spread and cause disease in other organs such as the heart and kidneys. Infection in the mouth means that your cat is swallowing bacteria constantly which can also lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. Older cats need an increased calorific intake and so discomfort while eating will lead to weight loss.
There are many options available to improve the health of your cat’s mouth.
Initial treatment may involve a general anaesthetic to scale and polish teeth. Any diseased teeth may require removal. At Animates we offer a fixed price Dental Scale and Polish.
Following this we can formulate a plan that suits you for on-going dental care. This may include brushing your pet’s teeth, special dental diets and treatments for the drinking water to reduce further problems.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure can be caused by a number of underlying diseases.
Left untreated it can damage the:
It can lead to a rapid deterioration in general health and well-being and loss of vision.
Once diagnosed; regular checks and treatment with daily tablets can vastly improve your cat’s longevity.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive Thyroid)
Hyperthyroidism is a common condition in middle aged to older cats where the thyroid gland becomes overactive. It is usually caused by a benign growth or overgrowth of the thyroid gland that leads to excessive production of the thyroid hormone.
Thyroid hormone is responsible for a number of functions in the body and regulates the basal metabolic rate. Excess hormone leads to weight loss despite an increased appetite, high blood pressure and further problems associated with this. If left untreated structural changes can occur within the heart and heart failure can develop.
There are a number of effective treatment options following diagnosis. Most commonly we treat hyperthyroidism with oral medication which can keep the condition well controlled and improve your cat’s quality of life and longevity. There are other treatment options available that can be discussed with the vet including surgery, radioactive iodine therapy or a prescription diet.
Cognitive dysfunction (‘dementia’)
Metabolic processes in the body are constantly producing harmful by-products called free radicals which in a young animal are neutralised by anti-oxidants. In older animals, free radical production increases but unfortunately the amount of anti-oxidants decrease. This leads to excessive amounts of free radicals which can damage cells within the brain.
Your cat may show signs of being:
- more restless
- pacing behaviour
- decrease in interaction with you
- show signs of inappropriate toileting behaviour
Specialised supplements are available to help reduce free radical damage and improve nerve transmission in the brain. This helps to improve your cat’s energy and feeling of well-being.
You may notice signs of weight loss, despite an initially increased appetite, drinking more and urinating more. Diabetes is simple to diagnose with a blood and urine sample initially.
Treatment usually involves twice daily insulin injections. The needles are tiny and often your pet won’t even feel them. A prescription diet can really help to keep the condition well controlled.
Difficulty defecating and constipation can become a problem in older cats. This may be due to previous pelvic injury or other intestinal-related diseases. Chronic constipation can be difficult to manage but there are formulated diets and medications that may help with this condition.
Occasionally enemas may be necessary, and if the constipation is particularly severe this may be under a general anaesthetic.
Cats are prone to urinary tract problems at all ages. Younger cats can develop urinary crystals which can lead to cystitis or blockages (particularly in males). Stress can also trigger problems such as cystitis.
Older cats are prone to urinary tract infections as urine concentration decreases with reduced kidney function.
Sadly cancer becomes more common as cats age, and like other diseases a cat with early cancer may not show signs of ill health. You may notice a ‘lump’ or the vet may be able to feel one when feeling your cat’s abdomen at a health examination.
It is also possible that abnormalities may be picked up on laboratory screening, suggesting further tests to check for cancer should be considered.
While some types of cancer are obviously very serious others, if found early, are more treatable than you may imagine, for example simply removing it surgically.