Many of you know our senior cat, Sylvie. Sylvie loves to play, she is curious about new objects and loves people, kids, dogs and even other cats. She reigns the entire clinic with her iron claw and melts the heart of anyone she meets. This year she turned 14, and a few months ago she stopped doing all these things. Sylvie was losing weight, sleeping more, and not interacting with people and objects like she normally does. The entire clinic and many of our clients were concerned about her well-being.
It is common for cat’s over ten years of age (senior cat) to develop kidney or thyroid problems. Both easily diagnosed with simple blood and urine tests. We promptly pulled blood and determined that she had an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
Weight loss, ferocious appetite, and excessive vocalization are the most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can mask signs of kidney disease, so we had to start treating Sylvie with an oral medication for the first couple of weeks. Luckily, Sylvie did not have any underlying kidney disease. Sylvie is an amazing cat, but she is a horrible patient. She doesn’t like being poked or prodded, and she hates taking pills. Because of this, we decided to try Hill’s prescription diet y/d to control her thyroid problem. Unfortunately, she didn’t care for the diet, so we went back to pills.
A few weeks later and Sylvie is still not acting like her normal self. Meg noticed that her eyes didn’t look quite right. This symptom alerted Dr. Coffin to check Sylvie’s blood pressure. Dr. Coffin diagnosed Sylvie with hypertension or high blood pressure. Dr. Coffin added another oral medication to treat Sylvie’s high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is common in senior cats, especially those with underlying kidney and thyroid problems. The most common symptom of hypertension in cats is sudden blindness, nose bleeds, and heart murmurs. Treatment involves oral medication.
Another week goes by, and Sylvie is doing better but still not quite back to her normal self. Dr. Coffin noticed she was having a hard time getting up the stairs to her food and litter box. Close monitoring revealed that Sylvie also has arthritis.
Approximately 90 percent of senior cats have arthritis. Common signs include difficulty jumping, sleeping more, increased or decreased grooming, painful when brushed or petted. Chronic pain in cats presents a dilemma because there are so few pain medications safe for long-term use in cats. Because of this, we opted to start Sylvie on Dasaquin, a glucosamine supplement, sprinkled on her food. Unfortunately, she stopped eating because she didn’t like the supplement. Dr. Coffin decided to start her on a low daily dose of oral Metacam. We also moved her litter box and feeding bowls downstairs so that she could get to them easier.
After months of observation and trial and error treatment options, I’m happy to say that our senior cat, Sylvie, is back to her normal self. In fact, watch the video below to see her most recent shenanigans. Sylvie’s story is a common tale that we see with senior cats.
Things to learn about your senior cat from Sylvie’s story:
- It is common for senior cats to have multiple diseases at the same time. Monitor your cat closely and speak with your veterinarian about any changes that you see.
- Several treatment options may be available. If one treatment doesn’t work, ask your veterinarian about another option.
Early diagnosis of all these diseases will help your senior cat live a long, happy and pain-free life and in the long run, will save you money. Dr. Coffin recommends twice a year exam for all senior patients. Contact Guthrie Pet Hospital today!