Senior/Geriatric Cats – Ten Most Common Diseases

Ten Most Common Disorders of Geriatric Cats

Someone once said that cats don’t age; they grow more refined. Either way, as time progresses certain illnesses can develop. By being aware of some concerns regarding older cats, you can be a more educated and prepared owner for your aging companion. It’s important that your elderly cat receive routine veterinary care and exams every six months to keep him healthy. Here are some of the most commonly diagnosed illness known to afflict older cats:

Nutritional Concerns
Obesity is a very common and serious concern in the older cat. It directly correlates to a decreased longevity, and may contribute to other problems. Overweight cats are more likely to become diabetic, suffer from liver disease or feline lower urinary tract disease. Proper nutritional management is an important part of the care for your senior cat, especially since it is something you can control. We can help you.

Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is a very common finding in the older cat. With early detection, special diet and treatment, many cats do well. Kidney disease is one of the primary reasons veterinarians recommend screening blood tests in older cats.

Dental Disease
Dental Disease and Gingivitis are common findings in the elderly cat. Untreated dental disease leads to tooth loss, and may serve as a reservoir of infection for the rest of the body, posing a risk to other body systems. Digital Dental Radiography has greatly improved our ability to determine if a tooth has periodontal disease below the gumline so we know if a tooth really needs to be extracted.

Hyperthyroidism is another common disease in older cats. The thyroid gland becomes overactive, often due to a tumor, and your cat will rapidly lose weight and muscle mass, inspire of having a ravenous appetite. Eventually they become quite ill. There are several treatment options available that can help your cat regain his health and live a longer life.

Most diabetic cats cannot be maintained on diet changes alone. Daily insulin injections are typically necessary. We have an entire educational and instructional program to teach you how to care for your cat.

Cats with hypertention (high blood pressure) can develop serious signs of illness such as sudden blindness or heart disease. Treatment is available and can help improve your cat’s health.

Heart Disease
The most common heart disease in the senior cat is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickening and weakening of the heart muscle). This is often associated with hyperthyroidism and hypertension. Early detection of heart disease, treating other underlying disorders, and proper therapy may slow the progression of the heart disease.

Inflammatory bowel disease is associated with weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes IBD is associated with liver inflammation or inflammation of the pancreas. Treatment is available and most cats can do well on proper diet and medication.

Skin and Oral Tumors
Lumps and bumps are common findings on the elderly cat. On the basis of size, location and aspiration results, your veterinarian may recommend removal.

Cancer is a significant problem facing the senior cat. Lymphosarcoma is the most common type of cancer in the cat. NOT ALL CANCER NEEDS TO BE FATAL. Surgery, chemotherapy, even radiation is available that can significantly extend your cat’s quality time, typically without the side effects seen in people. The prognosis depends on the type and location of the cancer.

As cats age, their organs also age and do not function as well as they once did. Various liver diseases are common in aging cats, including fatty liver syndrome and cirrhosis. Another concern with elderly cats is the potential to develop anemia. Whether associated with kidney disease, cancer, chronic disease or primary bone marrow disorders, anemia can cause your cat to be profoundly weak and, without treatment, may even become so severe that emergency medical help is needed. Senior and geriatric pets in our practice often benefit from early detection of these problems through an examination every six months. We recommend senior blood panels, urinalysis, blood pressure, and other select testing so that we may be armed and ready should their results indicate you and our Veterinarians need to formulate a treatment plan together.


Many kennels and doggie day cares will be requiring Canine Flu vaccines by this summer. The two strains of Canine Flu in the US are novel viruses that ALL DOGS WHO CONTACT IT WILL CONTRACT.

Social dogs who frequently go to day care, dog parks, or kennels should be immunized twice the first year, then annually. Many of our local doggie daycares and kennels have imposed a time deadline by which your dog must be immunized. To assist our clients’ compliance, if your pet has had a wellness exam within the past six months and is not obviously ill, a technician visit can be scheduled for the initial immunization and boost 2-4 weeks later.

Call our receptionists to set up a flu vaccine appointment.

Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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