Updated: May 4, 2023 6:23 PM
A report from the Feline Assessment Office describes the age of a cat in relation to human age with interesting results
I read a report recently that has re-examined how we think about the age of our cats.
It was carried out by the Feline Assessment Office and has now become widely accepted. He sketched out the age of a cat in relation to human age, and the results were quite interesting. (How old is your cat in relation to you? My cat, Foo, would be about 69 years old.)
He also discussed the most common diseases that cats over the age of 11 present in practice.
What occurred to me is how treatable these conditions are and that by treating them, the quality of life for that animal could be increased dramatically.
Unfortunately, many people associate the signs of these diseases with aging and don’t know that they can be helped.
Owners are also understandably reluctant to take their senior cat to the vet due to the stress that a car ride and the waiting room can cause. Talk to your vet about a house call, which is infinitely more suitable for our older cats.
Let me give you an example of a routine senior appointment that we see regularly in practice. He has a 14-year-old cat named Jimmy, so he schedules a home vet visit for a wellness checkup.
He describes it as “sleeping a lot” and “not jumping anymore.” He also notices that he has lost a bit of weight but is eating very well, so he isn’t too worried about it. You mention that he has bad breath and that he’s not doing very well.
Although you feel Jimmy is doing well for his age, there is a lot here that can be improved to make Jimmy’s quality of life that much better.
He will most likely be showing signs of arthritis, which most owners describe as “stiffness.”
Sixty-five percent of cats over the age of 12 are affected by arthritis. This is a very manageable condition and when treated will help with your grooming, mobility, toileting and general pain levels.
She may also have hyperthyroidism, a relatively common condition in older cats that causes a voracious appetite but significant weight loss.
Twelve percent of cats over the age of nine are affected by hyperthyroidism. This is also very manageable and can be diagnosed with a simple blood test.
Your bad breath is almost always related to dental disease, and if you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how painful it can be.
Eighty percent of cats over the age of 11 are affected by dental disease. That’s a staggering number when you think about it, but understandable since most don’t brush their teeth.
Owners tell me all the time “but he’s still eating” when I talk about dental disease and the pain they feel.
You must remember that they have no choice but to eat, so it is up to us to recognize and treat them where we can, to ease that pain.
If you have an older kitty, who may not have been seen by a vet in a while, a checkup can reveal some very treatable conditions that will help her live out her golden years in comfort and health.
• Lucy Richardson graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live in the office with her two children, Ray and Stella, and her dog, two cats, and two guinea pigs. Dr. Lucy is also the FEI National Chief Veterinarian for Bermuda.