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Questions for senior (15+)cat owners

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Well Ox is approaching his 16 (17?) birthday. For the past yr he has had constipation problems. But in the past couple months (like last night) he had both types (smelly). On of course the kitchen floor. He is a black long haired that the fur on his legs is really turning gray. He I think is in good health, eats well, likes going in garage on sits on window ledge for hours if I let him. Begs for treats (potato chips!) Once in a while (probably 3 times now in the past 3-4 months) he will jump off sofa I we both notice is back legs will wobble.
What food do you feed cats of this age and what physical signs of decline have you seen. I think his eyesight and hearing is good but he has such long hair that this size is misleading, I think if he had short hair I would really notice that he has gotten thinner over the past yr or two.
post #2 of 9
I have several oldsters and if you have not done a senior panel on your fellow, that would be the first thing I'd do - zip in to the vets and have them do one. Specificially, ask them to check thyroid function, as well as kidney function (which should be part of a senior panel).

Constipation can simply be a sign of dehydration...but it can also go along with chronic kidney failure (as can the wobbly back legs)...it just sounds time for a good overal exam.

Food for a senior - something with lower phosphorus, I would *not* drop the protein content unless a problem is found with the kidneys that is more than mild, but I sure would buy lower phos foods (use the link below for a site that gives that info on a lot of dry and canned cat foods), and just as important, try to increase your cats fluid intake....try ice cubes in the water bowl, try homemade, onion free chicken broth over his favorite wet food, get a drinking water fountain (i.e. one is drinkwell), increase the per centage of his diet that is a quality canned food.

katkarma dry foods cat list and katkarma canned foods list

post #3 of 9
I have a 17 year old right now (Shep) which we found as a stray about 12 years ago so we're not real sure about her age. As Pat suggested, a geriatric blood panel is very important at this age. Shep's blood panel was done a few months back and from that perspective, she is doing remarkably well for her age. But, she has been showing signs of a cognitive disorder for about a year now (sort of like Alzheimers for cats) which the vet thought could be due to a brain tumor. Bloodwork was clean so we were a little baffled by it and didn't run any tests as we wouldn't operate on her at this age anyway. Frankly don't know if brain surgery is an option for cats anyway.

In the last few months, she has had a couple of minor strokes which has reduced the use of her back left leg. She still gets around very well so it isn't a big issue. She walks with a slight limp and sometimes when she is laying down, her leg will extend out from her body (as if she can't tuck it in properly).

The thing that I notice the most about Shep is the fact that she is thinner than she used to be, her coat just isn't as shiny as it used to be, she sleeps more, and with the cognitive disorder, she forgets a lot. She'll be at the food bowl eating and will take a little nap between bites sometimes. She has slept hard enough that she once peed in her sleep (probably the stroke effects).

What do we do with Shep? Brush her a lot more than we used to since her coat is not as robust as before. We massage her leg to keep up circulation. We feed her in her own place away from the other cats so that she is undisturbed and can take her naps as necessary. We keep a fresh bowl of water and food by her side at all times. We've given her different types of beds to sleep in to relieve any pressure she may have on her joints and muscles at this age (she likes round beds). And basically give her as much love as we can. We know in our hearts that she doesn't have a lot of time left with us.

Yup, it is very hard to see them get old!
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
I noticed in the past few days-Ox's normal sleeping spot in on one of the kitchen chairs (protected by a folded up sheet and towel. He is sleeping on the family rooms sofa (warmer in family room?) or on an afghan in the living room. It could also be due to Bakker taking the good sleeping spots. He doesn't really like being brushed-I have to buy new ones anyhow after the ringworm episode. Thanks for the help.
post #5 of 9
getting the panel is such a good idea! Rasha (one of our many old cats) had kidney failure, or I suppose something very close to that about 3 years ago. We lucked out and there was a miricle, somehow the dialisis took hold and he's lived an extra 3 years, the vet was counting on less then a week.
Sounds like he's just getting old though. My best advice is to make sure he's gaining some weight, or at least maintaining it and drinking water. Our cats have been on Medi cal's Low protein stuff for the last 3 years because of Rash, but I certainly wouldn't suggest something like that unless they have problems. Perhaps something for seniors, and if they make it something with a hairball release? At a certain age, all of our cats have started taking laxitives pretty regularly which helps with constipation and hairballs alike (with 2 of our cats the constipation was caused by the hairballs).
Other than that, warm and loved is my best thought, which you already do, I can tell. And again, get a vet to look him over. It's important at such an old age.

post #6 of 9
Good to see there are many senior kitties out there. My Tulip is 19 in October (god willing). She has always been tiny but now I do notice the weight loss and her coat is a bit 'starry'. I had a full check on her done about 18 months ago and she was fine - will book again soon for another check up. She is a picky eater sometimes and at other times will 'wolf' stuff down-there is just no knowing with her. She has never really taken to the food they give for elderly cats so I give her what she likes which is Felix canned! She drinks a lot of water but always has done (need to get that checked out), she hurls herself around when she wants to and sleeps in the warm places. She does like the round beds as well. Her back legs do the wobble as well sometimes and she is definately getting forgetful. She will yowl for no reason and has done for a couple of years now. I used to be able to call her and tell her she was okay and to come to where I was but now she is getting a bit hard of hearing so I get up and go to her (she tends to this in the middle of the night!). Tulip loves to be brushed and always has done. She is also very very spiteful to the other cats (I think thats what keeps her going )
Warmth, knowing they are loved and a little extra fuss thats what I recomend.
I'll miss my little Tulip when she's gone.
post #7 of 9
Pat & Alix had the best advice....you need to do a full Senior Checkup. The weight loss might be due in impaired kidney function. But without a workup you will not know what is going on or what is the best food to be giving your senior cat. Beau is almost 15 now, and I hope to have him for a few more years. But all animals start having a few problems when they become elderly. That is why the full senior examination and workup is so important. Good luck!
post #8 of 9
Fred is 17 and FIV+. He still eats well, plays occasionally, and is very much the alpha kitty. His once yellow tabby coat is faded in to a dull yellowish color, and his eyes are a little cloudy. He has stopped using the litter box, and for some reason has started going in the tub, but that just means my tub gets cleaned daily. He has had several seizures, but the vet says that is probably due to a head injury he sustained seven years ago. He has been a little goofy since then. He sleeps most of the time, and snuggles with the other cats. He sleeps next to me at night, often snuggled up to my chest. He still loves to be brushed, loves his treats, and I hold him like a baby when I watch tv. He feels kind of brittle, and sometime I am afraid I might break him. His weight has held at his lifelong adult weight of 8 lbs., but it is distributed differently. He was an indoor/outdoor cat for years, but it was 4 years we lived in a place not safe for him to go out, so he has turned in to an indoor kitty. Last summer he still sunned himself on the porch, but since Georgia got hit by a car, he has been out only about three times, once to visit her grave, which he found on his own.
He will always be my baby, he was my first cat.
post #9 of 9
Our Sphinx will be 16 this year; we've had her for 15 of those years. Her appetite is good and since I switched all our cats over to Nutro, her coat is the nicest it has ever been. We've had geriatric panels done on her for several years now - her results have all been good. I can't get her to play much but she greatly enjoys being brushed.

We got a 5yr cat last September (we also have a 13yo Maine Coon mix) and a couple/three ferals took up residence in our year last summer, so there's plenty of activity going on to keep her mentally stimulated.

The one big change I've noticed is that she seems to be arthritic in her hips and is a bit gimpy going up stairs. She no longer jumps up on anything, but will claw her way up instead; I bought a little wooden 3-step stair for her climb up and down off our bed.

All in all I'd say she's in pretty good shape for a Senior Citizen
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