By Dr Tom Matson of Papamoa Village Vets

Companion animal vets commonly see older cats suffering from similar symptoms. These symptoms include weight loss, a ravenous appetite, increase in thirst and urination, frequent vomiting, and weakness in the back end. Owners often think these changes are just due to old age. However, cats showing these symptoms may be suffering from a treatable disease.

One such disease is hyperthyroidism. This is generally caused by a benign growth in the thyroid gland resulting in the excessive production of thyroid hormones. These hormones control metabolism, and excess hormone means a faster metabolism. This can have many negative effects including weight loss despite a big appetite, frequent vomiting, restlessness, increased heart rate, and hypertension. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with daily medication. The disease can also be cured with surgery or radioactive iodine treatment.

Two other feline diseases often seen in older cats are diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Diabetic cats may be very hungry, very thirsty, losing weight, and weak in their back end. Diabetes is treatable with insulin injections and prescription diets, and some cats can even achieve diabetic remission, in which insulin injections are no longer required. Chronic kidney disease can cause very similar symptoms to diabetes but is unfortunately not curable. However, lots can be done to help manage this disease and improve quality of life.

There are many other diseases that can affect older cats such as dental disease, osteoarthritis, heart disease and cancer. We recommend taking your cat to the vet every year for a full health check.  With the help of your vet, many of the diseases affecting older cats can be treated, cured, or even prevented.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 838 7267.