Fall 2008 Mews Letter  


 
What happens as my cat ages?

The aging process is accompanied by many physical and behavioral changes:
  • Dental disease is extremely common in older cats and can hinder eating and cause significant pain.
  • Compared to younger cats, the immune system of older cats is less able to fend off foreign invaders. Chronic diseases often associated with aging can impair immune function even further.
  • Older cats groom themselves less effectively than do younger cats, sometimes resulting in hair matting, skin odor, and inflammation.
  • The claws of aging felines are often overgrown, thick, and brittle.
  • In humans, aging changes in the brain contribute to a loss of memory and alterations in personality commonly referred to as senility. Similar symptoms are seen in elderly cats: wandering, excessive meowing, apparent disorientation, and avoidance of social interaction.
  • Aging is also accompanied by many changes in the eyes. A slight haziness of the lens and a lacy appearance to the iris (the colored part of the eye) are both common age-related changes, but neither seems to decrease a cat's vision to any appreciable extent. However, several diseases-especially those associated with high blood pressure-can seriously and irreversibly impair a cat's ability to see.
  • For various reasons, hearing loss is common in cats of advanced age.
  • Feline kidneys undergo a number of age-related changes that may ultimately lead to impaired function; kidney failure is a common disease in older cats, and its symptoms are extremely varied.
  • Degenerative joint disease, or arthritis, is common in older cats. Although most arthritic cats don't become overtly lame, they may have difficulty gaining access to litter boxes and food and water dishes, particularly if they have to jump or climb stairs to get to them.
***For all of these reasons, Dr. Flatley recommends an annual exam every 6 months with blood work yearly. When problems are caught early, your cat can live a longer, better quality of life.


 
Myth: Rabies is not a disease of cats.
Fact: Actually, most warm-blooded mammals, including cats, bats, skunks and ferrets, can carry rabies. Like dogs, cats should be vaccinated


How can I help keep my senior cat healthy?
Close observation is one of the most important tools you have to help keep your senior cat healthy. Perform a mini-physical examination on a weekly basis.
Try making the examination an extension of the way you normally interact with your cat. For example, while you are rubbing your cat's head gently raise the upper lips so you can examine the teeth and gums. In the same way, you can lift the ear flaps and examine the ear canals. While you are stroking your cat's fur, you can check for abnormal lumps or bumps, and evaluate the health of the skin and coat. In this way, you can feel confident that you are able to detect problems in a timely manner.

 
So how old is my cat, really?
Cats are individuals and like people they experience advancing years in their own unique ways. Many cats begin to encounter age-related physical changes between seven and ten years of age, and most do so by the time they are 12. The commonly held belief that every "cat year" is worth seven "human years" is not entirely accurate. In reality, a one-year-old cat is physiologically similar to a 16-year-old human, and a two-year-old cat is like a person of 21. For every year thereafter, each cat year is worth about four human years. Using this formula, a ten-year-old cat is similar in age to a 53-year-old person, a 12-year-old cat to a 61-year-old person, and a 15-year-old cat to a person of 73.


Cardiologist at the FVCC!
Dr. Hattie Bortnowski is a Clinical Instructor of Small Animal Internal Medicine in the Department of Medical Sciences at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. She also operates a private mobile cardiology consulting practice that she brings into private clinics to better help patients with cardiac issues.
Starting July, 2008, the Fox Valley Cat Clinic is thrilled to offer Cardiology Consultation and Echocardiogram here in the comfort of our practice. Please call for the next available date.

Dr. Flatley will be attending
National Feline Conference
in Atlanta in September
Topics to be discussed include:
New treatments for feline urinary disease
New Diagnostic testing for the urinary tract.
Current Renal disease management
New Dietary treatment for Renal disease
She will also be touring the Atlanta Zoo. Getting a behind the scene tour of the “Big Cats” Area.
 
Fun Facts!
Normal body temperature for a cat is 102 degrees F.
A cat’s normal pulse is 140-240 beats per minute, with an average of 195.
Cat’s urine glows under a black light.
Cats lose almost as much fluid in the saliva while grooming themselves as they do through urination.
Almost 10% of a cat's bones are in its tail, and the tail is used to maintain balance.