How Aging Affects Your Cat

How Aging Affects Your Cat

Eventually, all pets show signs of aging, which can be difficult for pet owners who aren’t sure how to react if they notice symptoms. Often in dogs, the signs of aging are noticeable and pronounced. With cats, however, while the effects are there, you may not notice them.

For this reason, it’s crucial to be aware of the most underdiagnosed conditions in aging cats. Let’s get started.

Commonly Underdiagnosed Conditions in Aging Felines


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a complex condition involving inflammation and degeneration of one or more joints. The word osteoarthritis is derived from several words in Greek: osteo meaning “bone,” arthro meaning “joint,” and itis meaning “inflammation.”  Cats with OA experience pain and inflammation in various joints that interfere with the activities of daily living.

Like humans, arthritis is a common ailment of aging cats. Symptoms include slower movements, limited mobility, stiffness and swelling, and lethargy.

“Arthritis is considered the most underdiagnosed condition in cats.” – Danel Grimmett, DVM

Cat and Owner


Also called thyrotoxicosis, hyperthyroidism is caused by an increase in production of thyroid hormones from an enlarged thyroid gland in a cat’s neck. This is the most common endocrine disease in older cats. Signs include weight loss and increased appetite. Thyroid hormones affect nearly all of the organs in the body; therefore, thyroid disease often causes secondary problems.

Renal Disease (Kidney Disease)

The kidneys have many functions. They principally act to remove waste products from the blood stream, regulate the levels of certain essential minerals such potassium and sodium, conserve water, and produce urine.

Kidney function can wane as your cat gets older. Cats will often drink more to compensate for this increased rate of body water loss and will urinate more frequently.


Hypertension in cats describes high blood pressure that is present throughout the entire body. A cat’s blood pressure is measured in the same way as a human’s, with the systolic number over the diastolic number. This consequence of systemic hypertension is called target organ injury, and the organs most at risk for damage in cats with high blood pressure are the eyes, brain, kidney and heart.  

This is another ailment that is also present in humans as they age. Hypertension may be caused by or related to kidney disease or diabetes. Symptoms include fixed or dilated pupils, blood in the eye, and bumping into objects because of a loss of eyesight.

Cat With Owner

Other Ailments

Other aging feline ailments to watch out for include:

  • Diabetes Mellitus—a disease of the pancreas, a small organ located near the stomach.
  • Osteoarthritis—a degenerative condition of the joints in which the normal cartilage cushion in the joints breaks down.
  • HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy)—a condition that causes the muscular walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, decreasing the heart’s efficiency.
  • Intestinal Issues
  • Cancer

Caring for an Aging Cat

As your cat ages, you may notice that your cat isn’t as active as they once were. They may sleep more often or sometimes avoid human interaction. Occasionally, they may cry in the night and sleep less in general.

While these symptoms are generally normal signs of aging, it’s still important to look for signs of the diseases listed above. And if you have concerns about a cat who’s aging, make an appointment at Sunset Veterinary Clinic right away. Our vets can assess and diagnose your cat to avoid disease and illness complications and make sure they’re comfortable, happy, and healthy at all times.

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2017 N Kelly Avenue Edmond, OK 73003
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Saturday 8:00 AM to 12 PM