My brother and sister-in-law are moving to San Francisco and their old Burmese cat CJ has come to Airlie to stay. Like any older animal he has his fair share of health issues brought on by wear and tear or genetic factors inherited from his parents. He has, in no official order, megacolon (an enlarged flaccid colon which makes passing faeces difficult), elbow and spinal arthritis, chronic renal disease and is also showing many of the expected age related cognitive (memory, learning, perception and awareness) changes which include mild disorientation, changes in sleep/wake cycle, occasional house soiling and decreased interactivity.
My Old Cat Recommendations
Owners of older well vaccinated cats can probably decrease the F3 vaccination at 10 years of age from annually to every 2-3 years (note if you board them your cattery may demand annuals). Instead run annual blood and urine tests and check their blood pressure. Early detection of age related medical problems improves survival times and outcomes. Monitor for changes in weight, water or food consumption as these may be warning signs of serious underlying disease.
A warm or heated bed is essential as is easy level access to the Holy “Triangle” of food, water and toilet. We will also use a combination of pain relief and joint assistance strategies to help CJ over winter.
Cats run fairly dry anyway but if your kidney function is failing, dehydration can be life threatening. Cats love to drink from battery operated water fountains, glasses or slow dripping taps.
Treat with Diet
CJ is on a renal diet which has lower protein and phosphorous but slightly higher potassium which the data tells us will double his expected life span. You can buy “senior” diets in supermarkets now and we have “weight loss”, “joint” and “brain” prescription diets as well.
Change is Hard
Older animals don’t have great coping mechanisms so cushion change as much as possible. We will use Feliway pheromone therapy and room confinement to protect CJ from “housefuls of screaming teenage girls on sleepovers or sugar addled tweeny birthday parties”.