Older Cat Health Problems

Older cat health problems are frequent and you need to pay special attention to notice any abnormalities. You can also prevent some of these diseases by offering your pet a healthy diet and a daily exercise program. Health issues in cats are often accompanied by behavioral changes.


Arthritis is a joint disease and it's difficult to prevent. Arthritis affects most elderly cats. The joints are swollen and movement is painful.

You will notice that your cat will be limping, moving more slowly than usual, and avoids the following activities:

  • Walking up the stairs
  • Jumping
  • Running

Unfortunately, arthritis cannot be treated, but pain medication is available.

You can delay the occurrence of arthritis by keeping your pet at a normal weight. Obese cats are more likely to develop arthritis earlier in life.

Heart Problems

Elderly cats are prone to heart problems. The heart chamber walls can weaken over time, and overweight cats are more exposed to developing a heart condition. Due to heart problems, your cat will not be able to perform challenging physical tasks, will have difficulty in breathing and may lose weight.

In some cases, paralysis of the rear legs may occur, and the condition is related to the heart disease.

Dental Disease

Cats with a poor dental hygiene can develop dental and gum disease. Dental disease starts with the deposit of plaque that turns into calculus if not removed. Calculus or tartar can cause gum disease and tooth decay. A cat with dental disease will have bad breath, will eat less and will drool excessively.

Prevent dental issues with a daily brushing, chew treats and chew toys.


Elderly cats may develop cancer. Cancer can be located anywhere in the cat’s body. Symptoms include:

  • Lumps that will grow in time
  • Sores that take long to heal
  • Bleeding from any orifice
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Foul odor of cat’s skin or urine
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating

Inappropriate Elimination

Older cats can develop kidney, bladder or prostate problems, and will urinate in the house. Inappropriate elimination can also be caused by:

  • Enterocolitis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Thyroid problems
  • Stress
  • Vision problems

Diabetes Mellitus

Senior cats are more often affected by diabetes. Obese cats are more exposed to the disease. The cat will display symptoms such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss
  • Overall weakness
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

The condition is manageable with insulin shots, but these need to be administrated daily.

Other frequent aging problems in felines include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney disease or failure
  • Liver disease or failure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Obesity due to lack of activity and decreased metabolism
  • Hepatic lipidosis
  • Anemia
  • Bladder stones

Some common behavioral changes include increased stress or fear. Your cat might change his sleeping habits or suffer from insomnia. This can be caused by pain or by more frequent urination.

Increase your routine visits to the vet to make sure you detect any possible problem in senior cats. Groom your pet at least 2 times per week to detect any lumps, excessive hair loss or any unusual symptoms.