Cat Health at Every Stage of Life
What “typical” food does a cat eat? How old is an 18-month-old cat in comparison to an 18-year-old cat? Knowing what is usual for your cat’s life stage will help you anticipate what changes to expect as they age. It will be easier to monitor your pet’s health and keep them happy and healthy for the remainder of their days if you are aware of how their life stage changes.
As one might expect, kittens are as curious as their little bodies can bear! Typically, kittens spend the first year of their lives growing into mature cats. At 12 weeks of age, a kitten begins to lose its baby teeth, and by the time it is 9 months old, it will have lost all 30 of its adult teeth.
While they are still kittens, your cat should have their heart monitored as part of a physical checkup at each visit to the veterinarian. Heart murmurs or abnormal blood flow noises can happen in kittens, however they are less prevalent than in pups. In order to prevent it from getting worse, your veterinarian will need to keep an eye on the murmur. If a cardiac murmur is detected in a cat older than 4 months, a veterinary cardiologist may perform additional research to evaluate whether your cat requires any early interventions or specialized care.
Cats should engage with family members on a daily basis as they explore their surroundings with boundless energy and (sometimes mischievous) zest! To engage in joyful play with your kitten and prevent any confusion on their part, use extension toys. In a domestic setting, you should avoid this confusion and use your hands for soft pets while the toys withstand jumping up and swatting. Although it is quite common for cats to jump up on people and bite their hands and feet in a manner similar to how they would attack a prey item, this behavior is very normal for cats. Assemble elevated resting spots, safe hiding places where your cat may scurry away to feel comfortable, and distinct regions with less foot traffic and noise for their food, water, and litter boxes.
Given their rapid growth in the first year, most kittens should have an insatiable appetite. A sudden drop in appetite or energy levels necessitates a trip to the veterinarian to ensure there are no significant issues. One of the most common reasons of kitten lethargy is probably kittens eating a toy they had been playing with, like string or plastic. If you suspect your cat may have swallowed a toy or another object, always err on the side of caution and take them to the vet to make sure there isn’t a blockage.
Cats mature between the ages of one and ten. While most cats reach physical maturity around age one, some large breeds, like Maine Coons, may not until age two.
Most adult cats suffer from obesity, which is a growing problem brought on by overeating and inactivity. Your veterinarian may advise weighing meals and capping rewards because every calorie counts. Play with your cat frequently, and provide enrichment activities for them to engage in. Contrary to popular perception, cats are superb problem solvers, and puzzle feeders can help them burn a few calories while still maintaining their mental stimulation.
With an average lifespan of 15 years, we frequently see our pets during their adult life stage. Even cats kept indoors require preventative care, which includes yearly trips to the doctor.
Cats reach their senior milestone around age 11 and remain there until age 14. All senior cats should undergo baseline lab testing and twice-yearly veterinary visits to evaluate thyroid levels, blood cell abnormalities, and organ function. This is one of the biggest distinctions in senior cat care. As they age, things can change quickly even if they aren’t getting shots at every visit, so keeping a watch on any little issues could help prevent more major ones from emerging in the future.
It’s necessary to consider additional arthritis and dental health for many elderly people. Arthritis can be recognized by a hesitation to jump up and down from favorite spots or a sudden dislike of being caressed in some areas that were previously unaffected. Senior cats can need to acclimate to softer animals. The once-sleek and nimble cat might move a little more slowly than in previous years, but that is somewhat to be expected.
A change in hunger is also possible, whether it be brought on by gastrointestinal disorders, decreased scent receptors, or dental disease.
Dental problems is very common in older cats. Despite the burden that aging may place on those 30 teeth, they were built to last a lifetime. Cats may need to switch to canned food to improve their comfort while eating, but at your cat’s biannual appointment, your veterinarian can talk about if dentistry can assist.
Cats that get older
Geriatric cats are those who are 15 years of age or older. They worry about the same things that older cats do, but more. The way an aging cat interacts with its environment and communicates with you are less evident changes. Is your cat voicing its opinions more than before? Older cats, who frequently practice thorough grooming, may appear messy for a number of reasons. Cats who have arthritis can be unable to perform their regular grooming maneuvers. Older skin is more fragile, so slicker brushes that were earlier used may now cause discomfort or even injury if you assist with grooming.
Like elderly people, senior cats might have memory and recognition problems that interfere with their daily activities. Cats may not be as adaptable to new living arrangements as they once were. Try to keep the child’s necessities and familiar items, such their bed and toys, in the same places.
Cats often sleep an average of 15 hours per day and awaken around dusk and dawn due to their natural hunting habits. Fortunately, most pet owners set evening feeding, playing, and socializing patterns, making this a perfect opportunity to carry out a daily nose-to-tail check.
Comparing your pet’s tendencies at different life stages may be instructive if you see changes in their activity levels, litter box habits, feeding habits—whether they become more voracious and beg for food or become less voracious—and engagement levels, among other things. Cats are skilled at hiding their pain or suffering, so if you notice that your cat is acting differently than usual, trust your gut and take them in for a checkup.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your family pet, know the pet’s health history, and may make the best recommendations for your pet.
Wondering about Ear Infections in Cats? Check it out on our latest post!