Whats the topic for today?
Old cats and the problems they can have.
How old is an old cat? How long do they live for?
The average life expectancy is about 13-15 but we see quite a few that reach 20. The oldest cat I ever met was 24.
Do you know how old the oldest cat in the world is?
The guiness book of records claims it to be an amazing 34 years but there are some unconfirmed claims of cats older than this.
Is it true that old cats go away to die?
Its true that when they feel week and tired they look for somewhere private to lay down and rest. This isn’t necessarily away from home but is often in their favourite resting spot in the garden under the bushes.
If people think their pet cat is coming to the end of its life is it best to just leave it alone to die with dignity or should they take them along to the vet?
I’m glad you mentioned that as its something I hear a lot. There is nothing dignified about a slow and possibly painful death. I really wish people would bring their pet cats for a check up well before they get to the stage of no return.
Are you suggesting people often leave it too late before taking their old cats to see a vet?
Yes I am afraid that’s exactly what I’m saying. We see a lot of cats on their last legs that haven’t seen a vet for years and when we finally get to see them it is often too late to help. It is very sad as we could have helped many of these cats if we had seen them earlier. These cats have been suffering needlessly for months or even years.
What sorts of problems do old cats get that you can help with.
Probably the commonest old cat problem is an overactive thyroid gland. In the early stages this causes weight loss and is easily treated with tablets or surgery. If left untreated though it leads to irreversible heart problems which will send the cat to an early grave. We need to start treating this before the heart problems develop.
So if your cat is loosing weight it should be taken to the vet without delay?
Yes. Kidney disease is another common old cat problem that causes weight loss. We cant cure this but we can increase the quality of life by improving and preserving what kidney function is left. Far too often the first time we see these cats is in end stage kidney failure when it is often too late to help.
Are there other diseases that could be helped if you saw them early enough?
Most diseases are likely to be more easily treatable the earlier we see them. Tumours for instance are more likely to be successfully removed whilst they are still small and before they have had chance to spread to other parts of the body.
So how often should people take their old cats along for a check up at the vet?
As a matter of routine we aim to see all younger patients for a check up at least once a year. But with older patients a lot of things can happen in a year and we recommend check ups at least every 6 months. Sick animals need to be seen on a more regular basis.
Do you think some people put off taking their old cat to the vet because they are worried you might suggest it is time for euthanasia?
Yes I do think some people are worried about that but they need to put themselves in their pets shoes. It is cruel to let a cat continue to suffer needlessly especially if there is a treatment that may help. We only recommend euthanasia if we think it is in the cats best interests. In cases of untreatable illness we consider it a real privilege to be able to offer euthanasia as a way of relieving a cats suffering.
That sounds like a hot topic for discussion and not just with cats. And what is todays question?
According to the guiness book of records how old is the oldest cat in the world (34yrs).