Senior Cat Diseases

Seven Common Diseases of Senior Cats by Lorie Huston, DVM

Older cats can suffer from a number of different disease.

With advances in veterinary medicine, our cats are now living longer than ever before. As a result, we (veterinarians and cat owners) are also seeing age-related diseases occurring more frequently.

Here are six common diseases frequently encountered in older cats.


Arthritis can be difficult to detect in cats, particularly in older cats that tend to be less active anyway. However, we as veterinarians are beginning to realize that arthritis occurs more frequently than we previously suspected.

Signs of arthritis in cats may be subtle. Your arthritic cat may limp or favor one or more of his legs. More commonly, your cat will simply become less mobile because of pain. He may sleep more frequently than normal and may be reluctant to climb or jump onto perches and other surfaces he once was able to reach easily.

Feline Hyperthyroidism

Feline hyperthyroidism is one of the most common diseases seen in senior cats. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland secretes an abnormally high level of hormones.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats include the classical presentation of a thin cat with a ravenous appetite. However, hyperthyroid cats may also have a depressed appetite instead. In addition, increased thirst and increased urination are commonly seen. Vomiting and diarrhea are also sometimes seen.

Chronic Renal (Kidney) Disease

Chronic renal disease is another frequently seen disease in older cats. Kidney disease may have many different causes in the cat. In some cases, it may simply be the result of aging changes within the kidneys.

For some cats, renal disease may be an ongoing problem requiring fluid administration periodically to keep your cat hydrated and keep his kidneys functioning. Other medications may be necessary as well.


There are many different types of cancer that can affect cats. The symptoms seen will vary depending on the type of cancer and its location within your cat’s body. However, just as in older people, cancer is a common problem in older cats.

Heart Disease

Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) is the most common type of heart disease in the cat and this particular disease can occur at any age. Even young cats can suffer from cardiomyopathy, as can senior cats.

However, it is also possible for an older cat to develop degenerative heart disease as a result of “wear and tear” on the heart with age.

Whether the cause is cardiomyopathy or degenerative valvular disease, the end result of heart disease is often congestive heart failure.


Hypertension (high blood pressure) in cats is rarely a primary disease occurring by itself. However, it is commonly seen as a sequela to other disease, particular heart disease, hyperthyroidism and chronic renal disease. Cats suffering from these diseases should have their blood pressure monitored regularly.

Dental Disease

Dental health is too frequently overlooked in cats. Dental disease is common and can actually start even at an early age. Often, senior cats suffer from severe dental disease.

Dental disease of any type can be painful for your cat, so much so that it may even affect your cat’s ability to eat normally.

There are many diseases which can affect senior cats. These are only a few of the possibilities but they are some of the most commonly diagnosed. In some cases, a cat may suffer from more than one of these diseases at the same time.


This article is through the courtesy of the Pet Health Care Gazette