Carly – Senior cat for adoption at Gifford Cat Shelter. Brighton, Massachusetts.
In the past, cats were considered seniors when they reached the age of 8 or 10 years old. Today is not unusual to find cats living into their late teens or early twenties. Those changes have occurred due to advances in veterinary medicine, proper care and nutrition, and also for increasing numbers of cats living indoors.
Generally speaking, older cats can be placed into three categories:
1-Mature or Middle- age : 7 to 14 years
2-Senior : 11 to 14 years
3-Geriatric : 15 years or older.
As a cat ages, is normal to notice some physical and/or behavioral changes such as gaining or loosing weight, having trouble reaching his favorites places, being less active or playful, sleeping more, becoming more talkative and sometimes becoming grumpy.
However, those changes could also be a sign of illness or dental problems and should be addressed by a veterinarian.
I- Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease (FIBD)
Feline inflammatory bowel disease is a group of chronic gastrointestinal disorders caused by an infiltration of inflammatory cells in the gastrointestinal tract, disrupting the intestin’s ability to function properly. Cats of any age can be affected by FIBD, but it occurs more often in middle-aged and older cats. Siamese breeds have been found to be more predisposed to the disease.
The symptom of FIBD can vary depending on area of the digestive tract affected.
The most common symptoms are: chronic vomiting, abdominal pain, rumbling and gurgling sounds in the abdomen, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, gas, blood in the stool, and distressed coat hair.
The cause for FIBD is unknown, however some studies indicate that the cat’s immune system can be involved in the disease’s occurrence.
Many of the common symptoms of FIBD, such as vomiting and diarrhea are also common symptoms of other diseases, so it is necessary that the veterinarian take a detailed history regarding to the duration and frequency of symptoms. Laboratory tests and other exams are necessary to rule out other diseases, but a definitive diagnoses can only by made by evaluating material (intestines, or stomach) collected for biopsy.
The treatment will depend the gastrointestinal area affected, but it is recommended the use of various medicaments and a change to a hypoallergenic diet. Sometimes is also recommended the use of prebiotics and probiotics.
There is no cure for FIBD, but it can be controlled with proper medication and diet.
Cornell University Feline Health Center
American Association of Feline Practitioners