Feline Aging: Is 12 the new 10?

Author: Lora Schuldt, DVM

October 17, 2013


We used to think a 12-year-old cat had aged about as much as a 72-year-old human. However, it seems that conversion made cats older and that a “tween” is really more like a 60-year-old person. Think about a few of the physical issues we might associate with our own geriatric years: arthritis, high blood pressure, low back pain, and constipation. These are all extremely common in older cats as well, and it’s possible that a kitty could even end up on the same blood pressure medication and stool softener that the owners use! We are here to help recognize and treat these medical problems in our geriatric patients.

Fortunately, our cats are spared many other age-related maladies that we frequently experience. They don’t have to worry about seeing wrinkles and gray hair in the mirror. Because their bodies are designed to handle high cholesterol levels, they’ll never need an expensive Lipitor prescription. And forget about extra excursions to the litter box in the middle of the night due to prostate problems – in fact, we couldn’t locate a neutered male cat’s prostate even if we tried. And women, envy your kitty’s lack of menopause symptoms. Also, unless your cat is Toonces (the Driving Cat, from Saturday Night Live), he will enjoy lifelong automatic renewals of his license – no vision test required!

But seriously, if a cat experiences an age-related health condition, there is a psychological strain in addition to the physical symptom. Cats are very instinctual, independent, and easily stressed by situations that make them feel threatened or vulnerable. The result can be behavior changes such as irritability, loss of interest in their environment, and intolerance of other pets in the household. For such kitties, improving health really is the path to happiness in their older years.