Common Health Problems in Older Cats

By: Talin Seta Shahinian

Due to advances in veterinary science, higher quality food, and attentive care from great cat parents like you, cats are living longer and healthier lives. There are some health conditions that older cats are susceptible to, and catching them early means your kitty has a better chance of survival and quality of life in their golden years. Here are some common conditions to watch out for as they age.


This condition primarily affects cats of all ages over the age of ten. Hyperthyroidism is a condition where an excess of thyroid hormones is present. This leads to overactive metabolism and affects other organs. Signs to watch out for include:

  • Weight loss.
  • Increased appetite or thirst.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Poor coat condition.
  • Behavioral changes, such as hyperactivity, restlessness, or more frequent or louder meowing.

Your vet will do a blood test to check thyroid hormone levels and may administer other tests, including urinalysis, chest X-ray, ECG, and blood pressure level. Hyperthyroidism may be treated with surgery by removing the affected gland, with oral medicine called methimazole, injections of radioactive iodine, or prescription nutrition. With treatment, this condition can be controlled, and cats can go on to live a normal lifespan.


Arthritis is a painful inflammation of the joints and is common in older cats. 90% of cats over age ten experience arthritis in at least one joint. Signs of arthritis to look out for:

  • Behavioral changes. The pain of arthritis may make your cat grumpy, he may not want to interact with people as much, and the discomfort of the disease may lead to aggression.
  • Litter box issues. Not using the litter box because the sides are too high to climb over with arthritic pain.
  • Decreased interest in playing. Your cat may seem lethargic or disinterested.
  • Difficulty grooming. This is especially true in hard-to-reach areas such as the middle of the back and tail.
  • Stiffness. Your cat may experience increased stiffness after resting, which improves with movement.
  • Reduced mobility. Stiffness can lead to your cat not wanting to jump or climb.

Your vet will diagnose arthritis with a physical examination, including palpation, and additional diagnostics may include x-rays or other imaging tests. Most often, your cat will be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs.) Occasionally a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drug may be prescribed instead. These can reduce inflammation and pain, allowing your cat to be a bit more comfortable.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes affects the control of blood sugar levels. Middle-aged and older cats, particularly those overweight, are more prone to this disease. Signs of diabetes to look out for:

  • Increased thirst or appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Increases urination.
  • Weakness and lethargy.
  • Vomiting
  • Being more prone to other infections, such as urinary tract infections.

To diagnose the condition, your vet will measure blood and urine glucose. The main form of treatment is insulin therapy. Insulin is administered by you, at home, by an injection under the skin, once or twice daily, depending on your cat’s specific needs. Your vet may also suggest altering their diet to help control blood sugar levels. Cats with properly treated diabetes can go on to live reasonably normal lives.

If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We’re a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. Scheduling information is available on our website. You can also check out our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!


All cat spay/neuter appointments are made on this website. We post new clinic dates 6 weeks ahead of time. Check back often if you do not see a date that works for you.

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