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As much as we love to play or laze around with our cats, they do not stay young forever. You may not like to admit it, but cats, like everything else, are not immune to aging. Generally, they have a life span of up to 16 – 18 years, and as they grow older bodily and mental changes accompany. These can change their functioning negatively, so it is always good to know what effects aging has on your feline friend.
It is true that some cats age gracefully, with little to no problems, but this may not always be the case. The aging experience may be different from one cat to another, but below are the most common and general effects of aging in cats.
Impairment of kidney functions
With old age, blood supply to the kidneys lessens leading to a decrease in the number of filtering cells. The kidneys, as a result, are not able to concentrate urine. This means that aging cats have to drink more water and pass out more dilute and watered down urine. Make sure that these cats always have access to fresh clean water.
In some aging cats, the liver accumulates a lot of fat, leading to a bigger liver size and a higher level of liver enzymes in the bloodstream. This may lead to a number of health problems.
Weaker bones and muscles
Inter-vertebral disc diseases and arthritis are common among older cats. They are not strong and swift as they once were. They may get hurt or be bruised easily and get tired in no time. Many cats are susceptible to muscle wasting.
Eyesight and hearing deterioration
With old age, most cats have weaker senses. Their eyesight may be impaired, as in the case of cataract, which is common among older cats. Sense of hearing also diminishes greatly. This may be due to standalone changes in the ear or perhaps related to poor eyesight.
Heart diseases and breathing problems
aging cats commonly suffer from heart diseases and breathing problems related to poor lung functioning. The heart walls often thicken, leading to insufficiency and poor functioning in a condition called cardiomyopathy. The walls of small airways in the lungs also thicken, which could lead to numerous breathing problems.
There is a huge change in the central nervous system of cats as they age. This leads to a number of cognitive and behavioral changes. They may lead to a lesser amount of sleep and restlessness. As they have poor vision and hearing, they find it hard to go into deep sleep.
Their mental decline is somewhat like Alzheimer’s in humans. They seem disoriented and confused, and are less reactive to their surroundings. They may even become very distant physically and emotionally or grow to be extremely needy and attention seeking.