First Aid for Cats: Coping with Geriatric Issues


As a cat owner, the day will come when your furry friend reaches their golden years. While it is not something that you can prepare for, it's important to know what happens to aging cats and how best to care for them.

In this article, we'll cover everything from diagnosing common geriatric issues in cats to coping with common symptoms such as incontinence and dementia. With these tips and tricks in hand, you'll be able to handle even the most difficult situations with grace and ease!

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections are one of the most common reasons for older cats to be taken to the vet. Urinary tract infections can be caused by bacteria, crystals, or stones in the kidneys or bladder, and they can lead to kidney failure. You might notice that your cat has difficulty urinating, blood in their urine (which may not always be visible), frequent urination, or straining while using the litter box.

Urinary tract infection symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination - This could mean going many times during one day or night; however it's best if you keep track so that you can notice any changes over time
  • Blood in urine - If this happens once then it doesn't necessarily mean anything is wrong but if there is a pattern where blood appears consistently then it could indicate a problem somewhere along the urinary tract

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is a serious condition, but it can be managed with proper care. The following information will help you to understand the signs of kidney failure, what treatment options are available, and what to do if your cat is diagnosed with this condition.

Symptoms of kidney failure in cats may include increased thirst and urination, intermittent vomiting, dehydration, sores in the mouth, foul breath, weight loss, decreased appetite, anorexia/refusal to eat, lethargy/excessive sleepiness, confusion, changes in behavior

If your vet suspects that your cat has kidney disease or another medical issue related to their kidneys (such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism), they may recommend blood work and urinalysis tests. These will help them determine whether further diagnostic testing is needed; however, these tests only provide information on how well the kidneys are functioning at that moment in time--they don't pinpoint long-term problems or give any clues about why they might be failing in the first place.

Diabetic Cats

Diabetes is a common condition in cats and can result from various factors, including old age and obesity. The number of cases has been increasing in recent years, with an estimated 14% of all cats affected by the disease. Diabetes is more common in dogs than it is in cats, but the symptoms are similar--and they can develop quickly.

Diabetic cats will have high blood sugar levels due to either insufficient production or poor use of insulin by their bodies' cells (insulin resistance). These high levels cause damage to organs such as the kidneys and eyesight over time. If left untreated, diabetes could lead to seizures or coma before death occurs within weeks or months after diagnosis.

Arthritis and Joint Pain

Arthritis and joint pain are common in older cats, and they can be very painful. Cats are not as good at hiding their pain as dogs, so you may notice your cat limping or being stiff after resting for a while. Your cat might also lose interest in eating, which is a sign of discomfort from arthritis.

If you think your cat has arthritis or other joint problems, talk with your veterinarian about medications that could help manage these symptoms. There are many types of medications available for this purpose--from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to supplements like glucosamine hydrochloride--and some people find them successful while others do not notice much difference after starting treatment.

It's important to remember that although there are treatments available today that weren't available even ten years ago, most veterinarians agree there's no cure yet for chronic joint pain; only management strategies exist right now.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a disease of the spinal cord that causes weakness in the hind legs. It's common in older cats and may be treated with medication.

How to detect DM: Your vet can test for signs of degenerative myelopathy during a physical exam, but if your cat is showing symptoms it will likely be obvious. The cat will seem weak or uncoordinated when walking or jumping, have trouble getting up from lying down, have difficulty climbing stairs or jumping onto furniture, or have a hard time balancing while standing on its hind legs. If you notice any of these issues in your geriatric kitty friend's gait, bring him/her to the vet right away!

Dental Disease

As your cat ages and loses teeth, dental disease can become a serious issue. Dental disease is painful for cats and can lead to other health problems, including gum inflammation and infection. It's important to brush your cat's teeth regularly if you want to help prevent dental issues from developing in geriatric cats.

To brush your cat's teeth:

  • Use a small-headed toothbrush designed specifically for felines (or use an infant toothbrush cut down). Brush gently in circular motions over both sides of every tooth until they are clean

If you notice any signs or symptoms of dental disease in your elderly feline friend--such as drooling or changes in appetite--contact your vet immediately!

It's important to be aware of these issues in older cats.

As your cat gets older, it's important to be aware of these issues. They can be common or rare, but either way, they need to be dealt with. Sometimes they can be managed at home and other times veterinary care is needed.

Sometimes these issues are caught early through regular veterinary check-ups, so your vet may recommend blood tests or urine tests as part of their routine health check-ups for older cats. The test results may help them determine if a treatment will be effective and whether further testing is needed before starting any course of medication or other treatment options (such as antibiotics).


As you can see, there are many geriatric issues that you may need to deal with as your cat gets older. Most of these problems will require a trip to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. It's important that you know what signs to look for so that you can get help early if necessary.


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