For cats, our Senior Health Check service allows you to leave your cat with us for the day whilst we carry out checks on their blood pressure, urine, and blood samples if requested. They can then be collected in the afternoon or evening for an appointment when we can let you know the results and complete their vaccination. We can even administer wormers for you whilst they’re with us.
For dogs, obtaining a urine sample is an awful lot easier, and we don’t really have to worry about blood pressure so we can see them for a routine appointment. These additional checks are free alongside their booster vaccination, and the blood sample is a specially priced panel to give us an insight into kidney function and liver function.
For more information, contact the surgery and we can email or post out some further information to you.
How long can nine lives last?
Cats have long been recognised as having an amazing capacity to recover from some of the insults that life throws its way and in these days of better diet and better healthcare, a cat’s nine lives are lasting even longer. With advancing years, cats do tend to develop a number of problems and with some conditions in particular, the earlier the problem is identified, the more that can be done to influence the progression of the disease.
Kidney failure is the most worrying of these conditions. We very rarely know exactly what causes the damage, but this damage results in a failure to filter the blood adequately so products accumulate that effectively poison the body. The initial signs are an increased thirst which can be obvious as most cats actually need relatively little to drink. Cats should produce very concentrated urine and a urine sample can quickly reveal a problem but it is not always that simple to collect!
Combining this with results of blood tests helps us identify kidney problems and then we can use specially designed foods to limit the production of the main substance that causes problems ‘Urea’, along with a number of other products which we introduce when required to help with the knock on effects of anaemia, loss of appetite, protein and vitamin and mineral losses.
This is not a condition we can cure. Humans have regular hospital visits for filtration of their blood, but in cats such technology is not available, and nor is the ultimate treatment of a kidney transplant. Nevertheless, we can very often keep these cats happy for many years.
High blood pressure may develop in some cats with or without kidney problems, just like in many humans. The old adage of prevention being better than cure is especially appropriate with a problem that can suddenly leave your cat blind without any apparent warning. You may wonder how on earth we measure a cat’s blood pressure! It is not so different to that experienced by many of us owners.
One very common condition seen is Hyperthyroidism. These cats are sometimes described as Morris Minors which turn into Porsches! Thyroid hormone controls the speed of the metabolism so increases in the circulating level results in many changes in many organs. Cats lose weight despite eating everything in sight, their behaviour changes and we find that their heart rate rises because of changes to the heart muscle.
Once we have confirmed this suing blood testing, control involves daily medication, surgery, or radioactive iodine treatment, just like their owners would receive, but cats must be hospitalised and treated as actually being radioactive for a few weeks, so they have to stay in specially designed isolation accommodation.
Arthritis and old age are certainly words that you would put together and despite not showing the sort of changes that we may be familiar with in dogs, or even in humans, it is actually far more common than most people would expect. A recent survey of cats over 7 years found a staggering 75% of them to be affected. Because we don’t drag them out for walks, or throw a ball for them, we often don’t notice.
Generally we mainly spot that cats will change their behaviour and the changes have been referred to as the ‘Four faces of feline Pain’. They become less active and avoid using their cat flap, sleep more, groom less & can often begin to look quite scruffy. Recently introduced cat specific pain killers can take years off the way their legs feel and whilst they won’t revert to being a kitten, they’ll certainly avoid the need for a stair lift!
Not all cats will reach their pension age, but we do all hope to give them a thoroughly enjoyable life for as long as we all possibly can.