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Senior Care Program

What is the Senior Care Program?

The diagnostic details! 
Some Final Words!
Senior Cats Need Senior Care!
Common Senior Cat Issues

What is the Senior Care Program?
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It is a compilation of diagnostic tests in conjunction with more frequent physical examinations to evaluate a cat's overall health and to screen for common senior cat diseases. The earlier we are able to diagnose diseases in older cats, the higher the likelihood that we will be able to institute treatment that will be effective in curing or managing the disease.

Recommendations for cats with no clinical signs of disease (apparently healthy cats)

  • Physical examinations at least every 6 months starting at no later than 10 years of age - (ideally in cats of all ages)
  • Diagnostic testing no less than once yearly including the following tests: complete blood count, serum chemistry panel including a thyroid level, complete urinalysis, blood pressure in selected patients, and FELV/FIV testing in cats with exposure risk.

Recommendations for cats with clinical signs of disease (based on history and physical exam findings)

  • Physical examinations every 6 months starting no later than 10 years of age.
  •  Diagnostic testing no less than every six months including the following tests: complete blood count, serum chemistry panel including a thyroid level, complete urinalysis and urine culture with sensitivity testing, blood pressure, and FELV/FIV testing in cats with exposure risk.

The diagnostic details

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): provides detailed information of number and character of red and white blood cells and platelets. This test can help to identify different types of infection and inflammation, anemia, or clotting problems.
  • Serum Chemistry Panel: provides information about the kidney and liver screens for diabetes, checks electrolyte and protein levels. This test can identify or rule out a number of different diseases including kidney failure, diabetes, and liver disease.
  • Thyroid level: basic testing will look at the total circulating thyroid hormone levels. Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common diseases we see in senior cats and has a very good prognosis if treated appropriately.
  • Blood Pressure Measurement: measured with a Doppler blood pressure monitor, the systolic pressure (higher number) is a very important value as high blood pressure can lead to or worsen retinal detachment (which can cause blindness), heart muscle disease, or kidney failure.
  • Complete Urinalysis: evaluation of the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine, identification of abnormal contents such as crystals, red blood cells, white blood cells, bacteria, glucose, protein or bilirubin. This test not only helps us look for infection or inflammation of the bladder and kidneys, but also helps us evaluate kidney function and screen for diabetes and liver disease.
  • Urine Culture with Susceptibility Testing: A urine culture is the most sensitive way to identify a bacterial urinary tract infection. The susceptibility testing will identify bacteria if present and tell us which antibiotics are appropriate for use for treatment.
  • Feline Leukemia and FIV Testing: these are two incurable retroviruses that are transmitted from cat to cat through direct saliva contact. They can cause a variety of disease syndromes and, if present, can significantly change the treatment or prognosis for certain diseases. We recommend testing all indoor/outdoor cats as well as any indoor cat that is ill because the viruses can lie dormant for months to years in some cats causing false negative blood tests initially.

Some Final Words
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Won't I know if my cat is sick?

  • Changes in a cat's lab work may precede physical changes. In conjunction with a physical examination, laboratory work can help us detect diseases earlier. Early detection and management can lead to a significant improvement in your cat's quality of life and may even lengthen your cat's life span. Cats are true masters at hiding illness and pain (weakness means vulnerability in the wild, and even our domestic cats have evolved to maintain this ability to hide illness), so waiting until cats show evidence of illness in many cases delays needed care.

Senior Cats Need Senior Care!
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As most people know, our cats age faster than we do. A 10 year old cat is the equivalent of about 57 human years and each cat year thereafter is equal to 4 to 5 human years. Because cats age faster, their health problems can develop and progress faster. At Cat Hospital of Chicago we have developed our Senior Care Program using guidelines developed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners to provide optimal health care for our senior patients through early identification and management of diseases. The Senior Care Program also helps us to set a diagnostic baseline with which future lab results may be compared.

Common Senior Cat Issues

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  • Chronic renal insufficiency or failure
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Dental Disease
  • Subclinical Infections
  • Anemia
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer

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