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March 27, 2012
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News for animal health professionals

Animal Health SmartBrief Special Report: Senior Cats, Part I

Though more Americans own cats than dogs, feline pets see veterinarians less often than their canine counterparts. Ensuring cats' health is important throughout every stage of life, but senior cats are faced with additional health issues and concerns.

Part I of this Animal Health SmartBrief Special Report, below, examines senior feline wellness topics and common conditions important for veterinarians and owners to consider. Topics include nutrition, kidney disease, arthritis and behavior changes. Part II, to be published Thursday, will offer a Q&A with an expert in feline health, as well as resources for veterinarians and owners to ensure senior feline wellness.

If you don't receive Animal Health SmartBrief daily and find our report on senior cats useful, sign up for this timely e-newsletter. Animal Health SmartBrief delivers the stories making news in your profession directly to your inbox -- for FREE.

Hill’s® Prescription Diet® y/d™ Feline effectively controls feline hyperthyroidism. Most cats will have normal serum T4 concentrations within 8 weeks of feeding y/d Feline as the sole source of nutrition. Based on evaluation of hyperthyroid cats managed for 10 to 36 months with y/d Feline, 88% achieved T4 concentrations < 2μg/dl, well within the recommended range for effective management of hyperthyroidism. Learn more
  Wellness for Senior Cats 
  • Cat-specific recommendations for maintaining optimum health
    While many owners are tempted to forgo annual veterinary exams for their seemingly healthy cat, veterinarian Arlene Kim points out that veterinarians are trained to identify early warning signs of medical problems, such as dental disease, and provide vaccines that safeguard against many infections. Dr. Kim emphasizes the importance of comprehensive care, including heartworm prevention for all cats, keeping cats indoors where they are safe from predators and vehicles and feeding cats a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. WUPA-TV (Atlanta) (3/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Proper nutrition helps prevent and treat disease
    Maintaining a pet's optimal weight is essential to warding off disease, and food is an important tool veterinarians use to address illnesses in pets, including liver and kidney disease and allergies, writes veterinarian Ann Hohenhaus. Prescription diets are often used to combat diseases, and elimination diets are an important tool in determining the source of a pet's allergy. WebMD/Tales from the Pet Clinic blog (2/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Dental care is essential to maintaining cats' health
    The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that by age 3, 70% of cats will have developed gum disease. Veterinarian Lidja Gillmeister writes that this underscores the importance of routine dental care, including regular brushing with pet-approved products and dental cleanings by a licensed veterinarian. La Jolla (Calif.) Light (12/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Tumor risk from feline vaccines is low
    Some feline vaccines have been associated with tumor formation in one in 10,000 cats, according to veterinarian Karri Miller. Veterinarians inject vaccines in specific locations to make treatment easier should a tumor arise, and task forces have developed ways to minimize the risk from vaccines. Vaccination is still in cats' best interest because the risk from deadly disease is greater than the risk of developing a tumor, Dr. Miller writes. The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.) (2/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
 Leading experts back nutrition in management of feline hyperthyroidism
“For older cats, or cats that can’t tolerate I-131 therapy, Hill’s Prescription Diet y/d Feline gives veterinarians another way to help their feline patients who suffer from this disease.” – Dr. J. Catharine Scott-Moncrieff, Purdue University
Learn more

  Common Conditions in Senior Cats 
  • Research shows weight, parasites are problematic for cats
    Recent studies have found that roughly half of indoor cats are overweight or obese, which predisposes them to type 2 diabetes, behavior problems, arthritis, cancer and even depression. In another study, researchers detected at least one parasite upon fecal examination in 50.9% of the cats tested, with Cystoisopora species and Toxocara cati topping the list at 21% each. (2/21) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • See AVMA's brochures on senior pets, available in English and Spanish  LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Arthritis affects cats, too
    Osteoarthritis can occur in dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and even food animals, according to veterinarian Duncan Lascelles, professor of surgery and pain management at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. When cats have arthritis, they move less and stay closer to the ground, jumping less. Cats' pain also may prompt them to stop grooming themselves and using the litter box if the sides are too high, says veterinarian Marty Becker. ABC News (3/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Older cats are particularly susceptible to some conditions
    The chances of developing an illness increase as cats get older and symptoms are often subtle, writes veterinarian Ann M. Anderson. Litter box usage problems and unexplained weight loss or weight gain can all be signs of an underlying disease. Enrichment in the form of creative, active and social play is also important to help keep a spring in a geriatric cat's step. The Post-Bulletin (Rochester, Minn.) (3/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
According to the 2011 Bayer Veterinary Usage Study, 40% of cats had not been to the veterinarian in the last year, compared with 15% of dogs.


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The news summaries appearing in Animal Health SmartBrief are based on original information from news organizations and are produced by SmartBrief, Inc., an independent e-mail newsletter publisher. The AVMA is not responsible for the content of sites that are external to the AVMA. Linking to a website does not constitute an endorsement by the AVMA of the site or the information presented on the site. Questions and comments should be directed to SmartBrief at
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