There was a time not all that that long ago when a cat’s lifespan was such that an 8-year-old cat was considered to be a senior. Today, this is no longer the case. The life expectancy of cats has increased considerably thanks to better nutrition, living safely indoors, and better veterinary care. Indeed, a cat’s lifespan indoors averages 13 to 17 years, and many cats even live into their 20’s!


Contrary to popular opinion, growing older is not a disease. Some older cats are more susceptible to different conditions, and some older cats are perfectly fine.

A cat’s lifespan is generally longer if the cat is kept safely indoors. The basic needs of your cat are fairly simple. You love your cat and you want your cat’s lifespan to be long. First, a comfortable sofa bed in a cozy, pleasantly warm area of your home is essential. A litter box that is kept clean and is easily accessible, preferably with lower sides. Clean water and quality cat food (ask your vet for a recommendation)is necessary…in general, the best food is grain-free food that has high moisture content.

AS a rule, a grown cat is fed twice a day unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian. Kibble should be given at your vet’s discretion, as it may be detrimental to a senior cat’s health. I always add L-Lysine to my cats’ wet food once daily, as it boosts a cat’s immunity. You may need to keep food and water in more than one place, and sometimes a second litter box is advisable.

Be sure to see your veterinarian regularly. On average twice a year for a healthy cat is recommended. I can’t emphasize this enough. A complete physical exam can assure you your cat is healthy, or detect any issues hopefully before they become serious.

Make life easier for your senior cat. Purchase pet steps so your cat doesn’t have to (or can’t) get on your bed. Create box steps so your cat can reach its favored spots.

For the safety of both you and your senior cat, keep a quality night light on.


Just like humans, cats are individuals who can begin to experience age-related physical changes as they age. It is most likely that some cats may encounter these changes between 7 and 10 years of age, and most do when they reach 12. Here’s how a cat ages when compared to a human:


1 yr old 16
2 yr old 21
3 yr old 25 10 yr old 53
12 yr old 61
And a 15-year-old cat is 73 in human years!!
• As your cat ages, there can be many physical and behavioral changes. An older cat is less effective at grooming itself which can result in matting, inflammation and skin odor. An older cat’s skin is thinner and less elastic and is more prone to infection. It also has reduced blood circulation.
• An older cat’s immune system is less able to fight off infection and disease.
• Hearing loss is common in older cats.
• Arthritis is common in older cats
• Hyperthyroidism – Hyperthyroidism is fairly common in cats 13 years old and older. It is quite uncommon in cats 10 years old and younger, with only 5% becoming hyperthyroid.
What is hyperthyroidism? Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of thyroid hormones by the thyroid glands.

Signs of hyperthyroidism may be subtle and then increase in severity as the disease progresses. Signs include weight loss, increased appetite, increased thirst, and urination. If treated properly and early, a cat may make a full recovery.


There are 4 treatment options:
1. Radioactive iodine therapy
2. Medication
3. Surgery
4. Dietary therapy
In RADIOACTIVE IODiNE THERAPY, it is injected under the skin and concentrates in the thyroid gland, destroying overactive thyroid cells.
MEDICATION – Methimazole is used to treat hyperthyroidism in cats.
SURGERY – removal of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) has a good success rate and most likely is a permanent cure.
DIETARY THERAPY – prescription food that is iodine-restricted can help, but the effects of long-term iodine restriction is still being studied.

It’s important to note that cats with hyperthyroidism on this diet CANNOT be fed anything but their prescription food.


kidney disease (CKD) is the persistent loss of kidney function over time. CKD occurs in cats of all ages, but is most common in older cats and occurs in approximately 3 out of 10 geriatric cats.

Kidneys perform a variety of vital tasks:
• Eliminate protein wastes
• Balance body water, salts, and acids
• Produce quality urine
Kidney disease impairs kidney function.
There are two types of kidney diseases:
1. Chronic kidney disease – here kidney function declines slowly. Mild signs of chronic kidney disease do progress as kidney disease worsens.
2. Acute kidney disease – if a cat suffers an injury to the kidneys, it may become very seriously ill and stop urinating completely. Death often follows.

Early signs of mild kidney disease include frequent thirst and urination. Sometimes the cat owner doesn’t realize how much kitty is drinking, but if the litter box has an unusually large amount of clumped litter (if you are using clumping litter) or large pools of urine, that warrants a trip to the vet as soon as possible.

Signs of severe kidney disease may show:
• Vomiting
• Weight loss
• Increased urination and thirst
• Decreased appetite
Your cat may sleep more and groom less.

There are risk factors that can initiate kidney disease, such as infection, kidney stones, blockage of the urethra (the tubes leading from the kidneys to the bladder), cancer, polycystic kidney disease (polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited condition in cats.) It causes multiple cysts (which are fluid-filled pockets that form in the kidneys.) These cysts are present from birth, and at first, are quite small but increase in size over time and eventually, they may impair kidney function.

If you suspect your cat may have CKD, take him to your vet as soon as possible.

A frequent question is: “What is the life expectancy of cats with chronic kidney disease?” The cat’s lifespan can vary depending upon how well kitty responds to treatment in the initial stage of the illness, and the quality of follow–up care. Treatment is encouraged – many cats do have a good quality of life and can live as long as four more years. From my personal experience, I can tell you that my 17-year-old cat has had CKD for about 2 years now and got a good bill of health at a recent vet checkup.


1. Because senior cats are harder to find homes for, you’re saving a life and giving a senior cat a loving home.
2. Senior cats are calmer and more relaxed and less likely to get into trouble.
3. Senior cats tend to be good about using a scratching post and not your furniture.
4. Senior cats are good at using the litter box.
5. Senior cats have longer and better attention spans and are easier to train.
6. A senior cat’s personality is already developed, so you know what you’re getting and if he/she is a good fit.
7. Senior cats seem to be very thankful for being adopted.