Your kitty can get many kitten health issues from a young age. However, as they age, other health conditions can arise. Keep reading to learn more about senior cat health issues and what to do about them.

Aging In Cats Is Natural

Aging cats will go through many changes. This does not mean they are sick or have a disease. Some signs mimic conditions, but it could simply be that you now have an older cat.

Remember, a cat is considered a “senior” and no longer an adult, around seven or eight. So, by the time your older cats are about 12 years old, they’ll have gone through all their physical changes to being an elderly cat. 

For example, some specific changes you may notice these changes in your elderly cats:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Dehydration
  • Thinner skin
  • Grooming less
  • Claws are thick and brittle
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Possible health problems in older cats such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, degenerative joint disease, or dental disease

Depending on your cat’s age, these issues could simply be elderly cat problems. But there is the possibility that more is going on, so it could be elderly cat health problems instead.

Orange older cat laying down on concrete

Common Senior Cat Health Issues

With old age comes new health conditions. Some of these issues are common in cats of all ages, and some can even be congenital disabilities, but the health problems listed are most common in senior cats.


One of cats’ most common health problems is arthritis, an inflammation of the joints. It can be tricky to identify since it looks like your cat is slowing down due to age. In fact, your cat is slowing down because they’re in so much pain.

 Signs of arthritis include:

  • Aggressiveness (due to discomfort)
  • Avoiding the litter box (if it’s too difficult for them to climb in)
  • Little interest in playing
  • Difficulty grooming
  • Stiffness
  • Reduced movement

If your cat is also overweight, they’re more prone to arthritis. So keeping your cat on a healthy diet with high-quality cat food is essential.

Bring your kitty to the vet and get them checked for arthritis as they age. 


Cancer can occur at any time, depending on your cat’s health. In some cases, cats develop harmless tumors that may or may not become cancer.

Check your cat’s body regularly as they age to feel for any lumps or bumps that weren’t there before.

Depending on the type of cancer your has, they may also show symptoms of the following:

  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Poor coat condition
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
Gray older cat sleeping on a pink pillow

Cognitive Dysfunction (Senility)

Yes, your cat can get senile. Cognitive dysfunction affects memory and learning. It’s when your cat’s higher function of the brain declines, causing them to be forgetful.

Symptoms include the following:

  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Changes in sociability
  • Disorientation
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Vocalization


As cats age, it can be more difficult for them to stay hydrated. If they begin drinking less (or get to the point that they’re dehydrated), then constipation can occur.

The good thing is that constipation isn’t a disease. So you can easily help your cat get through it (with the help of your vet if needed).

You’ll be able to tell if your cat is constipated if they have a hard stool, has difficulty passing its stool, or is whining and straining to go to the bathroom.


Hearing loss can occur over time. Cats are in tune with all of their senses, so it may be difficult to tell if your cat is hard of hearing. However, they may lose their hearing if you notice the following.

  • Disoriented or dizzy
  • Easily startled
  • Meowing loudly
  • Unresponsive to calls

On the other hand, hearing loss could also signify something is wrong with their ears. Call the vet if you notice your cat shaking their head, excessively scratching their ear, or discharge emanating from the ear.

close up of front teeth fangs of black cat

Dental Disease

Did you know dental disease is one of the cats’ most common health issues? As a kitten, you should keep up with brushing your cat’s teeth because elderly cat teeth problems are no joke.

Tartar buildup and inflamed gums could cause infections such as gingivitis. In addition, it can affect your cat’s eating, drinking, and ability to groom themselves.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is a disease that can occur at any age since it can also be a genetic issue. However, older cats and obese kitties are prone to getting diabetes, which affects their blood sugar levels.

Luckily, diabetes is treatable, but there is no cure for it. You should bring your cat to the vet if you notice the following signs:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst (sometimes excessively)
  • Lethargy
  • Prone to infections (such as urinary tract infections or skin issues)
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss (sometimes rapidly)

Heart Disease

Cats can get heart issues, similarly to humans. Also known as cardiomyopathy or congestive heart failure, this disease occurs when the heart fails to pump blood. It’s primarily genetic and occurs in males more so than females.

If your cat is labored when doing basic activities, has difficulty breathing, or is lethargic, it’s best to bring them to the vet. 

Gray cat drinking from gray water bowl


Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension could be a standalone issue, or an underlying problem, such as kidney disease, may cause it.

High blood pressure may cause other brain, eyes, heart, and kidney issues.

Signs of hypertension include:

  • Eye changes (such as blindness or bleeding)
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

Should you notice any of these symptoms, bring your older cat to the vet as soon as possible.


Often occurring in cats over the age of ten, hyperthyroidism occurs in one or both of the thyroid glands. This condition affects the metabolism, causing it to speed up and go into overdrive.

There are many symptoms of hyperthyroidism, but some of them include the following:

  • Behavior changes (such as hyperactivity or being more vocal)
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Poor coat condition
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can damage other organs. However, with treatment, your cat can live with this disease for many years.

Kidney Disease

Sadly, kidney failure can be fatal if not treated right away. While this can’t be cured, your cat can maintain a good quality of life with the proper treatment. Unfortunately, most cats don’t show signs of kidney problems until about 75% of the kidneys are already damaged.

Symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • Depression
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor coat condition
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Your vet can regularly check your cat’s blood to catch this early on. If so, you can put your cat on a more appropriate diet and closely monitor their needs.

brown and black cat sitting outside a pink litter box with a gray litter scooper

Liver Disease

If you notice your cat losing appetite, vomiting, or having pale or yellowed gums, it could be liver disease.

Luckily, the liver can regenerate itself, but it will need veterinarian help. They may prescribe your cat antibiotics to ensure no infections occur. Supplements can also be helpful.

Vision Problems

Older cats tend to get eye issues, as well. For example, they can get glaucoma, cataracts, or retinal detachment.

If you notice your cat’s eyes being cloudy, dilated pupils, disorientation (bumping into things), or whiteness of the lens, they may have trouble seeing.

Luckily, you can bring them to the vet, and together, you can decide how best to help your kitty.

What Does Your Old Cat Need?

You can do many things at home to keep your old cats healthy and fit for a long time. For example, ensure they stay hydrated with multiple water bowls around the house, especially near their bed. Moving water fountains are ideal for enticing your kitty to drink.

In addition, you can keep up with brushing their coat (if they’ve slowed down on their grooming) and brushing their teeth.

Also, you should be in good touch with your veterinarian. Frequent visits may be needed. For instance, if your elderly cat has joint issues, then you can give them supplements (with your vet’s approval) to lessen the discomfort for your cat.

Overall, you’ll want to keep your cat as comfortable as possible in your house. Once you identify the main issue, cat care will become easier. 

Monitor Your Senior Cat

If you’re unsure whether they’re sick or old, it’s always best to go to the vet. At home, make it easier for your kitty to jump to their favorite places, put their bed in a quieter area, and ensure they’re comfortable.

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