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Common problems owners see their geriatric cats develop include difficulties swallowing due to decreased saliva production, less tolerance to extreme heat and/or cold, gum disease and tooth loss, a change in litter habits, and not sleeping well.
Recent studies have uncovered a problem with potassium balance in many older cats. Poor coat condition, loss of appetite and lethargy have been linked to a mild form of hypokalemia, or low blood potassium. Low blood potassium damages cat's kidneys, which, in an older cat, are already weakening. This leads to a vicious cycle because declining kidney function increases loss of potassium in blood, which in turn causes further deterioration of kidneys.
Arthritis and stiffness is fairly common in older cats. Because it becomes more difficult to move, a geriatric cat spends more time sleeping. If her diet stays same, she'll begin to pack on pounds. The extra weight adds to her discomfort, making her more inclined not to move. Without exercise her muscles will weaken. It is important to encourage an older cat into some activity every day. Physical movement will help with digestion and bowel function, as well as keep her sharp mentally.
An older cat spends less time grooming herself than in her youth. As a result, her hair becomes dry and painfully matted. Regular grooming from her owner is required to keep her coat healthy and beautiful. Daily brushing removes loose hair that can form uncomfortable hairballs in her stomach.
As your cat gets older its important that she is comfortable. You should ensure that your cat has a comfortable, warm bed that she can stretch out on. Cushions and hammock bed on radiators are popular.
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