What is considered old age for cats? The old classic “one human year equals seven cat years” is an easy way to calculate and relate to your cat’s age, but isn’t entirely accurate. The feline stage of life (kitten, adolescent, adult, senior) determines the comparison between human and cat years.
As a general rule of thumb, a cat who is 8 to 10 years old and older should be considered middle to senior aged, and a consultation with your vet is in order to determine the best health care maintenance program for your cat as s/he ages.
Each cat, like each human, is different. Here are some general things to watch for as a cat age.
Admittedly, this can be hard to discern for many cats! You know your cat best — do you notice any of the following:
Cats can experience hearing loss. The loss may be barely noticeable, or, as in the case of some cats, the hearing loss can be total.
Always have your vet examine your cat’s ears if there is a question of hearing loss — to rule out parasites, infection, growths in the canal, or other medical problems that could interfere with normal hearing.
Like dogs, cat’s eyes often show a bluish transparent “haze” in the pupil area.
This is a normal effect of aging, and the medical term for this is lenticular sclerosis. Vision does not appear to be affected. This is NOT the same as cataracts. Cataracts are white and opaque. Vision can be affected by cataracts, and your vet needs to be consulted (see “when is it time to see the vet?” below).
Also known as iris atrophy, some cats eyes, particularly those lighter in color, may appear to be “moth-eaten” as they age. This does not appear to affect vision, but some cats may become more light sensitive. Increased pigmentation in the iris may indicate a risk for malignant iris melanoma and should be checked by your vet.
Mild loss of muscle mass, especially the hind legs, may be seen with old age. If your cat is having trouble walking, see your veterinarian. Some cats with Diabetes Mellitus can have nerve problems and become “dropped in the hocks” and have trouble walking, see your vet if your cat is having trouble standing or walking.