and Circulatory Disorders
cats born with heart defects may reveal no effects until later in
life, when there is increased stress on the heart and circulatory
system. Heart disease usually occurs in middle-aged cats (six to
eight years old).
most common acquired heart disease is cardiomyopathy, or failure of
the heart muscle. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may develop as a
separate disease, but in older cats it can develop secondary to
hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease.
some signs of heart disease (lack of energy and appetite, decreased
activity, long rest periods) can be easily confused with the normal
signs of old age, and thus may be overlooked until the disease is too
far advanced for treatment. Other signs to watch for are a marked
tendency to lie flat on the breastbone and reluctance to move from
that position, panting or open-mouth breathing (due to fluid
accumulation in the chest and resultant breathing difficulty), sudden
paralysis of the rear limbs, and, in severe cases, a bluish-gray
tongue (due to inadequate oxygen supply).
is a frequent malady of older cats that can be caused by a multitude
of different chronic diseases and by parasitism. Anemia is easily
detected by blood tests.
of the pancreas's islet cells, resulting in decreased insulin
production or a reduced ability of the body's cells to respond to
insulin, causes diabetes mellitus. The disease is characterized by an
unquenchable thirst, ravenous appetite, and increased urination.
Fortunately, diabetes can be controlled by dietary alteration and/or
by daily dosages of insulin or oral hypoglycemia agents, which aids
in the metabolism of carbohydrates.
liver of the older cat is susceptible to tissue degeneration and
disease. Signs indicative of liver disease include vomiting,
lethargy, poor appetite, neurologic dysfunction, and jaundice. There
is no cure for many of the liver disorders, but medications and
dietary management as prescribed by a veterinarian can help reduce
the signs of disease.
by the Cornell Feline Health Center, Cornell University, College of
Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, New York 14853-6401. The ultimate
purpose of the center is to improve the health of cats by developing
methods to prevent or cure feline diseases and by providing
continuing education to veterinarians and cat owners. Much of that
work is made possible by the financial support of friends. ©1983,
1984, 1988, 1994 by Cornell University. All rights reserved.