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12 Telltale Signs Of A Cat Aging That Are not Always Obvious

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The telltale signs of a cat aging are sometimes not noticed right away. Our lives can seem to go on automatic pilot and when we look back at a period of time we wonder how it passed so quickly.

This can be the case when we realize that a beloved cat is getting older. Our pets getting older is a thought that we may push to the back of our mind but eventually it does catch up with us.

There are different stages of aging and for quite a few years cats meander along in the mature stage. At some point they start to exhibit some signs of cat aging.

Cats become officially old at around 11 and geriatric around 15. Remember that when you are dealing with your elderly kitty. Extra patience will be needed in addition to being attuned to any changes, that might need a trip to the vet.

Typically, signs of old age are first noticed because the older cat isn’t quite as agile as he used to be and may show signs of difficulty jumping to some of his favorite high places.

signs of an aging cat
I’ve found a comfy spot

Typical Signs Of A Cat Aging

Disclaimer: The following information is to assist the reader with common problems that may occur in aging cats however is not intended in any way to replace advice from a veterinarian but rather supply general information. A veterinarian diagnosis is essential for medical issues.

Typical Signs Of A Cat Aging Behavioral Signs Of A Cat Aging
Eyesight Aggression
Cancer FCD Or Feline Cognitive Decline
Thyroid Personality Change
Diabetes Sleep And Play
Dental Litter Box Problems
Arthritis And Joint Pain


Older cats commonly have problems with their vision. If you notice vision problems, for example, the cat bumps into furniture, trips or the eyes have a cloudy appearance or a runny discharge, seek professional help.

If treated in the early stages there will be a greater chance that the condition can be treated. This article from Cornell Feline Health Center outlines different vision problems that can affect middle aged and older cats. It is stressed that early intervention is crucial. The best way that cat owners can help to prevent some of these problems progressing is from having eye checks when visiting the vet.

Older cats, like humans will rely on using a different sense, such as smell, if they have vision loss. Often vision loss can be happening slowly over a period of time, for example the formation of cataracts or glaucoma.

cat having an eye check - signs of aging
Cat having an eye check up by a veterinarian.


For a cat owner often an initial sign of cancer is noticing a lump or bump that wasn’t always there. Lumps and bumps can have many different causes however your vet will assess the possible causes and determine the best course of action.

Like treating cancer in humans, there have been huge strides in pet oncology and some cats have a good prognosis if the cancer is caught early enough or is treatable.

Don’t ignore newly found bumps. It may mean nothing and just be an old war wound but it is far better to know for sure.

cat being check by the vet


Of the two types of thyroid conditions, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, it is hyperthyroidism that is more common in cats.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in older cats can include:
* loss of weight
* rapid heartbeat
* and an increase in hunger.

As older cats commonly lose weight with age it can be difficult to distinguish loss of weight with normal signs of a cat aging.

An old cat with bad teeth or even no teeth, can still manage to eat a nutritious diet. Cat’s teeth do not work in the same way as our teeth.


Diabetes Mellitus in cats occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. Some of the signs of this lack of insulin can be increased thirst, loss of weight, excess urine production along with an insatiable appetite.

Being overweight is another factor and if your cat is diagnosed with diabetes his weight will need to be controlled within healthy levels.

If your cat is primarily indoors , these signs of a cat aging may be more obvious than if your cat is often outside for eating, drinking and urination. These vital signs can then be missed if the cat is sometimes outdoors, as the cat is not necessarily being observed as often.

vet injecting aging cat
We gave our cat injections twice daily for diabetes

Our elderly cat developed diabetes at the age of 14 and required insulin injections twice daily before meals. Once diagnosed he had periodic visits to the vet to have his blood glucose levels checked. We managed his condition well and he did pass away some three and a half years later.

There is more about his diabetes journey here and how we coped with management of the disease.

For a thorough description of feline diabetes and how to administer insulin this is a very good article from Cornell University, College of Veterinary Science.

Here are some tips to make life for your elderly cat more comfortable. You and the cat will be happy.


Tartar does build up on a cat’s teeth and the teeth need to be professionally cleaned from time to time. Often the first sign to cat owners of teeth problems is that the cat has bad breath however at this stage disease has probably been present for some time.

Older cats can manage with no teeth and still eat a healthy diet. If possible you want to avoid teeth problems which if left untreated may then lead to gum problems. Gum problems can also lead to tooth loss.

cat having teeth checked - sign of aging


Obvious signs of a cat aging almost always include grooming changes. The grooming habits of cats decreases with age and their fur may become matted or untidy. On the flip side, your older cat may display signs of over-grooming and even lick patches of skin bare.

The nails get longer and thicker any may be hard to trim. This may be something that you would prefer the vet to take care of.

Arthritis And Joint Pain

Arthritis in older cats means that they can’t move as freely as when they are younger. You may notice subtle differences in movement such as stiffness when bending to reach a food or water bowl and difficulty getting to a comfortable lying position, less play and difficulty climbing stairs.

an overweight elderly cat
An overweight cat.

Ensure your older cat is not overweight as this will place an unnecessary burden on already aching joints. Your vet may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication or a joint supplement. It is vital that these medications are prescribed by a vet.

Visit The Veterinarian

You may find yourself visiting the vet more frequently. For many years our cat did not go to the vet apart from immunizations and the occasional complaint. This changed as he entered old age, which is to be expected.

If you are unsure about any of the signs of a cat aging you are seeing, such as the cat eating more or being constantly hungry, drinking more, showing stiffness in movement, having accidents or not using the litter box and so on, it is time to visit the vet.

cat having a check up from the vet
A thorough check up is needed more frequently as cats age

Behavioral Signs Of A Cat Aging


Displaying signs of aggressive behavior may indicate that the cat is stressed or anxious and this could be because the routine in the household has changed.

Perhaps a family member has left home or there is a new baby or maybe pain and illness are causing these changes. One of the signs of a cat aging is that he may begin to meow more and with aggression for no particular reason.

Be patient if your elderly cat starts displaying behaviors that may seem out of character. If you feel that something is not right then get professional help.

Signs of a cat aging include joint stiffness. Help your senior cat get up on to the couch or the bed or the window ledge.

FCD Or Feline Cognitive Decline

You may have read of FCD or Feline Cognitive Decline on the internet in relation to signs of a cat aging. This is an instance where your vet will give the diagnosis. Behavior changes can be linked to physical changes and your vet may prescribe or suggest treatment to help with these changes.

Personality Change

If your cat has always been rather aloof and disliked being held or carried when he was younger, he may now, in his old age, be happy to be picked up and even carried around. This is also a nice time to have a little chat to kitty.

Your aging cat may also enjoy being petted or having a brush using a grooming glove. Go easy to see how the cat responds. Most cats (and dogs too) adore these massage gloves. It is also a relaxing for the person using the glove and is a nice way to spend some quiet time with your cat.

Sleep And Play

Your senior cat will sleep more as he ages and won’t have the energy he had once.
He won’t play as much or for as long as he used to but still enjoys human interaction.

old cat sleeping more
At almost 17 years

How do you find the best bed for your aging cat? What are the things you need to know before you start looking.

Playing with a wand toy is always stimulating for a cat even if the playtime is now short and sweet.

The beauty of a simple wand toy is that you are in control of the speed with which you wave the wand so it is super easy to adapt for older cats and their energy level.

Another great toy for older cats is the interactive laser toy.

Your cat may wander off when he has had enough but he will return. It’s a bit like going back to the buffet when you know you have really had enough to eat.

Now we don’t want to set kitty up with psychological issues but laser pointer toys are entertaining for cats.

Litter Box Problems

Signs of a cat aging often include the development of litter box problems.

This can be attributed to a variety of reasons, for example, an underlying medical problem such as a urinary tract infection, stress or anxiety, constipation or kidney stones or even an eyesight problem.

The vet can treat the medical issues and you can help with the behavioral issues.

Try to leave the litter box where it has always been, making sure the cat can enter and exit the box easily.

If the cat has difficulty entering and exiting the litter box, a consequence may be not using the litter box at all. Once these habits are established in older cats, it can be difficult to reverse the behavior.

Low Sided Litter Box For Elderly Cats

A low sided litter box is essential for elderly cats. This article shows the different types available and reviews the suitability for senior cats. One box is a doggy box, don’t be put off by that. It is a great box for senior cats. The litter box doesn’t need to be low on all sides, it is the entry that is most important.

How To Look After A Litter Box

Check the cleanliness of the litter box. This article gives step by step instructions to keep the litter box in superb shape. Cats do not like a grubby litter box and may just say “no thanks” and who knows where they will choose to do their business. This is easily fixable even if it may require a little more monitoring of the state of the litterbox from you.

Pretty Litter

Consider using PrettyLitter which uses technology to identify potential medical issues. The ph. level of the cat’s urine turns the litter different colors. The different colors point to a possible problem which can then be further investigated by the vet. PrettyLitter is having success with alerting owners to potential problems. This is a game changing litter. Check it out!

Visiting The Vet

Visit the vet, explain the behaviors you have seen that differ from normal. Ask for a general health check up.

The vet will also want to know if you have taken any steps to treat any problems. This may be behavioral or perhaps a change in diet you have made and specifically the steps you have taken to help alleviate the problem. Working hand in hand with your vet, you will know that you are doing all the right things.

Video Your Aging Cat

Our senior cat passed away and now that some time has passed, I have cherished looking at the many photos, the whole family took of the cat over the years.

It is quite amazing to see how may cat photos we actually took. Many look almost identical to each other.

However as nice as the photos are, it is however the short videos that are really heart-warming and heart wrenching at the same time.

Take a few minutes to make some short videos on your phone to go along with the no doubt countless photos you already have. You will be very glad you have those mementos even if they are somewhat painful to watch. A video put you right back there with your kitty and although that is hard to take it is lovely too.

cats reading the paper in bed
I’m having trouble reaching down to my food bowl. Maybe a touch of arthritis! I’m not getting old though!

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