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Discussion Starter #1
At what age do you think a cat is a senior cat?
Do you take your senior cat to the vet every 6 months?
Do you have additional tests done for your senior cat?


The vet office where I take my cats think cats are senior at age 9. They recommend additional testing including blood work, urinalysis, heartworm test, blood pressure, eye exam and x-rays. I hate to put my cats through all that but want to do what is best for them.
 

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My MowMow will turn 8(ish) this summer and he has an appointment already set up for physical, blood panel, and urinalysis. My vet also considers them a senior @ 9.

I don't think my guy will need to go more than once a year unless something comes up. I want to take him in for all the above so he has a baseline while he's healthy. This way if any thing comes up they will have something to compare too.

Unless someone gives a compelling reason for the heartworm test and X rays I will not request or give the ok to have those done. MowMow doesn't go outside and hasn't had fleas in the years I've had him. Heartwork seems unlikely and I'm not sure what a senior X ray would look for.... The BP and basic eye exam should be part of the general physical, it is with my vet.

The kitten will go with us for his yearly checkup but it will just be a basic exam, possibly a fecal to see if he's so desperate for food for reasons other than being a pig.
 

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I personally consider a cat senior at age 10, but I no real justification for that. I agree with annual blood/additional tests starting at whatever age you consider senior. I don't think 6 month check ups are necessary unless the annual testing indicates that something might be brewing.

My personal experience:

I started doing annual blood/urine tests on Maggie when she was 10. She had testing done in Nov 2008 when she was 12 and the vet called and said everything was perfect. Then I was laid off the following Jan, and I started my own business...of course money was tight and I let the yearly testing lapse. Just before Christmas (2011) I woke up to Maggie in crisis (vomiting, hyperventilating, heart racing, etc.). She was diagnosed with hyperthyroid.

I had made 2 mistakes...one was not continuing the regular testing. The other was not getting copies of the reports and reviewing them and making sure I understood them. I got a copy of her 2008 blood test and found that her results really weren't 'perfect'. Yes, her thyroid number was in the normal range, but only by .1 Had I known that, I definitely would have continued to monitor it and we wouldn't have ended up with a very scary experience in Dec. She's fine now...I just updated her thread today.

So...if you're doing the tests, make sure you get the reports and understand what they're saying. If there's something you don't understand, ask your vet.
 

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I don't generally consider a cat a senior until the teens (13), though just like with humans, some cats age much more quickly than others. Annual bloodwork including a full blood chemistry, CBC, and Total T4 should be run on seniors at least once annually - more often if any symptoms occur such as decreased (or increased) appetite, weight loss, frequent vomiting or diarrhea, constipation, increased thirst, poor coat quality, blindness, or increased vocalization. Urinalysis can be useful in helping to clarify certain ambiguous blood tests results, like high normal renal values. An eye exam should be standard practice with any vet checkup. I would love to have blood pressure checked on my senior cats regularly, but the nearest vet who has the necessary equipment to perform feline blood pressure is 100 miles away. If I had an extra $600 lying around, I'd buy my own doplar to check my cats' blood pressures at home.

I don't have x-rays taken unless they have specific diagnostic value for an acute medical ailment. I also don't have heartworm tests run on my cats.

Laurie
 

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Doodlebug made a very important point in recommending that you acquire and maintain copies of ALL of your cats' lab results throughout their lifetimes and learn how to read them. There are numerous web pages online that provide basic information on feline blood values and what they may mean diagnostically.

I keep a spreadsheet on my computer for each of my cats where I enter all lab reports and health histories. That way, I can track any changes over time and bring them to the attention of my vet, if necessary. In fact, my vet gives me a little discount because I bring a copy of the spreadsheet in any time I take an animal to the vet. The spreadsheet saves my vet time and makes appointments more efficient and productive.

Laurie
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The BP and basic eye exam should be part of the general physical, it is with my vet.
I believe the eye exam would be more extensive than the basic eye exam and I don't think I've ever had a cats BP taken.

make sure you get the reports and understand what they're saying.
I keep a spreadsheet on my computer for each of my cats where I enter all lab reports and health histories.
Great ideas. I'll pick up the blood work results when I take the younger cat in for his exam later this month.

At my vet's office they have senior wellness screening packages. The packages are less expensive than having all the tests done separately. I'll have to compare the costs of the tests I feel are needed to the cost of the packages.

Thanks for all of your responses.
Jan
 

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Regardless of whether it is cheaper to buy a wellness package that includes x-rays, I would still advise against them unless there is an acute medical issue that necessitates them. It's unwise to expose any animal to unnecessary radiation just for the heck of it.

Laurie
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Regardless of whether it is cheaper to buy a wellness package that includes x-rays, I would still advise against them unless there is an acute medical issue that necessitates them. It's unwise to expose any animal to unnecessary radiation just for the heck of it.

Laurie
I didn't realize an annual x-ray would be bad. My older cat was recently sick and an x-ray and blood work were recommended. Thankfully he has completely recovered. :smile:
 

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My vet considers a cat 7 yrs+ to be a senior. Regardless, I do a wellness exam every year, which involves taking blood and sometimes urine, but not x-rays. I didn't start doing this until I learned the hard way that not doing it is risking your cat's health. I had a cat, Misty, who I took to the vet regularly, but did not do wellness exams for because I did not think they were worth the $$ at the time. One day I noticed she was very sluggish. I continued to monitor her and she got no better. When I finally did take her into the vet and have full bloodwork analysis and urinalysis done, it showed she had diabetes. Not just borderline diabetes, but full blown diabetes where a shot was required every day. I lost that cat because I didn't discover the problem until it was too far gone. She was 11 yrs old. After that, all my cats have had wellness exams on an annual basis. For a senior cat I believe it is life-saving. If you cannot afford to do it every year then do it every other year.
 

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I think annual labwork and urine testing for cats 10 and up is essential! Make sure the labwork includes thyroid checks. I can see the value in x-rays and BP, but only if something is off on the labwork. Cats with thyroid and kidney disease can have high BP, should always be checked when diagnosed. X-rays can also give you a picture of the size and shape of internal organs, might give you an idea of kidney health (lumpy, enlarged, shrunken, stones) intestinal health (thickened lining), Heart and lung health (hidden heart disease is a big killer in cats, xrays MIGHT detect a slight enlargement of the heart that would indicate further testing that might diagnose a cardiomyopathy. So yes, xrays are valuable, but not without supportive evidence from labwork. I might take full body xrays (catogram) when your cat becomes a senior (9 or 10 years) and just have those on file for future reference if he or she does develop problems. ALways good to have a baseline. Same with labwork, its good to have it for a baseline. But in a senior cat, annual senior labwork can be lifesaving.
 

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X-rays can also give you a picture of the size and shape of internal organs, might give you an idea of kidney health (lumpy, enlarged, shrunken, stones) intestinal health (thickened lining), Heart and lung health (hidden heart disease is a big killer in cats, xrays MIGHT detect a slight enlargement of the heart that would indicate further testing that might diagnose a cardiomyopathy. So yes, xrays are valuable, but not without supportive evidence from labwork.
Sadly, I learned that x-rays are valuable the hard way. My cat, Pepper, 6 yrs old, died suddenly in Feb after going in for a dental (where he had anesthesia). He had been on anesthesia twice before but not had a problem. The vet did a necropsy and discovered that he had a sub-clinical heart condition. His heart was twice the size of a normal cat, and he died from heart failure. I think an x-ray every few years is not a bad thing. It may have saved his life had I done it before he died.
 

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Sadly, I learned that x-rays are valuable the hard way. My cat, Pepper, 6 yrs old, died suddenly in Feb after going in for a dental (where he had anesthesia). He had been on anesthesia twice before but not had a problem. The vet did a necropsy and discovered that he had a sub-clinical heart condition. His heart was twice the size of a normal cat, and he died from heart failure. I think an x-ray every few years is not a bad thing. It may have saved his life had I done it before he died.
I am very sorry to hear about Pepper. What a horrible shock to take a young cat in for routine dental work and lose him due to heart failure.

Thanks to everyone for their input. I will definitely be getting additional tests done on my older cats, even if they are still my babies.
 
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