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Saturday, November 14th, 2015 @ 3:00pm      

A comprehensive discussion about the care and management of cats in their golden years.    

Caring for Senior & Geriatric Cats from Animal Community Talks on Vimeo.

What we learned

Managing the stress of vet visits

We had a full audience on Saturday for Dr. Mesher's review of geriatric feline care.  First, she discussed some ways to adapt to the changing needs of cats as they age.  She addressed one of the most common reasons why owners choose not to take their cats to the vet - stress.  Regular veterinary care is extremely important for cats as they age, so she gave some advice for reducing their stress during these necessary visits.  She often prescribes a dose of Gabapentin to be given in advance, and provided tips for getting a cat in a carrier.

Diagnosing arthritis pain

Dr. Mesher is a mobile veterinarian and discussed the advantages of in-home care for elderly cats.  Arthritis is commonly overlooked when cats are examined in a clinic because the veterinarian rarely gets an opportunity to watch them walk or move.  How often has your cat, or your feline patients, endured an entire appointment within the confines of the carrier or exam room sink?  When at home, cats are more comfortable and their normal behavior can be observed.  Recognizing and treating arthritis pain is a keystone which can greatly improve grooming habits, litterbox behavior, aggression, and even appetite.

Dietary considerations

She reviewed some of Dr. Fletcher's information regarding the importance of balanced wet food as the optimal diet for cats.  Owners must understand that wet food is less convenient than dry food, and that a lot of wet food may be thrown away until the cat is accustomed to eating it.  It's a hard truth which must be accepted in order to proceed with the necessary dietary change.

Common diseases and ailments

She then moved on to a review of the most common medical ailments that affect our elderly cats, including diabetes, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, constipation, arthritis, cancer, hypertension, and kidney disease.  Each condition comes with its own unique challenges and treatment options.  Cats with multiple ailments sometimes also face even greater difficulty when treatments for one disease makes another worse.  She described a specific example of a cat with both heart and kidney disease, each with conflicting treatments. 

The Q&A portion gave audience members a chance to consult with Dr. Mesher and the group about their own cats.  Discussion included unusual vocalization (howling), and using Gabapentin as a stress reducer for cats who already take this medication for chronic pain.

 

 Attendees qualified for 1 CE credit approved by the Veterinary Medical Examining Board, Portland, Oregon.

ACT extends a sincere thanks to Dr. Louise Mesher for her time and expertise.