Our team continues to be here for you and your cherished pets. We are OPEN and are now able to provide a wide range of services. To learn more about the changes we have implemented in response to COVID-19 and what to expect during your next visit, click here.

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Healthy Aging in Cats – What Changes Are Normal?

As a veterinarian, I often hear clients talk about their older cats “slowing down” or showing other signs of their advancing age. The truth is that yes, your cat’s behaviour will normally change a bit as he/she ages, but the key is determining when these changes become abnormal. By understanding what healthy ageing looks like, you’ll know when it’s time to call your veterinarian.

If he/she is ageing in a healthy way, your kitty:

  • Shows no signs of cognitive decline, including disorientation, changes in interactions with people and other animals in the home, strange sleep-wake cycles, new house-soiling behaviours, or changes in activity (DISHA).
  • Has no chronic issues with his/her eyes or ears requiring ongoing treatment, and s/he can see, hear, and smell well enough that s/he is still master of his/her surroundings.
  • Shows no signs of pain in his/her joints and still moves through life like a ballerina – gracefully and smoothly. S/he can still jump, although maybe not quite as high as s/he used to.
  • May lose a small amount of weight, including muscle mass, but this loss should be minimal and not interfere with his/her ability to move around, eat, drink, play, and use the litterbox as needed.
  • Has clean, healthy teeth and a mouth free of gingivitis, tartar, or any lesions or disease-causing pain.
  • Breathes easily and calmly with no episodes of increased respiratory rate and/or effort, and generally shows normal attitude and appetite at home.
  • Has normal litterbox habits, meaning there’s been no increase (or decrease) in the amount s/he drinks and (subsequently) urinates, no problems with constipation – even though older cats are prone to this – and s/he does not show signs of straining in the box, diarrhea, urinating or defecating outside the box, or increased frequency of urination.
  • Has a healthy coat and nails, may sleep more than s/he used to but still has the energy to play and engage with his/her family, and does not yowl or pace around the house.

When is it important to call your veterinarian? Here are some behaviours that need to be checked out:

  • Significant weight loss, especially when the spine becomes prominent or the cat generally feels “bony.”
  • Sleeping all day with very little interaction with people in the home.
  • Increased drinking and urination.
  • Any significant change in appetite – up or down. If a cat is not eating at all, that is an emergency.
  • Straining in the litterbox, urinating/defecating outside the box, and/or blood in the urine or stool.
  • Yowling and/or restlessness.
  • Hiding.
  • Foul smell from the mouth, hesitating to eat and/or difficulty eating (e.g., dropping food, strange or exaggerated chewing, etc.).
  • Vomiting regularly, especially if it is once daily or more.
  • Walking stiffly, difficulty jumping, limping, walking like he/she is “drunk.”
  • Coughing, wheezing, breathing quickly or abdominal breathing.

The key here is knowing your cat and recognizing when something just doesn’t seem right. Sometimes all you may have is a feeling that something is off, and with cats often that’s all they’ll give you. We have a term for that in veterinary medicine – ADR (Ain’t Doin’ Right) – and more often than not there is a reason for even the most subtle changes in behaviour.

If you have any questions about your older cat’s health and how to best manage it, give us a call at 902-477-4040 or email info@spryfieldanimalhospital.com.

Written by: Dr, Emily Reiner, DVM

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Last updated: June 5, 2020

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we are pleased to advise that effective June 5, 2020 the restrictions on veterinary practices have been lifted. Based on these changes, below are some important updates to our operating policies.

1. WE CAN NOW SEE ALL CASES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, heartworm testing, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

2. SAFETY MEASURES TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE

3. OPERATING HOURS

Starting June 8, we are available to serve you and your pets during the following hours:

Monday to Friday: 7:30 am - 8:00 pm*
Saturday: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sunday: CLOSED

*On weekdays we will be closed for 1 hour in the afternoon in order to catch up on communications with our clients. This is a temporary measure. Thank you for your understanding.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- Your dedicated team at Spryfield Animal Hospital