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Nurturing Your Senior Cat, Chapter 2

Heart Disease and Cancer


Heart Disease

The most common form of heart disease in cats is cardiomyopathy, which means, disease of the heart muscle. Cardiomyopathy may present as hypertrophic (HCM), typically seen in middle aged cats, or dilated, which was seen more often prior to the addition of taurine to commercial cat food. Pulmonary edema is frequently associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Hyperthyroidism can be a causative facter in HCM. Diagnosis is usually accomplished through a combination of x-ray, ultrasound and/or EKG.

    Warning Signs:
  • Labored breathing
  • Loss of appetite

  • Inactivity and lethargy

  • Weakness in rear limbs

  • Coughing

    Treatment and Mangement:
  • Medication
    Depending on related problems, such as hypertension, your veterinary will prescribe different drugs.


Cancer is the number one killer of older cats in the United States, most commonly in the form of leukemia, sarcomas and breast cancer. As with humans, early diagnosis increases the cat's chances of survival, particularly in light of the aged cat's frequently compromised immune system. Although prevention is difficult, spaying or neutering your cat can help decrease its chances of breast cancer.

    Warning Signs:
  • Palpable lump or swelling
    It is especially important with an older cat to check him or her regularly for unusual lumps. This can be done as part of your regular brushing routine. Don't forget to check inside his mouth and ears.
  • Redness or sores on the ears and/or nose of white cats
    Skin cancers are fairly common in white cats, particularly as they age.
  • Associated signs include lethargy, weight change, weakness and/or vomiting.
    Treatment and Management
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery

Any of these treatments may be used, or a combination, depending on the nature of the cancer.

This is the conclusion of Chapter 2 of a 3-chapter series on Nurturing Your Senior Cat.

The Senior Cat Series

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Cats
  4. Cat Care
  5. Caring for Senior Cats
  6. Common Senior Diseases
  7. Diseases that Target Older Cats - Nurturing Your Senior Cat - Part 2

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