Ask Seth: Diseases in Senior Cats

What things should I be watching for?


Dear Seth,

My cat Elroy is 15 years old and I was wondering what diseases affect senior cats? What should I be looking out for?

That is a very good question. Many diseases affect senior cats. Here is a brief overview of four of the major diseases that commonly affect older cats.


There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is caused by insufficient production of insulin, and Type 2 is caused by the body’s inability to efficiently use the insulin it produces. Diabetes can occur in cats of any age but is most common in older, obese male cats. Symptoms include increased water consumption and urination, vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, poor overall appearance and loss of appetite. If you think your animal may be diabetic, consult a veterinarian.

Want to learn how to save on your senior cat's veterinary care? Click here
Want to check pricing and try our veterinary discount program, risk-free? Click here

Fatty Liver Disease - Hepatic Lipidosis

Fatty Liver Disease occurs when a cat suddenly stops eating or loses weight too fast. This may occur in older cats that are put on weight-loss diets or become anorexic for any number of reasons. Fatty Liver Disease may be seen in conjunction with diabetes. Symptoms include jaundice (yellow eyes and skin), vomiting, swollen abdomen, anorexia, rapid weight loss and lethargy. If you have concerns about your animal, consult a veterinarian. Hepatic Lipidosis can be deadly, but can be treated if caught early.

Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)

Renal Failure is very common in older cats. With CRF, the kidneys steadily lose their ability to filter and balance essential bodily fluids. CRF is a serious and possibly fatal disease. A simple blood test measures the function levels of your cat’s kidneys. Warning signs include difficulty urinating, excessive thirst and urination, loss of appetite, weight loss and vomiting. If you suspect CRF, consult a veterinarian.


Hyperthyroidism is also common in older cats and is caused by an enlarge thyroid gland. It can be diagnosed with a physical examination and blood work. Symptoms include weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, and increased appetite and activity. There are treatment options available, so if you have concerns about your animal, consult a veterinarian.

As you can see, these diseases have similar symptoms and can easily be confused for each other and other diseases. If you think your animal may have any of these diseases, CONSULT A VETERINARIAN. The earlier a condition is diagnosed, the better chances your cat has of a speedy recovery.


Seth Mayersohn, CVT

Welcome Veterinarians

Pet Assure is the largest veterinary network in the U.S. with over 5,600 veterinarians.

Pet Assure powers DVM Network, a brand built to support our participating veterinary professionals and help them grow their practice.

Visit to learn more.