Felix Life Stages and Veterinary Medical Care

When it comes to determining your cat’s veterinary medical care needs, your veterinarian will base these needs on your cat’s current life stage. Some feline diseases and health risks can affect some specific life stages more than others. Find out which life stage your feline friend is at, and learn about some of the health issues that you and your veterinarian should be addressing.

Feline life stages and veterinary health care

Kitten Stage

If your kitty baby is six months of age or less, then you are basking the playful joys of a kitten. A cat grows and matures rapidly during the kitten stage. The first month of a kitten’s life is equivalent to the first year of a human life. The next two months can be compared to the toddler and preschool years of a human child. At four and five months, a kitten’s development roughly parallels that of a six to eight year old child. By six months of age, your kitten has caught up to a child of ten. During the kitten stage, the following veterinary medical care needs should be met:

Your kitten should be eating a premium quality kitten food. Such a diet is specifically formulated to meet the nutritional metabolic and development needs of an active and growing kitten.

Junior Stage

Think of the junior stage of your cat as the teenage and college years of its human counterparts. The junior stage covers the ages of seven months to two years. As your kitten enters this phase of life, wean its diet from a kitten food to an adult food. During the junior stage, you will need to keep up with the following veterinary care:

  • Booster the kitten vaccines at the one-year mark from the date that the series was completed.
  • Follow up with subsequent vaccination protocols as recommended by your veterinarian. Some vaccines remain effective for three years, and others must be updated annually for optimal immunity.
  • Your cat should receive an annual wellness examination. Consider pet insurance for your feline friend. Is Pet Insurance Worth it?
  • A fecal analysis should be performed at the frequency that your veterinarian recommends.
  • Continue administering preventative products to your cat. Even indoor cats are at risk for fleas, heartworm disease and intestinal parasites.
  • Perform a home dental care routine on your cat at least three times a week.

Prime Stage

This portion of adulthood spans the ages of three through six years. This mirrors the years at which a human adult is considered at the prime of his or her life, which typically commences during a human’s late twenties and continues throughout the thirties. At this age group, your grown up cat still exhibits youthful behavior, engaging in occasional play and crazy romps through your home. Keep these health care practices in mind for your prime kitty:

  • Continue with recommended vaccination protocols, fecal analyses, preventative products and annual wellness examinations.
  • Continue with a home dental care routine. Your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning procedure if he or she finds evidence of gingivitis or periodontal disease.
  • Monitor your cat’s physique, and be sure to feed the proper amount for maintaining a healthy weight. This is the stage when cats tend to pack on the excess pounds.
  • Keep your cat active by stimulating it with interactive play.
  • During the prime stage, your veterinarian may recommend performing a routine complete blood count, blood chemistry profile and urinalysis on your cat. The purpose of this testing is to provide your cat’s normal baseline values. These values can then be compared to future test results, enabling your veterinarian to catch subtle changes early so that health problems can be addressed before they advance.

Mature Stage

The mature stage covers cats within the seven through ten-year age group. This stage is similar to what humans refer to as middle age, which ranges from the mid-forties through the late fifties. There was a time when veterinarians considered cats seniors at seven. Today, as more cats are kept indoors, receiving advanced veterinary care, eating premium quality foods and living longer, the senior years have been pushed off until 11 years. During the mature stage, your cat will derive more pleasure in napping on a favorite sunlit windowsill than in dashing through the house. Keep up with the following care in order to keep up your mature cat’s quality of life:

  • Continue with recommended vaccination protocols, fecal analyses, preventative products and wellness examinations.
  • Continue with a home dental care routine. Your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning procedure if he or she finds evidence of gingivitis or periodontal disease.
  • Continue to monitor your cat’s weight, and feed appropriate amounts to prevent obesity.
  • Continue to keep your cat’s joints moving by engaging with interactive play.
  • Watch for any subtle changes in behavior and routine activities, and report any observed changes to your veterinarian.
  • When petting your cat, feel the body over for any new lumps or bumps, and bring any such findings to your veterinarian’s attention at once.
  • Your veterinarian may begin to perform complete blood counts, blood chemistry profiles, urinalyses and thyroid hormone profiles annually during this stage.

Senior Stage

From 11 through 14 years, your cat is considered a senior. During this time, the development of degenerative joint disease, or arthritis, is common in cats. In addition to the aforementioned veterinary medical care needs of the mature stage, you need to consider the following:

  • Your veterinarian may recommend bumping up your cat’s wellness examinations from once a year to every six months. During the senior years, a cat is at increased risk for such illnesses as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes and cancer. Examining your cat more frequently increases the chance of early detection and effective treatment.
  • As your cat’s mobility decreases, you need to make sure that your cat has easy access to litter boxes from anywhere in the home. This means opting for boxes with lower sides and locating them in multiple locations in your home.

Geriatric Stage

Once your kitty turns 15 years of age, you are the owner of a geriatric cat for its remaining years. A cat of 15 is the equivalent of a 76 year-old human being. By the time a cat reaches 21 years of age, this is the same achievement as when a human celebrates his or her 100th birthday. Many cats are now living well into the twenties. To help your cat maintain its dignity and quality of life while extending its lifespan, continue with all of the veterinary care and home care practices that are mentioned above for mature and senior cats. Keep these additional things in mind as well when caring for your geriatric cat:

  • If your cat develops any of the common senior feline diseases, your veterinarian will make the appropriate treatment recommendations to preserve your cat’s quality of life for as long as possible.
  • Your geriatric cat should not be allowed outdoors. Decreased vision, hearing and mobility can render the cat defenseless against outdoor perils.
  • Your geriatric cat will likely have trouble grooming itself. Gently brush the cat to prevent matted hair, and clean any soiled areas of the coat.
  • Ask your veterinarian for an appropriate dietary recommendation for your geriatric cat.
  • As your cat’s kidney function declines, your cat will crave more water. Be sure to monitor the water bowls, and keep them filled and located where your cat can easily access them.
  • Remember that although your geriatric cat may appear unkempt and snooze most of the time, it still desires the security of love. Continue to lavish praise and affection on your cat. By this time, the two of you have been through a lot together. Do not ignore the fact that the cat needs your acceptance and compassion now more than ever.

Throughout every stage of your cat’s life, bring your cat to your veterinarian as soon as possible whenever you observe any signs of potential illness, including changes in appetite, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, nasal discharge, ocular discharge, diarrhea, constipation, changes in urination habits, changes in water intake, limping and new lumps or bumps. Find out about cat insurance here, and request your free quote no matter your cat’s current life stage.

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