Two new papers in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery offer some help. In an attempt to counteract what one paper calls a “paucity of research on feline aging,” (more like paw-city), veterinary researchers have pulled together a sort of primer on the subject, laying out in detail both the normal physical and cognitive changes that happen to cats over time and how to tell normal aging from signs of disease.
Dedicated cat enthusiasts can read through the papers in their entirety — there are charts galore, plus some verrry in-your-face photos of feline gum disease — but it’s also interesting to consider what these two studies represent: the groundwork, perhaps, for a subset of aging research focusing on the animals that stay with us through our own aging processes. By “fully understanding healthy aging, veterinarians and pet owners alike may be able to reduce risk factors for developing certain diseases in aging cats,” the researchers wrote — meaning more time, and better time, that people get to spend with their feline companions. Even if they are a little more raggedy, crankier, and have some weird gum stuff going on.