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Matthew Sisk: Cats chronic problems emerge in middle age
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It is the nature of my vocation that I am generally older than most of my co-workers. So to deal with the proverbial elephant in the room, I use humor. Any time a younger person complains of being sore from a workout or tired from work, I quip: “It’s rough getting old. Hope it never happens to me.”

But just between you and me, I may be getting old. If you heard my prepared rant against auto-tune, you might be inclined to agree. Still, if only chronologically, middle age is nigh.

Such is Leia’s station in life for her next visit. She is doing well at home, with no new adventures of which to speak. But she is now approximately 8 years old. For most cats, this is middle-age territory.

That means any hidden genetic time-bombs may be ticking more loudly or even going off. If her genes include a tendency toward kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, thyroid disease or even cardiac disease, this is the age range where those problems might emerge.

Lacking any signs of illness is a good first step, but cats are notorious for keeping minor ailments to themselves, allowing them to advance until they simply can’t be hidden. In those cases, the disease tends to be very advanced by the time of diagnosis. And like any problem, a disease is more easily addressed if it is confronted early.

Thus, Leia receives full senior blood work. Her blood cells and internal organ functions are checked. The results reflect her physical exam findings: All is well, save some dental disease. Some owners are strangely disappointed if their pet’s results are thus, but that’s a poor way of considering the data. We now know Leia’s baseline values and can compare them to measurements in the future to monitor organ function over time.

Now that she’s mature, I recommend Leia be examined twice yearly, as health changes may be more rapid with increasing age. We schedule a dental cleaning in two weeks, and it goes uneventfully as well.

But Leia ends up staying with us for a month.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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