Q: Our cat, Larry, is 21. And he’s in such good condition. Not sure what we’ve done right; how did he get to be this old? We’ve had cats live until their mid-teens but never this old. To what do we attribute his long life? —S. F., Orlando
A: Your Larry may have something in common with Larry King.
Odds are that Larry is an indoor-only cat. In any case, at his age, I hope you keep him inside only. He can’t be chased by wildlife or other cats inside, and won’t be hit by a car (and yes, cats are hit by cars).
Most cats who live that long have benefited from regular veterinary care. It truly does makes a difference. According to research learned at the Purina Companion Animal Summit, 2017, in Vancouver, BC Canada, even a slight amount of weight gain, and, similarly weight loss, are indicative of various potential medical problems.
Also, there’s a new simple blood test to detect kidney disease earlier, which might help even more cats make it past the age of 2o, as kidney disease is so common in cats. And, like most illnesses, it’s advantageous to catch it early. The test is called Symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA). The test is offered with the IDEXX regular blood chemistry panel.
My bet is that your cat has been fed a good diet, too. And that your cat isn’t overweight and certainly not obese.
And the good love you’ve likely provided Larry, well, that is priceless.
Still, at the end of the day, much of the credit likely goes to your cat’s good genes.