Clinical Connections  –  Summer 2019

In 1992, the RVC’s Geriatric Cat Clinic (GCC) was established with the aim of researching the common conditions of older cats and to help with the care and medical management of the cats that attend the clinic. Since then, more than 4,000 cats have come to the research clinic.

A cat at the clinic

Eligible cats benefit from free wellness health checks, including a full clinical examination, blood pressure measurement and regular blood and urine tests to check renal and thyroid function.

Regular monitoring of the geriatric cats attending the clinic has provided new insights into feline chronic kidney disease (CKD) and related mineral and bone disorder (MBD), hyperthyroidism and hypertension, and supported the development of new diets, pharmaceutical products and diagnostic tests related to these conditions.

The clinic is now running a diet trial to investigate whether a specially formulated diet may be beneficial to cats in the very earliest stage of CKD and welcomes enquiries from anybody who would like their cat to be screened for participation.

Researchers from the group have also recently found that magnesium may be useful as a prognostic indicator in cats with CKD, as hypomagnesemia at diagnosis of azotaemic CKD was associated with a higher risk of death for these cats (Van Den Broek et al, 2018).

The RVC diagnostic labs now routinely include magnesium measurement as part of their renal and comprehensive feline biochemistry profiles. It is hoped that magnesium will be widely incorporated as part of feline biochemistry profiles offered by other commercial labs in future

Commenting on the value of the clinic for cats and veterinary science, Jonathan Elliott, Vice-Principal for Research and Innovation and Professor of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology, said: “Through longitudinal follow-up of cats with chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and hypertension, the GCC has greatly improved our understanding of these common problems of geriatric cats, informed the design of new diets, and stimulated the development of new drug products and diagnostic tests, publishing evidence of how these should be applied.

"Over the last 27 years, 13 veterinarians have been trained as clinical researchers, with a further five currently undertaking PhDs. Many cats have been provided with the best possible management (high quality diets and medications) that their owners could otherwise not have afforded.”

The clinic welcomes new clients both from cat owners who can enrol themselves and participants referred to us by primary care practitioners.

The Geriatric cat clinic is based at the RVC Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in Camden. It takes place on Wednesday mornings.

Clinic Inclusion Criteria

Any cat aged nine years or over who is generally healthy and meets any of the criteria below:

  • Has no medical problems
  • Has been diagnosed with CKD
  • Has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism but not yet receiving medication
  • Has been diagnosed with hypertension
  • May have one of the above conditions

The clinic is unable to see any cat who is currently receiving medication for hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus or steroid medication.

Reference: Van den Broek D H N (2018) ‘Prognostic importance of plasma total magnesium in a cohort of cats with azotemic chronic kidney disease.’ J Vet Intern Med 32: 1359-1371

Top of page