My older cat seems more lethargic than usual. What might be causing this?

As cats age, many develop associated geriatric disorders, as people do. Often, these age-related issues can creep up so slowly that they go almost unnoticed, or are simply attributed to the inevitable passage of time. And while some geriatric conditions are indeed simply the natural order of things, there are a variety of ailments that can detract from a pet's quality of life but are treatable.

That's why we highly recommend exams twice a year and more intensive annual screenings for pets over 7 years old, so we know exactly what's going on with our furry friends. Lethargy could be a clinical sign of any number of conditions and diseases, including kidney disease, arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, liver disease, diabetes, electrolyte abnormalities, anemia, parasites, heartworm disease, asthma and quite a few others. Obviously, some of these are very serious, others less so. But modern medicine provides us with a wide range of medications and treatments that may help quite a bit.

If you see any changes in your pet's health or behavior, give your veterinarian a call. An observant owner is a very important partner in the process of giving our animal companions the best possible care and the longest and healthiest lives we can.

This week's expert is Dr. David Tayman of VCA Columbia Animal Hospital at Hickory Ridge. Send your questions to sun.unleashed@gmail.com.