A review of ageing studies in captive felids

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Abstract

Improved husbandry and veterinary care is increasing longevity in captive felids. In turn, we are encountering novel diseases in geriatric animals. This article discusses some major age-related diseases, which are predominantly degenerative conditions, such as chronic renal failure and osteoarthritis. Other pathologies commonly seen include neurological, dental, cardiorespiratory and reproductive disorders. Regular health monitoring is vital to detect conditions at an early stage and to permit treatment. Preventative measures are examined, in particular husbandry alternatives that may reduce disease prevalence and/or advance animal welfare. The welfare costs (to the individual) versus potential benefits (to the population) of these old animals are considered. Examples of recent and on-going research into ageing felids are outlined, citing collaborations between different groups (such as the zoo community and universities) and international programmes. More work is needed to assess pathologies and welfare in ageing captive felids, and to inform policy on their care.

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