Question: For the past few weeks my 13 year old cat has been drinking more water. She is eating fine but she seems to be getting thinner. What could be wrong?
Answer: There are many illnesses that can cause these symptoms. Here are a few of the more common ones.
1. Diabetes mellitus: Diabetes causes cats to drink more (frequently a lot more!), urinate more and eat more, but they lose weight despite their great appetite.
2. Kidney disease: The first symptom of kidney disease in cats is often excessive thirst. At first the cat’s appetite may be fine, but eventually the appetite diminishes and they begin to lose weight.
3. Hyperactive thyroid: Many cats with an overactive thyroid lose weight even though they are usually eating more than ever, and some cats also drink more than than before.
4. Liver disease: Certain types of liver disease cause increased thirst and weight loss without changing a cat’s appetite.
All of these conditions can potentially be helped, so be sure to take your pet to your veterinarian. Routine laboratory testing can determine if these diseases are present, and your veterinarian can then discuss how to intervene and help your pet.
[doctor name = “Rita Angelo”]
The treatment options for a common malady
Q: I have an older calico cat and I recently brought her in to my veterinarian for her annual check up. She had lost 2 lbs from the year before and I didn’t even notice. My veterinarian did some blood tests and told me that she has . He said this is very common in older cats and that she needed to start taking pills to control it. I travel a lot and I’m not sure if I can give her the medication regularly. Are there any other options?
A: Your question is a great one. Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common diseases that we see in older cats. It is a condition that results from the excessive production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. Although a malignant growth is possible, more than 95% of cats have a benign growth causing the disease. Your cat is showing the most common sign seen with hyperthyroidism: weight loss. Other clinical signs include an increased appetite, hyperactivity, increased thirst/urination and intermittent vomiting and diarrhea. Although oral medication (methimazole) is a very common treatment, up to 20% of cats can have side effects and as you mentioned, reliable administration can also be problematic. Some cats will respond to topical forms of methimazole if oral methimazole is not an option.
The alternative to oral medication is radioactive iodine which is considered the gold standard of treatment. Radioactive iodine (I-131) enters the thyroid gland and destroys the abnormally functioning cells, thereby reducing the size of the gland and decreasing its ability to produce thyroid hormones. This treatment is extremely safe for your cat. Steps would need to be taken to ensure your cat is a good candidate for the treatment. There are precautions that need to be taken when handling radioactive medication, therefore, referral to a specialist is often necessary to have the treatment performed. Although hyperthyroidism can be controlled with medication or cured with radioactive iodine, lack of treatment can be fatal so I wouldn’t wait too long to decide what you want to do with your cat. Good luck!
[doctor name=”Laura Sartor”]