The three most common causes -
Many elderly cats gradually lose
weight – often over such a long period of time that owners who see them
daily don’t notice the change. It is important to weigh senior pets
regularly and investigate any changes in weight.
Excess thirst is an early
warning sign of many age related diseases. As a guide all pets should drink
about 50mls fluid per kilo of bodyweight every day – 200mls or slightly less
than ½ a pint for the average cat. Any pet who drinks more than this should
be investigated. Warning signs are having to refill the water bowl a lot or
finding a cat drinking from unusual places like puddles or the toilet bowl
(yuk) You may also notice more wet patches than normal in the litter tray.
A 14 year old cat is equivalent to a
70 year old person – those who reach the grand old age of 20 yrs can expect
their telegram from the queen. All senior pets (those over 7 years of age)
should have regular 3 monthly free nurse check ups and see the vet every 6
months to help us pick up problems early.
common in older cats. <back to top>
Attention paid to changes in weight and thirst and
regular checkups help us to catch this disease in its early stages when new
treatments give us a good chance of slowing down any deterioration. High
thirst is an early sign and indicates that about 2/3 of the kidney is
damaged but cats are so efficient that they can compensate for failing
kidneys until ¾ of the kidney is not working. By the time they become really
poorly (thin, vomiting, smelly breath, poor appetite) the kidneys have
totally failed and it is often too late to do anything.
Kidney disease can be diagnosed and
quantified using an in-house blood test with results the same day.
“Fortekor” is a recent advance in
treatment of this disease. This drug has been used for many years to treat
heart problems but it is also beneficial in kidney disease. It reduces high
blood pressure and helps the kidney to get rid of toxins from the body
whilst preserving the remaining kidney tissue. It also appears to make a big
difference to how our patients feel – improving their demeanour and appetite
and allowing them to enjoy life again.
Anabolic injections like those
sometimes taken by athletes to help them bulk up are used to preserve body
muscle and slow down weight loss. This also helps to take the strain off the
kidneys, which have to deal with the by-products of muscle breakdown.
Nutrition is very important in
controlling kidney disease – a special low protein low phosphorous diet
makes life easy for kidneys and reverses some of the changes in other parts
of the body due to the disease.
Overactive thyroid glands are
also very common in elderly cats and can contribute to the “skinny thirsty
old cat” scenario.
The thyroid is a gland in the neck
that controls metabolism – it is commonly overactive due to a benign growth
that produces too much thyroid hormone. This makes everything go too fast –
heart rate, digestion and often flying teeth and claws! Owners may notice
that a cat loses weight despite being very hungry and thirsty, may sometimes
vomit or have diarrhoea, or may even seem to change character to become more
nervous or flighty.
If untreated an overactive thyroid
can cause serious complications because of high blood pressure and stress on
the heart, but it is easily treatable either with medication or a operation
to remove the gland.
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Diabetes is a
common disorder of middle aged to older cats (usually overweight cats).
occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough
insulin, the hormone which controls sugar levels in the blood. The excess sugar in the
blood is passed out by the kidneys into the urine. Where sugar goes water
follows. Diabetic cats pass a lot of urine and have to
drink a lot to keep up. Cats with diabetes can't use the sugar in the blood,
the tissues run out of energy and start to break down stores of
muscle and fat. Hence the loss in weight.
Left untreated diabetes can be
life-threatening but it can usually be controlled well by correct feeding
(Hill's r/d or m/d) and tiny injections of insulin daily, which most owners learn to
Diabetes can be spotted by a simple
urine test and confirmed by blood test.
We have advised routine urine tests
for our canine senior citizens for a long time to give us early clues that
serious diseases are developing. Until recently getting a urine sample from
a cat has been an altogether more difficult proposition! We now have
“Katkor” kits available consisting of some non-absorbent cat litter to put
in your litter tray, a syringe to collect a sample when the cat obligingly
uses the tray and a pot to transport the sample to the surgery. Much easier!
have any reason for concern about your skinny thirsty cat please contact the
surgery for an appointment and ask for a katkor kit so you can bring a
sample with you.
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