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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15168
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I have an older cat, 14yrs old female, in-door cat. She is a

Customer Question

I have an older cat, 14yrs old female, in-door cat. She is a constantly hungry, to the point of being annoying. She is losing weight and has a constant state of diarrhea. She has been de-wormed and we have tried fasting her for 24 hrs.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.

I am concerned that Sweetie is getting very thin even with a good appetite and has had constant diarrhea even though she was wormed.

Not all wormers treat all parasites, so it is possible that she has one that the wormer you used didn't cover. That said gastrointestinal parasites can cause loose stools but they rarely cause weight loss in an adult cat, so I don't think parasites even if they are present are the whole trouble.

When we see weight loss with an apparently normal or increased appetite and chronic diarrhea we need to worry about disease processes that either don't allow her to digest and/or absorb the food she is taking (such as diabetes, liver disease, primary intestinal or pancreatic disease including cancers) or those that lead to a higher metabolic rate such as hyperthyroidism or cancer.

In an older cat the more common diseases we see include hyperthyroidism (a tumor of the thyroid gland that overproduces thyroid hormones) or if she were drinking more and urinating a tremendous amount, diabetes. Sometimes early on with diabetes we only see weight loss and loose stools due to the increased amounts of sugar and abnormal bacteria in her intestinal tract.

Both diabetes and hyperthyroidism are treatable or at least manageable.

Hyperthyroidism is controlled with daily oral medication (Tapazole, also called methimazole) or a very special diet called y/d both of which must be done for the rest of her life or treatment with radioactive iodine to selectively kill tumor cells which is usually a one time therapy. There are pros and cons to each therapy which your veterinarian can discuss with you after getting a firm diagnosis.

Hyperthyroidism is not painful, but elevated thyroid hormones can make them feel edgy or nervous and thus cranky, very hungry, and can increase the heart rate and interfere with sleep, like drinking way too much coffee or energy drinks. Long term if left untreated it can lead to heart disease, hypertension, possible eye damage as well as kidney and liver damage. But if caught and treated many of these things can be reversed.

Diabetes is controlled with diet and insulin therapy.

Has she seen her veterinarian and had any testing done to achieve a diagnosis?

Ideally she should have a complete blood count and biochemistry profile with T-4 checked as well as a urinalysis. These tests often give us the information that we need.

If those aren't diagnostic then it is time to move on to more specialized testing. I recommend checking vitamin B levels to look for signs of intestinal disease, a test for pancreatic insufficiency called a TLI, and an abdominal ultrasound to look for signs of changes in the walls of the intestines as well as evaluating his organs. She may need an endoscopy to collect biopsies of her intestines if they look abnormal.

In the meantime you might try feeding her a higher calorie prescription food called Hills a/d or Iams Maximum Calorie from your veterinarian and make sure she has access to plenty of fresh, clean water.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.