I'm sorry for the delay in response - it is now 8:30 here and I just logged on and saw your question. I would like to try to help you and your cat.
Can I get a bit more information about him?
In the last 6 months, has his appetite been increased, decreased or the same?
In the last 6 months, has his water consumption been increased, decreased or the same?
In the last 6 months, has his urine production been increased, decreased or the same?
Prior to this last 10 days, how often would he vomit?
What is the prescription food that he is on, and why is he on it (ie is it to treat a medical condition)?
Any changes in his voice in the last 6 months?
Any changes in his activity levels in the last 6 months prior to this last 10 days?
Thanks for your replies in advance! :-) Fiona
Thanks for that further information.
So, clearly, there is *something* going on with your cat to cause him to have lost weight recently and be vomiting so often. He is a senior citizen, and a bit of a puzzle since he is giving us so few clues. The things that I would consider would be chronic renal insufficiency (CRI, kidney failure), hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid gland), or a combination of the two, and unfortunately we also have to consider neoplasia (cancer). These are the most common problems that I see in senior cats.
With chronic renal insufficiency cats tend to drink more, lose weight and have a diminished appetite. Some have vomiting. Many have dry haircoats and hair loss.
With hyperthryoidism, however, they tend to drink more , lose weight and have an INCREASED appetite. Some have vomiting. Many have dry haircoats and hair loss.
With neoplasia, they may eat more or eat less, and lose weight.
As you can see, many of the symptoms overlap, and with your kitty I don't know which of these descriptions fits best. Both CRI and hyperthryoidism and some forms of cancer are treatable. Let me explain a bit more about each of them and the treatment options:
1. Chronic renal insufficiency. You probably know quite a bit about this already since you had 2 cats with this problem, but I will go over it in case you want a refresher. With this disorder, the kidneys have lost the ability to concentrate urine. So, the patient just produces dilute urine all the time, regardless of what is going on. For a cat with normal kidneys, if they don't drink for a while (say, because of feeling nauseated with a hairball), the kidneys just concentrate the urine and the cat keeps normally hydrated. Same as with a human who doesn't drink all night - the first morning urine is more concentrated because the kidneys are retaining all the water they can.
Now, if your cat's kidneys can't DO that, and just keep producing large quantities of dilute urine, he is going to start getting dehyrdrated. One of the first things that happens is that the body tries to draw water out of the feces and the cat gets constipated because the feces are now dry and hard, so it's harder to pass them. Also, as the patient becomes slighlty dehydrated, he tends to lose his appetite. Imagine yourself being really thirsty and someone offering you a steak. No matter how delicious you might think that is, you would be unable to eat much without having a drink first.
Kidney disease can be diagnosed by physical exam and analysis of a blood and urine sample. On a physical exam, I check the kidney size and shape. For treatment, the first step is a low-protein diet available through your vet clinic. The patient may also need supplemental potassium, and perhaps fluids given under the skin to correct any dehydration.
Here is more information:
2. Hyperthyroidism. This is a common disorder of older cats in which the thyroid gland in the neck starts to over-produce a hormone called T4. T4 controls metabolic rate. So, the more you have of it, the faster the metabolism. Cats that are hyperthryoid tend to eat voraciously, but lose weight because they burn the calories up so fast. Their heart rates increase, and the transit time through the intestines increases. So, they may develop diarrhea and vomiting, but not always.
Hyperthryoidism can be diagnosed by physical exam and blood and urine analysis. On a physical exam, I check for enlarged thryoid glands, and a rapid heart rate, and sometimes heart murmurs. Blood and urine tests allow a vet to confirm the diagnosis.
Hyperthryoidism responds really well to treatment. The treatment options are oral medication (usually twice daily, always for the rest of kitty's life), surgery, or radioactive iodine treatment (this last is the BEST treatment because it gives you a cure, but it is expensive).
3. Unfortunately, we also have to consider neoplasia (cancer) because your kitty is older and there has been rapid weight loss. Hyperthyroidism and CRI are FAR more common, however, so don't panic! To diagnose cancer, a vet would start with a complete physical exam to try to feel for internal masses, and would do bloodwork to rule out other problems. X-rays and biopsies might be needed.
If the tests for hyperthyroid disease and CRI were negative, and other blood tests were all normal, I would have to start considering cancer, unfortunately.
Some forms of cancer grow as a mass or lump and can be palpated in the belly or seen on x-rays. Some forms of cancer invade as tiny little cells all through-out an organ like the gastrointestinal tract. They are hard to detect because you can't palpate them, and you can't see them on an x-ray because they are scattered throughout the organ. In these cases, ultrasound and biopsy or exploratory surgery and biopsy can be used to make a diagnosis. Looking at a piece of the organ under a microscope is the only way to see if there are cancer cells there. Many types of cancer in cats respond really well to chemotherapy medication. There are even chemo protocols that consist of pills that the owner can give at home. Cats have minimal side effects from many chemo drugs - NOTHING like as severe as humans.
There are so many forms of cancer that it is hard for me to provide a link, but I'll give you one for a common type of cancer:
So, in summary, it sounds as though your cat may have hyperthyoidism CRI or possibly neoplasia. From what you have described, my best guess would be that CRI is most likely. A check up and blood tests with a housecall vet will help to make this diagnosis, and get him started on treatment to help him gain weight! I encourage you to call your housecall vet soon!
So, although I can't tell you what is wrong with your kitty, I hope I have given you some directions to explore with your vet.
So, in summary, your kitty's lack of appetite, weight loss and previous vomiting make me very concerned that he may be getting dehydrated. I suspect the vomiting is due to an underlying problem such as renal insufficiency or hyperthyroidism. He should see your vet for an exam and bloodwork so this can be diagnosed and treated.
Now, as to what you can do at home for your kitty...he definitely needs fluids. I know he is drinking, but I suspect it is not enough he is vomiting and losing fluids that way. . What you can do is try to get some calories into him in liquid form - that way he is getting nutrition at the same time as fluids.
I suggest opening a can of tuna *in water* and offering him the liquid.
Also, you can pick up Clam Juice in most grocery stores (sold in with the V8 or with the canned tuna in my grocery store) and mix that with some water.
You could try Lactose Free milk (Lactaid is the Canadian brand).
Offer him some canned cat food, and mix it with water to make a slurry if he won't eat it.
Things you can do to encourage a cat to drink are:
- offer water from a very wide flat bowl as cats don't like their whiskers to touch the edges when they drink (which is why lots of cats like the toilet bowl).
- If he likes dripping water, leave a tap dripping for him.
- Offer bottled water and see if he prefers it.
- Offer chicken broth, diluted 50:50.
- See if he likes water with an ice cube in it.
- See if he likes it out of a cup or martini glass.
- Offer Whiskas Kitty Milk
- Offer him canned food as the first ingredient in water
- You could try getting some human baby food in meat flavours (check that there are no onions or garlic in the ingredients) and mix that with warm water and offer that, or syringe it in little bits into your cat's mouth. Beech Nut makes a line of baby food that has nothing but meat (beef, chicken, turkey or veal) in it. Here's a link:
If you cannot find this, you could find another meat baby food - just read the label carefully to be sure there are no onions, onion powder, garlic, or garlic powder in it.
If this has been helpful, please Accept my answer and leave feedback. I will still be here to provide further information if you need it!
A housecall vet would certainly be able to do a physical exam, and take blood and urine samples. Also, a housecall vet would be able to give subcutaneous fluids if needed in order to rehydrate him.
If you kitty needed x-rays he would need to go in to the clinic, but the housecall vet might be able to give him a sedative at home so he didn't get so stressed out if that was needed!
Hope that helps! :-)