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Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18794
Experience:  15 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian
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My 18 year old female cat has started to meow while in the

Customer Question

my 18 year old female cat has started to meow while in the litter box. She has arthritis in her front shoulder and had her first UTI ever in late Thanksgiving. Could the meowing be related to either the arthritis or the urinary tract?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

Hi. Welcome to Just Answer. My name is***** and I've been a veterinarian for 15 years. Thank you for your question. Do you feel that she's in the litter box more? Is she straining to go while in there? Is she vocalizing at other times?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the good questions. I've only had her for 1 year. Her owner died and I adopted her. She'll be 18 in May. She's been very very healthy with the exception of the arthritis in the right shoulder and the UTI in Thanksgiving. She started to vocalize ALOT at night in the hallway and in her litter box. I moved the box to my bathroom and now I hear her every night with cooing and vocalizing lots more than ever. I'm concerned she's in pain. I can't afford another vet visit and UTI treatment and don't want to play GOD, but am thinking that if she's in pain it's time to put her to sleep. She pees pretty quickly and a good stream but she doesn't poop for 3-4 days and strains at that time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
when I'm home on weekends, she vocalizes so loud that it's alarming and I run to see what's wrong. She usually is just sitting on my bed staring out to space.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Her eyesight is poor and her hearing is poor. She's a sweet old cat, but I don't want her to suffer, nor do I want to play God if it's too soon to allow her the transition to the Rainbow Bridge.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I also know she will only get worse as she ages. Especially if she is going to start having UTIs or kidney problems.
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for giving this older girl a good home. If she's not visiting the litter box more often or having accidents, then it would seem less likely that this is due to a UTI. UTI's typically have straining to go, more frequent trips to the litter box, and small amounts getting out. If her eyesight is poor, then she may be doing this vocalization as she's not as visual. IF the litter box is covered, you may take the lid off to allow more light into it. Some as they become less visual and not hearing as well will definitely become more vocal. IF she's still eating well, drinking well and not vomiting or breathing hard, then it would seem that her overall quality of life still is decent. For arthritis issues, some may supplement glucosamine with their diet to try and improve arthritis situations. Dasaquin for cats is something easy to try to see if it helps.

Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

It is tough to know when that time has come to let them go, but in situations like this - I really look at eating, drinking and socialization. If she's again still eating well, drinking well, and having some socialization - then the time doesn't seem to be now.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can't tell you what a relief I feel from your response. She has never been a big eater (does not like wet food at all) and grazes throughout the night on her dry food. She eats about 1/3 cup every three days She drinks lots. She loves treats (I started about a month ago figuring she's at an age that I can spoil her). She loves to get brushed. Loves to sleep on my stomach at night. And still jumps on the bed even though I have steps that she can use. She's a great companion and I don't want to make "now" the "time", but I don't want her to suffer. And I just can't afford a vet's visit with meds. I like your theory of eyesight and hearing being related to the meowing. I have a night light in the bathroom, but will get something stronger in there with more light for her at night. And she has an open litter box. I did try the Pet Supermarket glucosamine medicine pills that she can eat, but after a few days she lost interest in the taste.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She throws up a lot (especially when I've just changed the bedspread!), but no more than usual and most times it's hairball related. She doesn't seem to have any breathing issues at all.
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

With cats, they can definitely be fickle as far as what they like and what they'll eat with their food. It sounds like she's been lucky to have you as well as you are lucky to have her. These older girls can be great companions. They don't ask for much but love, attention, and food. As far as the vomiting of the hair balls, you can try to brush her more to help reduce the amount of fur consumed while grooming.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I brush her twice a day and she loves it. Until she doesn't. Brushing her is on her terms. Smiling here.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for being there for me to vent and inquire. Her owner died last Thanksgiving and while in a doctor's office waiting room, I was talking to a man about animal rescue (I have always rescued beagles). he asked if I knew anyone who was involved with cat rescue because his mom had just died of cancer and she had a healthy older cat. I went to his mom's house to meet the cat and fell in love with her and took her home with me. I'm still in touch with the man and he is so happy to know that his mom's cat is so loved. She's a seal point Himalayan and a true doll-baby. I'm blessed.
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

I know exactly what you mean!!! I have a 19 year old cat at my house that lets me know when brushing is good and exactly when brushing isn't so good! Thank you for being there to help her out. You have no idea how much I appreciate people like you who open up their homes / lives / hearts to a pet that otherwise has so few of chances. Thank you!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
one last question.... since the crying and meowing happen at night, is this just a carry over of the nocturnal nature of cats? She sleeps all day long (she waits for me to get out of bed so she can have my pillow to sleep on!).
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

It could be a part of her nocturnal nature. If she's sleeping that much during the day, then she's more apt to be up and around at night. If you could stimulate her more during the day, she may be more likely to sleep more at night. One of the best things that I've found for this is something pretty simple. A bird feeder in front of an easily accessible window. When the birds come to feed, it is like a great TV show and they can't help but sit there and dream about catching one of them. By being stimulated during this time, she'll be more ready to rest at night.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Interesting about stimulation by day. She does like to sit out on my screened porch when i'm home, but that turns into a lonnng cat nap. :) Thank you for acknowledging my big heart for this sweet cat (I adopted senior beagles too but that got too costly and was no longer to help the Beagle rescue). I'm a part time pet sitter and just love that 90% of my pet clients have adopted their animals. Such wonderful blessings both ways, for the human and the animal.
Sending you white loving light and appreciative hugs. - Wendy
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
one more question?
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

I'm glad to help here Wendy! Give her a good ear scratching for me when you see her next. Fire away on the question.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
if it turns out that she is back and forth - in and out of the litter box BUT still eating, drinking, etc., you would suggest taking her to a vet for exam and possible UTI ? What I'm asking is, since she seems so healthy, it's worth treating a UTI again, right? Mixed feelings here.
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

If she has a UTI, it would be something that I'd feel has a good chance of responding well to treatment. If you notice her being in there more frequently or straining or having accidents - then it would seem very reasonable that she has a UTI and could respond well to treatment.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay Sounds great. I have a question for you... A personal question about your feelings toward deaf/blind animals. Do you think being a blind cat with little to no hearing is quality life?
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

I absolutely believe that a blind cat with minimal hearing to being deaf can have a great quality of life. They can seek out petting and be so content to be in the company of an owner and be petted.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you! Let's hope that's my next challenge with "Storm" (her name) and that she continues on a healthy journey of more life. I work full time but go home at lunch time to see her and to let dogs out back (if I'm pet sitting any doggies in my house) and I love to see her and give her a pet. Will tell her you helped me today. She'll lift up her head, give me a disturbed meowed, and put her head back down to sleep. Thanks Bruce. You're good at what you do and I appreciate you being on the other end of the keyboard! - Wendy in Central Florida
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

Take care again Wendy. I hope that there are lots of good days with this special girl. Thanks again for all you're doing for her!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Enjoy your older kitty too!Hugs and belly-rubs and signing off for now....Wendy in sunny and chilly Central Florida Smiling here.
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

She's sitting in the sun right now and enjoying a nice day. Hopefully it warms up soon for everyone!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've enjoyed connecting with you. I've had better luck with you than I've had with Match.com. hee-heesigning off.Wendy
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the compliment! Life is full of adventures. enjoy all that you get the chance to be a part of. There are lots of people out there and your special one will be there.