Sick Elderly Cat – Out Of My Mind!
Hi, one of my cats is ill and I don’t know what to do! My cat is about 12 years of age, he has started to loose an alarming amount of weight. He lost interest in grooming, so looked extremely messy and knotty, meows alot, even when fed and seemed to chew at the fur on his paws, which I have just noticed has left him with bald patches.
Our local vet is not very nice, so I don’t feel I can take him to them (before anyone judges me I love my cat), but I know he needs help.
Please tell what I can do for him.
Hi… thanks for visiting and asking. Although, I think you should “bite the bullet” and steel yourself to see your not so nice veterinarian.
Twelve years of age is on the old side for a domestic cat. Some vets would consider him old. My cat is 18 years old and shows signs of dementia.
Lets look at the symptoms:
–Lose of weight
–Meows a lot
–Over grooming (paws)
Provided there are no signs of ill health, meaning as far as you are aware he is not ill (and it seems from what you say that he is not ill), these are the signs of changes in older cats.
The over grooming of paws may be due to the onset of OCD, (obsessive compulsive disorder) due to being withdrawn. This may in part be because he may be getting a little less attention. It is easy to pay less attention to an older cat because they are less active. This sort of happened with my cat, Binnie. I now groom her twice daily in a very intimate and gentle way. I also encourage her to come to me on my bed and give her tons of TLC – tender loving care. This has a double benefit.
An older cat’s inability to groom parts of his coat due to stiffness is overcome through our grooming and the close contact eases an propensity to over groom parts he can get at through OCD behavior.
Loud meowing or more meowing is also a sign of old age in a cat and a bit of confusion; possibly linked to a bit of dementia – although I don’t consider 12 years of age that old.
The loss of weight could be due to a poor sense of smell leading to a reduced appetite. This can be overcome by providing better and more palatable food. His absolute favorite.
Caveat: There is an important caveat to all the above. Although the signs that you describe are of a cat that is elderly, weight loss is also a possible sign of illness. So that possibility should be checked before treating the problem as one that is simply about old age.
Drs Carlson and Giffin in the book I refer to say, “Weight loss is serious in the aging cat. Many cases are caused by kidney disease; others by cancers, periodontal disease and loss of smell.” Are your cat’s gums OK? Is he drooling? Is he urinating excessively?
That said, I have personal experience of my old lady cat losing weight like yours. In fact she showed similar signs (except for the OCD). She lost weight even though I provided high quality and favorite food.
The cure was to flea comb her and groom her twice daily. I think she was getting depressed by the presence of fleas as she was able to go out much more where I now live. This led to acquiring some fleas – not many but enough to irritate her although this did not show in her demeanor. I was also paying less attention to her because (a) I took on my mother’s cat, Charlie, when she died and (b)she was very inactive, I hardly noticed her when I was busy.
Anyway, plenty of flea combing, grooming, TLC and best food solved the weight loss.
That said each cat is different. I can only pass on personal experience and use the best references. I have used the Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook in this response – the best there is on the market.
The overriding element in your cat’s case is weight loss. This really must be dealt with carefully and seriously and the first port of call is to ask, “is this due to illness that requires a vet check or can I deal with it myself (as I have described)”. As the weigh loss is rapid this makes action more urgent and important.
Caution and certainty is the premise for action so I would say see that not so nice vet for a health check and if that is all clear treat him as an old cat needing extra TLC. Obviously, when grooming a knotted coat great care is required to not hurt or irritate the cat as that would be counterproductive in the extreme. Perhaps professional grooming initially might be a consideration.
This page may help to: Elderly Cat Health Problems
Hope this helps.