Getting old can be a sign of illness | Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital

Getting old can be a sign of illness

Matt Young's picture
Sydney playing with Sarah

Our cat Sydney had been losing weight over the last 12 months. He was having difficulty moving around and was just generally stiff for some time. About 12 months ago we ran some bloods on him as I suspected that something was wrong but the tests were all normal.

2 weeks ago we reran the blood tests because his appetite had become ravenous. He's always been food obsessed but this was just ridiculous:

  • he was breaking into the bin all the time
  • He needed to be locked up when the kids were eating as he would steal food out of their hands
  • If he stole food & we tried to take it back off him he became aggressive
  • When we had him at work for the test we were talking about what to feed him and someone mentioned chicken. When he heard the word chicken he meowed asking for some.
  • he was really obsessed with food

Based on his ravenous appetite I suspected that either he had diabetes or hyperthyroidism. On his blood test his T4 (the hormone produced by the thyroid gland) was elevated which confirmed that he did have hyperthyroidism.

The thyroid gland controls the metabolic rate of everything in the body. Everything speeds up consuming more energy than is normal when the thyroid level is too high. Thus is a fairly common condition in old cats.

We've been giving him carbimazole (an antithyroid drug) for 2 weeks now and the difference in him is incredible. I knew that his appetite would decrease and he would put weight back on but I was quite surprised by how the age related issues resolved. There is no sign of arthritis at all now.

Sometimes when we treat hyperthyroidism it can unmask reduced kidney function. We always do an initial treatment with tablets or a specially made transdermal ointment because it is reversible if there are kidney issues.

We will recheck his T4 and his kidney enzymes this week. If all is going well with his kidneys we will be able to consider getting him radioactive iodine treatment in Sydney. I was initially thinking we would need to do this because Syd us so hard to give tablets to. Fortunately we've been able to hide the tablets in a piece of cheese or meat which he then eats OK. He has quickly become conditioned to the sound of the tablet bottle which brings him running and salivating like Pavlov's dog.

Older cats should have a regular blood test to test for common problems such as hyperthyroidism. Aging symptoms can be an indication of disease that we can manage to improve their quality of life.

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