Cat won't eat...

cathymcaFebruary 18, 2009

My 13 year old cat has been diagnosed with hypo(?)thyroidism. She used to eat and drink beautifully until we noticed that she was losing weight. The vet did a blood test on her and found her problem. Prescribed thyroid medicine and after taking it for a week she won't eat at all. Per the vet's instructions we've stopped giving her the medicine however she's still not eating. I've reviewed the other messages of similar cases on this forum but eventually those cats started eating. Mine hasn't. I've tried everything: warm food, kitty milk mixed with baby food, tuna, roasted chicken, Avoderm from Petsmart which cats are supposed to love, now I'm feeding her through a syringe 3 times a day. She runs when she sees me. What can I do??? I want her to eat. She's so loving and sweet natured. She still grooms herself and plays. Please give me a miracle food to try!

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It is probably hyper-thyroidism (overactive thyroid)and your vet gave her meds to slow the thyroid down.

I once had a hyper-T cat that I had to force feed...although it was after treating her with the meds for a couple years. Is she keeping the food down that you are feeding her? Call your vet right away. Was it a full blood panel? Ask if her liver enzymes normal. Hopefully someone else will be able to give you better information.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 3:18PM
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I'm sorry to hear of your cat's illness. My oldest cat, Billy, is both hyperT and CRF (chronic renal failure). Two possibilities come to mind with your girl. First, a regrettable number of vets prescribe waaaay too high a starting dose of methimazole for hyperT patients, and that can cause serious side effects, one of which is severe nausea. What dose was your cat getting, and how long ago did you stop giving it? Most cats T4 levels rebound after stopping methimazole, but occasionally a cat will get into serious trouble and not recover from an overdose of the drug.

Second, hyperT sometimes masks underlying kidney failure. Once hyperT is successfully managed with methimazole and the T4 level returns to normal range, any pre-existing kidney issues will surface along with their accompanying symptoms, two of which are nausea and inappetance.

In any case, you should have repeat bloodwork run so that you can see what is happening with your cat's kidney, liver, and thyroid function. If your vet recommends restarting the methimazole, I strongly advise you to research proper dosing and request starting her at a low dose (no more than 1.25 mg twice daily), retesting after 3 weeks, and adjusting the dose slowly if necessary to reach euthyroid (normal thyroid level).

In the meantime, keep assist feeding your girl. It is critical to get food into her one way or another. The website linked below provides a lot of useful tips for convincing and helping inappetant cats to eat.

I wish you all the best,


Here is a link that might be useful: assist feeding cats

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 7:31PM
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If your cat is not eating, please tell the vet, because she will become dehydrated very fast (in days) and then feel worse, and really not want to eat.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 8:34PM
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I first want to thank everyone who has responded. It's so nice to know that people are out there. Patches was on Tapazole 5mg once per day. She was spitting up clear liquid and not eating so her doctor recommended stopping the medicine until she starts eating on her own again. It's been almost a week since she was taken off the medicine. She hasn't been spitting up anymore, she comes over to the bowl of food and appears interested when I bring it to her. She sniffs and walks away. Then I grab her and put her in a headlock to force feed her. No actually I smooch on her and try to make the feeding process as pleasant as I can. She doesn't like it, though. I just noticed on my vet's website as I'm typing that she prescribed Cyproheptadine 4mg tablets every 12 hrs to stimulate Patches' appetite on 2/12. I'd better pick them up today. Thanks again to everyone for your advice. I will keep you posted on my little girl.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 9:49AM
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Oh geez, Cathy, not only did your vet prescribe what I would consider to be too high a starting dose of methimazole (Tapazole), but she also prescribed WAAAAAAY too high a dose of Cypro!!! DO NOT GIVE YOUR CAT 4 MG OF CYPRO TWICE A DAY!!! The starndard dose of Cypro for appetite stimulation is 1-2 mg twice daily, and even at that standard dose, some cats will experience unpleasant side effects of CNS depression or excitement (including incessant howling and pacing and an inability to sleep), severe drying of mouth and eyes, high heart rate, urine retention, fever, and/or low blood pressure.

I give my Billy Cypro for appetite stimulation at a dose of 1/8 pill (.5 mg) once daily, and it works quite well for him. He experiences none of the nasty side effects at that low dosage, but it does help keep him eating. Just as with methimazole, it is a much wiser and safer strategy to start with a low dose of Cypro and increase gradually if necessary.

Another reason for starting with a low dose of Cypro is that it needs to be used with caution and at a reduced dose in renal patients. Since you apparently did not have a chance to repeat bloodwork while your girl was taking methimazole, you have no way of knowing the true state of her kidney function right now. As I said before, hyperT can mask kidney failure, so until you get the hyperT under control, her bloodwork may falsely indicate healthy kidney function where it doesn't actually exist. You need to be cautious with meds until you can accurately assess her kidney function.

Please, PLEASE do NOT give her 4 mg of cypro in a single dose.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 10:42AM
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It sounds like you need another vet to educate you on the natural progression of thyroid disease. Did your vet tell you that in the end it can become cancerous? Your poor cat sounds very ill and forcing her to eat is only making her miserable. Please find a vet who cares about your cat's quality of life.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 2:10AM
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My dear friends, I gave Patches the 4 mg of cypro before I read Laurie's note not to. She became restless and staggered around. Her little tongue hung out (she doesn't have many teeth anyway) for a little while at first but I stayed with her until she settled down. I didn't give her any medicine this morning. Then I read your message, thank goodness. I fed her warm Ham baby food (no onion or garlic)before I left for work and she seemed to like it a little, she even ate a couple of bites on her own. You're right, we haven't repeated the bloodwork because it was done two weeks ago (one week of tapazole, one week without). The vet said that everything was within normal range at the time except for the thyroid. I also didn't know that it could become cancerous. Thank you all so much for your concern and good advice.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 8:16AM
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I'm so sorry that Patches had that nasty reaction to the excessive dose of Cypro. Give her a day or two to purge it from her system, then try it again at a dose of 1/8 pill once daily and see if it helps get her eating. Cypro works to stimulate appetite in some cats within 15 mins (my Billy is one of them). In other cats, it can take up to 2 1/2 days for the appetite stimulant effect to occur. In some cats, cypro doesn't help stimulate appetite at all. You just have to try it for a while and see how it affects Patches at an appropriate dose.

The thing with hyperT is that it speeds up the entire metabolism (heart, kidneys, everything). Even if Patches' kidneys are not functioning fully, the effects of hyperT force them to work harder than they would otherwise. In bloodwork, that forced hyperactivity looks like normal kidney function. So even with renal failure, an uncontrolled hyperT cat's bloodwork may indicate normal kidney function. That's why you have to get Patches' thyroid level back to normal before you can assess the current true state of her kidneys. After you get her thyroid level back down to normal range, if her kidney values stay in normal range , then you can rest assured that her kidneys really are healthy. If, however, her kidney values rise when her thyroid level normalizes, that will indicate some degree of renal insufficiency.

When you start Patches back on methimazole, ask your vet about the transdermal gel. Methimazole can be formulated as a transdermal gel that is rubbed into the ear flap. Administration via this route bypasses the digestive tract and avoids problems with nausea that are common side effects of the oral form of the drug. But again, I strongly recommend that you request (insist) that the dose be started low and gradually increased only if proven necessary according to follow-up bloodwork performed at 2-3 week intervals anytime there is a change in dosage.

Cancerous thyroid tumors are uncommon. They occur in a very small percentage of cases, so don't lose sleep over that possibility.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 9:32AM
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It took me a while to find my original posting, but I wanted to get back to you to let you know how Patches is doing. We had her blood testing and her thyroid levels are still very high (I haven't given her any thyroid medicine since she completely lost her appetite.) She's back to eating again but she only weighs 6 lbs 15 oz. I requested that my vet prescribe the gel instead of the pill. So I'm waiting to receive "Methimazole QuickDose 2.5 mg/turn TDGPen, 70 turns" in the mail. I hope this works. Thanks so much for all of your advice and support. I will keep you posted as she hopefully improves.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 3:41PM
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