help...older cat not eating much

learn_as_i_goSeptember 6, 2007

I have a cat that I adopted 7 years ago from the SPCA, and by his records he should be 17 now. Lately he's become far more vocal than he used to be and even tries to wake us in the morning (which he never did before). He seems to want food but then he won't eat much of what we feed him.

A few years ago we started feeding him Iams on the recommendation of a pet sitter and his stool became much firmer (and we were thankful). As a result, we could feed him almost all soft food w/o problem. For the past several months, he's been having problems w/ diarrhea. I took him to the vet who didn't find any biological cause for the problems, and she recommended we mix hard food w/ his soft food and switch to Nutro. We shifted to Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care for senior cats and mix the soft/hard together 2 times daily. Initially it was a hit- he ate, firmer stools, less crying. Now he's over it. Won't eat much and cries a lot.

Any advice? Is there a high quality food for senior cats that is yummy and easily available?


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I'd take him back to the vet for a full blood panel and dental exam. At his age, his kidneys could fail at any time. Renal failure is very common in old cats, and one of the primary symptoms is inappetance.

Since he's acting like he might actually want to eat but just can't, a dental exam is also in order to check for mouth lesions, tooth or gum infections, or other mouth and dental problems. Mouth ulcers are also common in cats with renal problems.

There's a reason why your boy won't eat, and I doubt it has much, or anything, to do with the food. A more thorough exam and diagnostics are necessary to determine the cause of his inappetance.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 8:07PM
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I agree with laurie. He needs an exam addition to the possible ailments she mentioned, it could also be stomach problems. It does sound like he's very uncomfortable..........

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 3:16PM
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I have to agree with the others. My old kitty was not eating and was losing weight despite seeming hungry all the time and begging for food. She was diagnosed with kidney disease (and 1.5 years later is doing well with management). The vet explained how they are hungry, but nauseas from the disease, so while they seem to want to eat, they can't stomach it. Aside from that, there are a number of other things it can be obviously.

Take him to the vet for a simple exam and blood panel and don't waste time wondering, worrying, and trying to coax him to eat--- that's the voice of experience; I thought my girl was having appetite/attitude issues due to a human baby entering the house and procrastinated for a short time because of that incorrect assumption.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 3:41PM
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Thanks, everyone. Perhaps I should try getting a 2nd opinion since we didn't get any helpful info at the first vet visit. I hadn't thought much about the effect of his teeth, either.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 8:15PM
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Unfortunately, there are vets out there who don't seem to want to waste time on elderly animals. I left one vet for exactly that reason. He clearly didn't see the point in treating my very old cat, and I didn't see the point in paying him to ignore her needs.

If the first vet didn't offer you proper diagnostics and care, find one who will.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 8:57PM
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I have a cat who is about 13 who had symptoms similar to what you describe. He has been diagnosed with inflamatory bowl disease. I have an 18 year old cat who suddenly became lethargic and quit eating - he was just diagnosed with chronic renal failure. Your situation sounds more like my IBD cat. He had stool problems, was vomitting and losing weight for at least a year before his problem was diagnosed in a blood profile. He even had the bloodwork done a year earlier but it didn't show up at that time. He's on prednisone now and doing quite well.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 11:54PM
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How long ago was the last trip to the vet? A lot can change in a couple of months, or even a couple of days, especially in older animals. Even if bloodwork was completely normal last time, keep in mind that you can lose 66% of kidney function before seeing any changes in the urinalysis, and you lose 75% of kidney function before you start seeing rise in BUN and/or creatinine. So your cat could have been close to renal failure last time bloodwork was done and there is no evidence on bloodwork.

Another thought, especially in an older cat, is cancer. Cancer does not show up on bloodwork, it has to be diagnosed by biopsy. IBD cannot be diagnosed on bloodwork either- it is a histological diagnosis. Anyway, there are lots of reasons that even a very sick animal can have completely normal bloodwork. It is not a reflection of bad veterinary care, just a need to do further diagnostics.

A trip to the vet is definately warranted. Not likely that the behavior you are describing (not eating, crying a lot) is strictly due to not liking the food.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 7:08PM
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I'm jumping in on this thread with a related question.

How can you tell if a cat is old? Dogs I can tell for the most part but cats - i don't know.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 9:12PM
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I know how old my cat is because I adopted him as a small kitten 17 years ago.

I was reading this because I'm having the same problem with my cat not eating, but I think I'll start another thread.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 12:57AM
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