As cats get older, they often start to lose muscle and look thinner. This can be part of the normal ageing process and is very common. When an older cat’s weight loss is combined with other tell-tale signs, it can indicate a medical problem which requires Veterinary treatment.
An increase in thirst while losing weight is commonly a sign of either kidney or liver problems or diabetes.
Cats kidneys are hardworking organs throughout their life. The kidneys are prone to fatigue as cat’s age and weight loss, increased thirst and lack of appetite are often the result. The kidneys filter the blood less efficiently and the blood toxins, such as potassium, increase. The toxins make cats feel ill and suppress their appetite. The body recognises the increasing levels of toxins in the blood stream and drinks more in an attempt to dilute them.
Kidney disease can often be controlled effectively for years. We can use drugs which increase the blood flow through the kidneys to improve their filtering capacity. Drugs which absorb potassium from the diet can be used to lower the absorption from the food into the blood stream. Specialist diets can be used to decrease the demands on the kidneys.
While we may not be able to cure old cats kidney problems, if we catch the problem early in its course, we can often manage it effectively for many years.
Diabetes is an increasingly common problem in old cats and also produces an increase in thirst, decrease in appetite and weight loss. In cats, diabetes can often be managed through feeding a low carbohydrate diet, though some cats require insulin injections. Often diabetes can be managed quite straightforwardly.
Again, management of diabetes, just like kidney disease is often more successful if the condition is diagnosed and treatment is instigated early. If your older cat is losing weight and his appetite is suppressed, contact your vet immediately.
Next week I hope to talk about a common condition in older cats where the cat looses weight despite having a strong appetite.