patent123
I lost my dog in September which led me to this forum. Since losing my dog my senior cat that I adopted 4 years ago seems very off. I've never had a cat before so I really have no clue what signs are bad signs. He has lost most of his appetite since my dog left. He has no teeth so he gets soft food. He hardly eats half a can a day now. So he has gone from a healthy 10lbs to skin and bones. I can feel his entire spine and hips. I took him to the vet but they seemed to think he was just getting old but was otherwise healthy. Today though my dog found cat pee/poo in my closet. My cat has never gone outside the box he's always been very clean in that area. I'm wondering if any other cat people experienced this? Was it considered normal or is it a potential sigh of illness? I plan to take my guy o the vet but I want to be prepared to ask the right questions or request tests incase I'm told he's just getting old again. I've already lost one friend I don't want to lose another because of lack of cat health experience.
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Graceful
patent123 wrote:
I lost my dog in September which led me to this forum. Since losing my dog my senior cat that I adopted 4 years ago seems very off. I've never had a cat before so I really have no clue what signs are bad signs. He has lost most of his appetite since my dog left. He has no teeth so he gets soft food. He hardly eats half a can a day now. So he has gone from a healthy 10lbs to skin and bones. I can feel his entire spine and hips. I took him to the vet but they seemed to think he was just getting old but was otherwise healthy. Today though my dog found cat pee/poo in my closet. My cat has never gone outside the box he's always been very clean in that area. I'm wondering if any other cat people experienced this? Was it considered normal or is it a potential sigh of illness? I plan to take my guy o the vet but I want to be prepared to ask the right questions or request tests incase I'm told he's just getting old again. I've already lost one friend I don't want to lose another because of lack of cat health experience.


Hello, Patent.

First, I am very sorry to see that your dog died in September.   I am sure you are still grieving over that loss, and I can understand your need to be as informed as possible to tend to your cat's health issues now, especially since you want to do right by him.

I am not an expert, but I have learned from experience, having pets all my life, because cats, dogs, or any living being, as they age, become frail, and their organs become weaker and unable to process as strongly as they did when that being was younger.   

With all due respect to the vet that said your cat was "just getting old" and was "otherwise healthy" -- that is not a correct assumption, nor description of what your cat's body is experiencing.   As I said above, an older animal, and in the case of a cat, who is eating and losing weight, is displaying a sign that their organs are not processing the nutrition from their food intake, and therefore, "borrowing" fat from parts of the body where a normal cat stores fat to be healthy.   This will usually mean there is something "off" or weakening with the pancreas or a metabolic imbalance of some sort, but it can by no means be classified as "otherwise healthy" -- it is not normal to eat and lose weight until you are skin and bones.   Older animals are not unlike humans:  their bodies age on the inside, which is very deceptive because they still are like children to us, and the aging process can be very subtle, and it will seem that it's "sudden" but the truth is, the deterioration is very slow, it just doesn't show up until the animal shows signs of distress, which can be well into the process.

It is also very common for animals to develop neuropathy in their hindquarters, this is especially true when there is insulin imbalance, and again, a problem with the pancreas.   This is the saddest thing to see b/c it does mean that a cat cannot get into his/her litter box, and has to go outside of it with no choice.   My kitty did that similar thing, and it was heartbreaking.   This had never happened, either, no matter what health issues he'd had in the past, but when their hindquarters are that weak, this is something they cannot overcome.

When a human gets old, they may never actually be "sick" if you know what I mean, they die of old age because their body can no longer function because their organs weaken.  Many people, in fact, get colds that turn into pneumonia because of a weakened immune system, which is why it is very common to see the cause of death is "pneumonia" but the reality is, they caught pneumonia due to old age.

When an animal stops eating at an advanced age, you need to have him/her checked out --- but even if the vet says, "nothing is wrong" that does not mean the animal is in good health.  It just means that you are witnessing signs of old age, that may leave you in the difficult position of keeping a careful watch, and knowing when / if a decision must be made, for the sake of the animal.    If his organs are shutting down slowly, he is losing weight, cannot use his legs to be mobile, cannot use the litterbox, and is not exhibiting the behavior that used to characterize him as being happy or interested in life, or spending time near you, then I encourage you to do some reading on "how do I know when ..." and using your heart, soul, and all the strength you have so that you will have as much clarity as possible to make a decision when the time is right.

I have not had the presence of mind to create a thread for my beloved kitty that died a few days ago, but will do so soon.  He had cancer, but all the signs and many of the symptoms are the same (lack of appetite, weakness, weight loss), so I do understand, all too well, the distress involved.    Sorry for the wall of text, but I hope there are some words here that make sense and that help you.  
Take care, Patent, and please know that you are not alone.    
Grace xo

"Now that the time has come
 Soon gone is the day,
 There upon some distant shore
 You will hear me say,
 Long as the day in the summer time
 Deep as the wine-dark sea,
 I'll keep your heart with mine
 Till you come to me"  (LM)

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spiritdog
If possible try another vet. A lot of vets are not as knowledgeable as we hoped. Trust your gut/instincts not them.

Blood work is in order for sure.

Renal failure? Diabetes? Who knows but many things are possible so blood work for a senior (?) cat is necessary for a true look at what the problem could be. A full blood panel.

You are listening to your gut, you know that vets answer was not acceptable, keep fighting for your cat and find a better vet.
"People disappoint, dogs never do" - spiritdog

"You MUST be your pets ADVOCATE, if it doesn't feel right walk away." - spiritdog
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patent123
Thank you both...I am very torn between the old age, a possible one time accident, and a medical problem. My cat who normally enjoyed the quiet basement seems to be spending more time on my bed upstairs. He goes to his food bowl but his appetite is nowhere near what it once was. He's always been tiny I had to work hard to get him from his original 5lbs to his 10lbs but now he starting to loose weight. I have even tried high end high calorie foods which grab his attention for a week but then he looses interest. I agree though blood work for any organ failur would be the best start. The not using his box is the most alarming to me because I have never had this issue before even during stressful moves and fostering other animals he's always been good about that....so that is worrying that something could really be wrong . Thanks again I appreciate the advice
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Graceful
patent123 wrote:
Thank you both...I am very torn between the old age, a possible one time accident, and a medical problem. My cat who normally enjoyed the quiet basement seems to be spending more time on my bed upstairs. He goes to his food bowl but his appetite is nowhere near what it once was. He's always been tiny I had to work hard to get him from his original 5lbs to his 10lbs but now he starting to loose weight. I have even tried high end high calorie foods which grab his attention for a week but then he looses interest. I agree though blood work for any organ failur would be the best start. The not using his box is the most alarming to me because I have never had this issue before even during stressful moves and fostering other animals he's always been good about that....so that is worrying that something could really be wrong . Thanks again I appreciate the advice


He has medical problems either from his organs weakening from age, or from his organs weakening due to a tumor, or other malady.   Blood tests are not enough, IMO.   Blood tests do not tell the entire story, and are limited.   If you have not had one, you need to get an ultrasound, that is the only way you will know for certain if he has a tumor, lymphoma, etc.   The vet has to be able to look at his cell tissue to know what's going on.  

At this point, any food you can interest him in, is fine, and any vet will tell you that.   I fed my cat, and have fed cats in the past, baby food (turkey or chicken, in our case, but you can get beef).   He loved it, as you said, for a while, but it was hit or miss when he would eat.   If you have to, and if you have done so before, you can also syringe feed him to get food into his little system.  

The development of neuropathy is what may be keeping him from the litter box, and that is certainly a cause for concern.    I have had cats go through all sorts of changes, and as you said, still use the litter box without fail.    You will only know what you witness yourself, if he uses the box or not, and where he is going if not.   All you can do is keep an eye on him.  

They are tiny animals no matter how you look at it, so when there is weight loss, there is a cause for concern.    Concern may lead you to go to another vet and get another opinion, but what the other vet said was misleading; you know what you are seeing, and you know your cat.  

He goes to his food bowl because he really wants to eat, but when he gets there, his lack of appetite causes him to lose interest.   It is no different from a human, it really isn't.   

Please see another vet ASAP.   Get an ultrasound.   If his organs are shutting down, all you can do is try to keep him comfortable, love him, and keep him going for as long as you feel his quality of life still exists in some way.     If there is a way to slow down what is causing the health problems, only the vet can advise you.   Best wishes, I hope you can see another vet soon, and get some answers; this may mean you will wait until Monday. 
In the meantime, keep a close watch, as I am sure you are, and take care.

"Now that the time has come
 Soon gone is the day,
 There upon some distant shore
 You will hear me say,
 Long as the day in the summer time
 Deep as the wine-dark sea,
 I'll keep your heart with mine
 Till you come to me"  (LM)

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patent123
Graceful wrote:
Thank you both...I am very torn between the old age, a possible one time accident, and a medical problem. My cat who normally enjoyed the quiet basement seems to be spending more time on my bed upstairs. He goes to his food bowl but his appetite is nowhere near what it once was. He's always been tiny I had to work hard to get him from his original 5lbs to his 10lbs but now he starting to loose weight. I have even tried high end high calorie foods which grab his attention for a week but then he looses interest. I agree though blood work for any organ failur would be the best start. The not using his box is the most alarming to me because I have never had this issue before even during stressful moves and fostering other animals he's always been good about that....so that is worrying that something could really be wrong . Thanks again I appreciate the advice


He has medical problems either from his organs weakening from age, or from his organs weakening due to a tumor, or other malady.   Blood tests are not enough, IMO.   Blood tests do not tell the entire story, and are limited.   If you have not had one, you need to get an ultrasound, that is the only way you will know for certain if he has a tumor, lymphoma, etc.   The vet has to be able to look at his cell tissue to know what's going on.  

At this point, any food you can interest him in, is fine, and any vet will tell you that.   I fed my cat, and have fed cats in the past, baby food (turkey or chicken, in our case, but you can get beef).   He loved it, as you said, for a while, but it was hit or miss when he would eat.   If you have to, and if you have done so before, you can also syringe feed him to get food into his little system.  

The development of neuropathy is what may be keeping him from the litter box, and that is certainly a cause for concern.    I have had cats go through all sorts of changes, and as you said, still use the litter box without fail.    You will only know what you witness yourself, if he uses the box or not, and where he is going if not.   All you can do is keep an eye on him.  

They are tiny animals no matter how you look at it, so when there is weight loss, there is a cause for concern.    Concern may lead you to go to another vet and get another opinion, but what the other vet said was misleading; you know what you are seeing, and you know your cat.  

He goes to his food bowl because he really wants to eat, but when he gets there, his lack of appetite causes him to lose interest.   It is no different from a human, it really isn't.   

Please see another vet ASAP.   Get an ultrasound.   If his organs are shutting down, all you can do is try to keep him comfortable, love him, and keep him going for as long as you feel his quality of life still exists in some way.     If there is a way to slow down what is causing the health problems, only the vet can advise you.   Best wishes, I hope you can see another vet soon, and get some answers; this may mean you will wait until Monday. 
In the meantime, keep a close watch, as I am sure you are, and take care.[/QUOTE

Thank you it's good to know about ultra sounds as an additional route to check on things. He has developed a small mass on his back leg about a year ago feels like fluid or fat. My cat was to old to be put under to have it opened an looked into so he gets it check periodically for changes/growths. So far it appears to have stayed the same. He had to have a dental when I first got him and that was hard enough on him so I opted not to risk a potential life threatening surgery on a biopsy. Up until recently he was happy with no concerns other then a lump. It's good to get some first hand advice from other people who have been through similar situations rather then looking to google. I am glad to know some options so I can ask to have certain things done and different areas explored. I do trust myvet he's taken great care of my old man and was key in me bringing him home. I was warned he was old and in bad shape when I first adopted him I was told not to expect a long term cat but that was 4 almost 5 years ago. So I will for sure ask about everything you have suggested an make sure these areas looked into and of all else fails there are many other respectable vets in my area.
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shantismom
You have already gotten good advice but I will tell you from my 40 something years of cats that when a cat loses it's appetite that is a sure sign something is wrong.  Going outside the litter box is another sign.  My cat had many health issues but it wasn't until he had pancreatic cancer that he went outside his box and lost his appetite.  That doesn't mean your cat has cancer but something is wrong.
Your cat also probably has some grief from losing it's companion.  I had a cat who really went through grief when the other cat we had died but he still ate and used his littler box.
Find a vet who will listen to you.
Marlene Wagner
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Mistysmama
I absolutely agree with spiritdog. "Just getting old" isn't good enough. You know he is getting old. What you need to know is if there is anything clinically wrong with him. And only a full blood-panel might give up some clues.
NO VET can say "he is otherwise healthy" without having done the blood-work. Guess-work is not the same!
Hold the love like a little light. It is all you have, or will ever have, to find your way home.

Misty's Blog..a Dogfight with Cancer http://www.mistysblog69.blogspot.co.uk

Misty's life after death: http://www.dog2spirit.com
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patent123
The rest of the weekend went more smoothly.  I ventured out for some different food and he managed to eat half a can in one sitting.  No more litter accidents that I am aware of but I have caught him roaming the basement talking very loudly as if he is lost.  Once he sees me he lets out a big meow and walks over to me and just sits and watches me.  He is deaf so maybe this odd behavior is a side effect of that.  Everyone is right though things need to be looked at more closely.  I am also starting to monitor his water intake and litter(more closely).  He normally shared water from a bowl with our dog but I have since moved one behind his gate for him.  As of now he doesn't appear to be drinking excessively. He continues to snuggle under the covers at night and once morning comes he relocates to his bed in the basement.  If he had it his way he would be carried around the entire day...hes become much more needy lately.  Hes always been a snuggler but not to this extreme.  Thank you everyone for the advice...I need a lot of the input because I am clueless.  I may have had him for a few years now but he is my first cat and hes never had any serious issues that I could learn from.  Heres to hoping these are just minor bumps in the road and nothing to concerning.
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spiritdog
Glad to hear things are ok. My cat Onny started talking loudly upstairs like she was lost, and I'd call out to her and then she settled. I have been told older cats do start doing this, loud meows in different rooms than where you are. I still recommend you get the blood work done asap. An elderly cat can go down hill quickly.

I am glad you are monitoring the water intake, good for you.

Onny passed at 17, she was a wonderful independent tough yet tiny gal.
"People disappoint, dogs never do" - spiritdog

"You MUST be your pets ADVOCATE, if it doesn't feel right walk away." - spiritdog
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patent123
Yes we will be doing a vet check up waiting for our appointment to go in.  I wish I knew how old my cat was so I had a better idea of his age and how it could potentially relate to any conditions or behaviors.  When I got him he looked ancient he was in horrible shape though.  The vet that works for our Humane Society took a guess that he was in his late teens.  After getting some dental work done, fluids, and feedings in he perked up and gained 5lbs his estimated age now is 10-14 years.  Of course that's just a guess and cats can get sick at any age...His eyes do seem clear though not cloudy like older animals get.  We are doing our best to accommodate him for the time being while we wait to see the vet.  Since he prefers to sleep in boxes (when its not "bedtime") we have placed easy to get into boxes around the house with bedding.  I'm also looking into lower litter boxes or altering one to make getting in and out easier for him.  He appears to walk and jump fine but there could always be some hidden pain that he isn't showing. I've started to do some research on how to care for senior cats and make their life a little easier.  Hopefully this along side his check up we can figure something out and see some improvement.

As for my cat I've known for some time now he had lost his hearing...I've gotten use to stomping as I enter the house know he can usually feel the thuds and knows we are home.  Otherwise I usually pat whatever he is on to wake him up so I don't startle him by just touching him.  I can usually find him by his food dish once he realizes I am home.  Hes always waiting for food which is odd considering he hardly eats.  Did your Onny ever act this way? 
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Graceful
patent123 wrote:
Yes we will be doing a vet check up waiting for our appointment to go in.  I wish I knew how old my cat was so I had a better idea of his age and how it could potentially relate to any conditions or behaviors.  When I got him he looked ancient he was in horrible shape though.  The vet that works for our Humane Society took a guess that he was in his late teens.  After getting some dental work done, fluids, and feedings in he perked up and gained 5lbs his estimated age now is 10-14 years.  Of course that's just a guess and cats can get sick at any age...His eyes do seem clear though not cloudy like older animals get.  We are doing our best to accommodate him for the time being while we wait to see the vet.  Since he prefers to sleep in boxes (when its not "bedtime") we have placed easy to get into boxes around the house with bedding.  I'm also looking into lower litter boxes or altering one to make getting in and out easier for him.  He appears to walk and jump fine but there could always be some hidden pain that he isn't showing. I've started to do some research on how to care for senior cats and make their life a little easier.  Hopefully this along side his check up we can figure something out and see some improvement.

As for my cat I've known for some time now he had lost his hearing...I've gotten use to stomping as I enter the house know he can usually feel the thuds and knows we are home.  Otherwise I usually pat whatever he is on to wake him up so I don't startle him by just touching him.  I can usually find him by his food dish once he realizes I am home.  Hes always waiting for food which is odd considering he hardly eats.  Did your Onny ever act this way? 


Sounds like your cat is holding his own, but as age and possible illness set in, it's not a "linear" process, like people, they a have a good day, followed by not so good days; this is why we refer to this process as an emotional rollercoaster.  

I stand by everything I said earlier in the thread, so I don't want to repeat myself except to tell you that you will not know the full extent of what is happening to your kitty unless you get an ultrasound.  If the bloodwork reveals certain conditions, that may be enough for you to understand what you need to do to help him out comfort-wise, but the rest will be guesswork on the part of the vet.   This is why a person gets an MRI.  Same thing.

He goes to his food dish (my kitty, and a previous kitty did the same thing, they all do this, because they love to eat) because he *wants* to eat, but when he gets there, he does not have an appetite.   Again, this is no different than what happens to an older human adult.  It is partly a symptom of old age, partly one that the animal or human is not feeling well.  

Making more beds for him low to the ground is an excellent way to help him be comfortable, and keep him from feeling he has to jump (even if he still can).   My kitty would look up at his favorite place to jump and one day, when I saw him walk away from it, my heart broke, and I knew that he knew he could not make it.   

Check the whites of his eyes, that's one thing you can do to make sure they are white (rather than turning yellow-ish, which is a sign of liver disease).   You can at least check that yourself.  

You're doing awesomely, we all have to learn as we go, we really do.   

Keep monitoring and if it makes you feel better and more organized, keep a notebook and make some notes of his behavior.  Just small notes, nothing elaborate.   This way when you go to the vet, you will be able to provide a clearer picture.    BTW, you are right that his age would help, but on another level, it is not that important.   If he had a hard life, he could "age" more than another cat his own age, and if he was predisposed to any abnormalities or conditions, that would not be age-dependent, either.

Nice going.    It's clear you really care.   Keep the faith.

"Now that the time has come
 Soon gone is the day,
 There upon some distant shore
 You will hear me say,
 Long as the day in the summer time
 Deep as the wine-dark sea,
 I'll keep your heart with mine
 Till you come to me"  (LM)

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spiritdog
I agree all you are doing shows how much you care for his comfort. Yes Onny always went to her food dish, and I like you, tried a variety of foods. Some worked for awhile. I had a lousy vet who was clueless.

Oh you might want to ask them to take his BP. I recommend it for elder pets as it can cause a lot of damage (to many organs) if it is too high. My Onny went blind! OMG. But because I acted fast enough, took her to my eye specialist, only minimal damage was done and by putting her on BP meds. transdermally she did regain her sight, which was amazing to see. Bless her big heart, she was a tough one.

Good luck, please let us know how he does. I agree it is good to keep a journal of all the changes you notice, I did that with all my pets. Any clues you can give the vet is helpful, and question the vet no matter how they don't like it. You are his advocate, you go girl!!!

PS. I agree that if he had a tough life it took years away from him. I currently have a stray who lived in the parking lot for 2 years eating out of the dumpster. The vet guessed him at 10, but his teeth are horrible, he seems a bit stiff as well. Living like that takes a toll on them. He is now fat, very content and never wants to step outside again, lol. He always just wanted a home, he is a gentle giant at 18lbs. He is large boned, big A** cat, and very happy here. But I do know his time is limited due to those 2 years of "survival".
"People disappoint, dogs never do" - spiritdog

"You MUST be your pets ADVOCATE, if it doesn't feel right walk away." - spiritdog
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patent123
After trying some tips from the vet I added litter boxes of various heights, tested different litters, and so on.  I am still seeing accidents though and lets face it cat urine is the worst smell.  Since litter preferences has been ruled out he now will go into the vet this coming Monday for the day.  They suspect its basically dementia is the cause since they see it often in their older cats.  We decided to have them keep him though to get urine/blood and start there.  I wanted to rule out any medical explanation.  Something tells me he will be healthy though.  He has always used his litterbox  I have had him 5 years now with no accidents.  He doesn't howl when he pees which could suggest a UTI, he doesn't appear to be drinking excess water, and all his litter box messes seem normal.  Part of me is afraid that it will just be him losing his mind and forgetting things.  

I think that's the scariest part knowing your cat is healthy but their mind is going.  I can't justify putting my old man to sleep because of that! I also can't imagine my house being over taken with cat urine though either.  That's not a healthy way to live specially with a young child in the house.  I am now waiting patiently for him to go to the vet.  Worrying about all the potential outcomes.  My poor guy could have a medical issue and what if I can't fix it through medicine.  Or it is something as simple and stupid as getting old and forgetting things.  I feel if this had happened later on down the road I could handle the situation better.  Having this happen months after my girl passes is making me emotional.  I can't imagine having to say goodbye to my cat...even though I know some day I will.  

Its hard not having anyone to talk to about this either.  I rent from my Mother and if she knew my cat was having accidents she would freak out.  She isn't a cat person by any means so the fact that she let me adopt him while I was living with her years ago says a lot...but having accidents I don't think she would be understanding. I know I shouldn't get worked up until I have answers or rule out things but I am.  My whole world revolves around my cat now.  I haven't really developed a bond on that level with my new dog yet... my cat is someone who loves to be held and snuggled at night.  He always sits with me at night and purrs like a maniac...I don't know what I would do if that was gone. I don't see myself ever getting another cat either.  He was my first cat I was always a dog person up until him.  I liked cats but never saw myself sharing a home with one.  He grabbed my attention though and did every day until I drove him home.  We had an instant connection that I really can't explain.  The moment I saw him though I felt like he had always been mine. 

All I can do is wait and hope I get some answers Monday.  I know they will take good care of him.  That vet office was the reason I was able to adopt him.  He was a mess when he came into the Stray Animal Shelter.  They did all his vet work at an extremely discounted price and went above and beyond to get him back on track.  One of the technician in particular took a liking to him to the point where I would have to take him by for visits.  I know hes in good hands but the worry is overpowering.  I should stop getting myself worked up...
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