Dear Dr. Thompson: I have a 12-year-old female cat that has always been healthy for her entire life. She is an indoor cat and doesn’t hang around other cats. Recently she has been losing her appetite and consequently some weight also. Sometimes she won’t eat all day so I force-feed her a little Boost to give her some nutrition. She seems to bounce back and is active and eating again. She is drinking and seems regular. I have not changed her dry cat food but I have started supplementing with wet food, but she will only lick the gravy. She occasionally spits up but only every two weeks or so. Can she be experiencing some aging disease with her thyroid or diabetes? I don’t want to lose my cat because I love her, but I am on a limited income and can’t afford expensive bills for her. Do you have any suggestions? She has been a good cat and great companion over these many years.
It is clear how much you care for your companion and you obviously want what is best for her. You know something is wrong and I know you are worried that it may be a problem you might not be able to afford to treat and solve. However, taking the first step in having her examined to formulate a plan is what is needed at this point.
She could have any number of problems but many of the diseases that could be causing her symptoms can be straightforward to diagnose and treat. A common problem in middle-aged and older cats is dental disease, which can be very painful and that may be the reason she doesn’t want to eat. Fortunately, this can be solved by extracting any abscessed or painful teeth.
If her physical exam by your veterinarian doesn’t reveal the source of her weight loss, a simple blood test would be the next logical step. Some conditions like an overactive thyroid can be effectively managed with medication that costs pennies a day and the blood tests are about the cost of a monthly cable bill.
She may have a more serious condition that might require more extensive diagnostics and treatment, or she may have a disease that is not easily managed. She sounds like a loyal companion and her care may be more affordable that you expect.
If her care is more involved, there may be options for you to fit your budget and get her the treatment she needs. It is a conversation your veterinarian will be comfortable having with you and the two of you should be able to find a course of action that will help her through this difficult time. Good luck.
Questions for Dr. Gary Thompson can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to The Blade, Attn. Ask the Vet, 541 N. Superior St., Toledo, OH 43660. Dr. Thompson regrets that he cannot answer individual letters.