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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 16923
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Our 12 year old cat has suddenly become very needy, demanding

Resolved Question:

Our 12 year old cat has suddenly become very needy, demanding constant attention (including through the night). We had another cat living with us until about 10 weeks ago but this behaviour issue has literally just started since he has come back from a week in a cattery while we were on vacation. Is this likely to be temporary because he has been away for a week, as it is very unlike him, but it is so constant it is preventing us getting any sleep. If we put him outside the bedroom he whines and digs up the carpet.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about Rory's increased vocalizations and needy behavior.

Has your fellow had a recent examination by his veterinarian including any blood testing?
Cats can certainly become senile as they age but far more commonly these are the effects of hyperthyroidism with or without other metabolic disease processes (kidney, liver or intestinal disease or diabetes).
I would be highly suspicious of hyperthyroidism, which is a tumor of the thyroid gland that overproduces thyroid hormones and initially leads to an on edge feeling, hypertension which can cause headaches, increased vocalizations, and eventually weight loss even with an increased appetite, often with some vomiting or loose stools. These cats seem to feel great initially, as the increased levels of thyroid hormones give them energy, but cannot maintain their weight due to a very high metabolic rate. If the disease is not controlled it can lead to heart, kidney and liver damage, possible brain bleeds, and retinal bleeds and detachment due to hypertension.

Ideally Rory needs to see his veterinarian for an examination and some blood tests.

In the meantime if he seems to be losing any weight it may help to feed frequent small meals of canned food. It may help to try kitten food as well as it has more calories and protein which may help him maintain more muscle mass. Make sure to introduce any new food very gradually as any sudden diet change is likely to upset his gastrointestinal system, leading to vomiting and diarrhea.

To try and calm him you can use synthetic feline calming pheromones, such as those found in the product called Feliway. These come in a diffusor form, which may work well in your bedroom, sprays and impregnated collars.

Best of luck with your fellow, please let me know if you have any further questions
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for this. I'd say "anxious" was a good description for him right now. He is very unhappy being outside a room he knows someone is inside, and I sent the original question to you after having him pawing me (with very sharp claws) for 2 hours between 2am and 4am (I'm in the UK). He seems happy enough sitting with/on someone, but obsessively so. He had his regular check up with his annual jabs, but they don't normally include blood tests here with that, so I think hyperthyroidism may be a good call, although at the moment he has no weight loss problems, but he will eat four five times a day if we let him. I will also investigate the Feliway too - we have black marks over all sorts of bits of furniture right now as he is also marking more than usual. I'll be making a vet appointment for him today. Thanks.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Ouch, those sharp claws would be no fun at any time but at 2am I'll bet they were especially painful. Please let me know how things go for him with his testing, thanks, Dr. Kara.