Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
Does she seem keen to eat and perhaps beg, yet then eat very little?
What kind of food are you feeding (kibble or soft food)?
When she cries, what is she doing at the time?
Is it while eating or in the middle of the night or when she is off on her own?
Have you noticed her drinking more?
Passing more urine (soaking the litter box more so, if she has one)?
Any retching, vomiting, teeth grinding, drooling, lip licking or pawing at her mouth?
yes to first ? Soft food for 2nd ? Q3 she cries on the stairs middle of the night but also during the day. She is drinking more and does tend to drool but this is not too noticeable.
Thank you William,
When an older cat suddenly starts to vocalize excessively without a clear reason, there can be a few causes for the behavior that are related to her health and/or mental status. Now as I am sure you can appreciate, cats actually very rarely vocalize because of pain. As a prey species themselves (despite being the bane of wildlife), cats are more likely to hide pain (or hide away, withdraw, be lethargic) instead of screaming about it. This is because to do so, they'd be making themselves a target for predation. Furthermore, her crying isn't likely related to her teeth or the food situation, since we'd expect her to be yelling only when at the food dish.
Now it isn’t uncommon to find older cats demonstrating excessive vocalizing (often at night but not always) when they are suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure). High blood pressure can be an old age change but can also be precipitated by underlying kidney issues, heart issues, or metabolic conditions like hyperthyroidism. And it is important to note that we will see increased thirst and often weight loss with all of these. As well, in the case of kidney disease, this can cause the development of uremic oral ulcers (in the mouth and throat). These can cause oral pain despite lovely teeth and could cause her drooling and waning appetite. So, this is a concern for Jodie.
To determine her blood pressure is elevated, you may want to consider having her vet check her blood pressure. This is something that is done conscious and can often be performed during a consult (or sometimes we will admit stressy cats to let them settle before taking a reading). If it is high, there are treatments that can be used to bring this down and the vocalizing usually declines with the blood pressure. And since we do have that extra appetite issue and potential underlying trigger, we'd want to discuss ruling those out with her vet as well. Especially since tackling the primary cause can lower the blood pressure and stop the crying as well.
Now those would be my concerns for Jodie. Further to that, I do just want to touch on one more potential cause for her crying that is 'harder to diagnose.' Specifically, we can see dementia type issues for older cats. And cats with this underlying can struggle with any changes in environment and with coping with her own older age (ie. sight deterioration, mental confusion, etc). So, if blood pressure issues were ruled out for her, this would our other concern.
And just to give you some tips on how to help support a kitty with dementia, we often will focus on trying to give them the feeling of a peaceful safe environment, using de-stressing tools. Feliway, (also known as Comfort Zone in the US pet stores) is a synthetic cat pheromone that helps to soothe kitty anxiety. This can be used as a spray (that can be used on furniture or her cat bed) or a plug-in diffuser (that can be used in the room she is in most often). This may just be enough to soothe her and help her cope with being in this aged situation. As well, there is also a diet on the market called Calm by Royal Canin. This contains a number of supplements that have been found to provide stress relief to cats. As well, there are nutritional supplements like Kalmaid or Zylkene (which you mix into their food), which ca soothe anxious cats.Overall, based on your history, I wouldn't assume the teeth are at the root of our signs. Instead, with her vocalizing, this is more suggestive of high blood pressure troubles. Furthermore, if the vocalizing and waning appetite are linked, I'd be most concerned about her kidney function being the overwhelming underlying issue causing all her signs. Therefore, if she is nearly due for a booster, then you might consider having her blood pressure checked at the same time. As well, you may want to speak to her vet about testing a urine or blood sample to determine if we have some kidney issues behind our signs. Depending on their findings, they can determine if this is all linked or if we have two issues. And based on the results of their exam and tests, you will be able to address this for her to increase that appetite and decreas the abnormal vocalization.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
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Thank you for your assessment of Jodie. A lot of things tie in with what you have said and we will contact her vet on Monday. Thank you once again for all your help.