Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.
I am very sorry to hear about Gizmo's suspected lethargy, excessive appetite, and distended abdomen. Now even if he was a greedy cat, we'd not expect to see just a bloated stomach and we'd not expect him to be sleeping more due to obesity. Instead we'd see weight gain arise more evenly over his body. Therefore, we do need to be concerned about what is actually in that belly.
To give me a better idea of his situation, can you tell me:
Does his bloated belly feel hard or taut like a water balloon?
Has he had any increased in thirst or urination?
Have you noticed any change in his stools, (ie harder, diarrhea, larger stools, going less frequently)?
Despite eating well, can you tell me if he looks to be losing weight at other sites on the body (ie is his spine or hip bones more prominent)?
Thank you Jean,My apologies that I wasn't able to catch your reply before I had to be away. Now I must say that I am quite concerned about wee Gizmo. To hear that your elderly cat has a distended belly but seems to be losing weight everywhere else raises our concerns to what is within the belly and what is stealing nutrition from what appears to be an otherwise healthy, normal wee cat. Especially when Gizmo is eating so well that he should be putting on weight with his greediness.
Now when we have abdominal distension of this nature, we have a few concerns. If the he had just felt flabby with a pot belly, then we'd have to consider metabolic diseases like diabetes or hyperthyroidisim would be a concern (since this can cause hunger, weight loss, and increased thirst and urination). But if we have a firm upper abdomen with hanging extra skin below, this fits more with something physically taking up space. And this means we have to start thinking about organ enlargement (especially liver), fluid accumulation, and tumors.
Now enlargement of organs like the liver are self-explanatory and can arise due to liver disease as well as secondary to metabolic diseases affecting the body on the whole. Otherwise, in regards XXXXX XXXXX build up within the belly (ascites), we can see fluid cause a similar distension of the belly and when we do it is often a side effect of a primary condition (which could also cause the weight loss and wasting). Examples of conditions of the elderly cat that could cause ascites in the belly includes heart disease, small tumors significantly affecting the circulation, liver disease, protein deficiency caused by protein losing diseases of the kidney or GI (we can also see this with viral or bacterial infections, but would be less likely with this history).
Finally, when we have a firm entity in the distended abdomen, we have to always consider a potential tumor growing within the abdomen. This could be a nasty cancer or even a benign growth and can arise from the liver, kidneys, spleen internal lymph nodes, or even gastrointestinal tract. These masses often grow quietly until they get to a size where the cause distension of the belly, compression of the other abdominal contents, and steal nutrients from the rest of the body (leading to weight loss despite a great appetite)
In this situation, it would be ideal to have Gizmo checked by his vet. (Especially if he was a lean cat that now has a firm abdominal distension). They can have a feel of his belly to tell you if you are facing a tumor or fluid from one of the above conditions. They can also listen to his heart to determine if there are any murmurs or irregular rhythms that would elevate suspicions of heart disease. And if fluid is suspect, then they can either test a blood sample (to check organ function) or test the fluid directly (which can be checked for tumor cells, protein levels, and help determine the cause for its origin). And depending on their findings, will give you an idea to whether this is something that can be treated or if this is something that would have a poor prognosis for him.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
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