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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 10160
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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Our 13.5 yr old male cat has lost weight - approx. 1.7kg

Customer Question

Hi, our 13.5 yr old male cat has lost weight - approx. 1.7kg - over three months. He was a big, healthy cat. He is bringing up bile/part digested dry food. Blood tests showed no apparent problems, but he is avoiding milk now and leaving some meat in his bowl recently. He is a very affectionate, friendly cat, but appears slightly depressed now. He had a leg break (in plaster for 6 weeks) back in summer, but appeared to make a full recovery afterwards.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Deb and will do my best to help you today.I'm sorry that your cat is having these issues. I know how frustrating it must be to not have a specific diagnosis when clearly something is going on with him. My concern when presented with a patient who presents like this is that there could be other disease processes going on that we just have been able to identify with routine blood work. Many conditions have been ruled out but not all of them.1. Pancreatitis is a disease that can often present with cats having a reduced appetite and about 30% of them will vomit although they typically aren't losing a lot of weight over a relatively short period of time. While a special test (spec fPL) may be elevated, ultrasound is a better diagnostic tool.2. Unfortunately, when a cat this age loses this amount of weight and routine blood work is normal, then I always worry about cancer somewhere in the body...we just haven't been able to detect it yet. In some cases, x-rays or an ultrasound may be helpful in pinpointing a location although the gastrointestinal tract is likely given his vomiting issues.3. Gastrointestinal disease especially late onset Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is also possible; sometimes the only sign is weight loss and disinterest in food. Additional testing might be required to make a diagnosis such as a biopsy which many owners are understandably reluctant to have done for their older cats. Sometimes if I suspect this problem, I'll give these cats a steroid injection. If they significantly improve, then this may be at least one possible explanation for their symptoms although cats with cancer often have secondary inflammation and will also improve....for a time anyway. As to treatment options without a specific diagnosis: 1. Sometimes appetite stimulants will help in cases like this. Mirtazapine or Cyproheptadine (which would have to be dispensed by your vet) may be useful for some cats.2. Some cats have a low level of nausea in addition to the active vomiting they're doing which is why they have decreased interest in food. Use of over the counter Pepcid AC at a dose of 1/4th of a 10 mg tablet twice a day will cause no harm and may be helpful. Cerenia is another drug which has very good anti-nausea properties and works well as an appetite stimulant but would have to be dispensed by your vet.Other over the counter options to consider for vomiting would be Dramamine. Dose would be 12.5 mg twice a day or 1/4th of a 50 mg tablet. Or, Meclizine 12.5 mg once daily (Antivert). Sedation might be seen with these drugs, though.It's possible that if the vomiting can be controlled, then the appetite will least to some degree.3. For some cats, a change in diet to one which is more hypoallergenic or contains a novel protein is helpful or even grain-free may be of help:Z/D (from your vet), or Natural Ba***** *****mited Ingredient Diets, Nature's Variety Instincts line, Evo duck or venison, Nature's Variety Frozen Raw Medallions (I recommend that they be zapped in the microwave for 10-15 seconds on each side). I hope this helps to provide a few possible explanations for what may be going on with him. Deb
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Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the rating; it's greatly appreciated. And, best of luck with your cat. Kindest regards, Deb
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi againMy cat had two x-rays this Summer due to his broken leg, as mentioned. Would another one just now be safe for him? Also, he has only been leaving some food over the last few days, and has lost the bulk of his weight whilst eating well - indeed he appeared very hungry over the past few weeks.
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
If you're wondering whether or not a whole body or partial body x-ray at this time would be harmful in terms of radiation exposure, he should be safe. As I mentioned, many cats with IBD or gi issues can just lose weight or develop a low level of nausea which is why they have a reduced appetite but it does concern me when a patient is still eating a normal amount of food and yet is losing weight in the face of it ....especially when blood work is normal. Deb Deb
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your advice, Deb. We are taking our cat to a different vet tomorrow, as we didn't feel that our previous vet had much to offer, in way of treatment suggestions.
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
Hilary:You're more than welcome.I never think it's a bad idea to get a second opinion in situations like this especially if you've lost confidence in your original vet. Keep me posted, if you have a chance. Deb