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Dr. Joey
Dr. Joey, Board Certified
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 4943
Experience:  15 yrs in practice, specialist canine/feline medicine
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My cat is 18 years old and has stopped eating and drinking.

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My cat is 18 years old and has stopped eating and drinking. She has always been a picky cat and I have tried her on her favourite foods but to no avail. I took her to the vet and she has tested her kidneys and although there is slight kidney failure nothing to worry about at the minute.

She was put on a drip overnight as she was obviously dehydrated and was given an injection to help her eat but is still not interested.

She still likes a cuddle and is purring but I understand they can purr if they are in pain as well.

She has had a good life and although it will devastate me to have her put to sleep I don't want to keep her alive just to please me.

I could have more tests done but if they find anything untoward, which needs an operation, I am reluctant to have it done at her age and she has a heart murmer as well so I don't think it is fair to put her through it. Meanwhile she is still not eating or drinking.

I have been told that they know when it is their time and just give up. Is this true?

I love her dearly and it is breaking my heart.

Dr. Joey :

Hello I am Dr. Joey. Thanks for trusting me to help you and your pet today. I am a licensed veterinarian with over 15 years of experience. I look forward to working with you.

Dr. Joey :

What a tough situation. I am sending you a cyber hug. I have been through this exact scenario many times with an older cat. What I usually recommend is to at least do some blood work testing (if not already done) that includes a CBC, chemistry profile, urinalysis and thyroid check. The big issues we are looking for includes kidney failure, liver disease, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), cancer, and an infection (like urinary tract infection). Some of these issues are entirely treatable such as hyperthyroidism or infection. And we hold out hope that this is what we find. Unfortunately kidney failure is our most common issue to find in an older dehydrated cat. But I think it is well worth it to put her through a blood draw and urine sample acquisition to know. It is relatively atraumatic to get these samples, when done by an experienced professional. If we find that she is in devastating kidney failure (after getting IV fluids) then her prognosis is poor and considering this may be the end may be the right step. However, if she has hyperthyroidism, then treating her with the medication may help resolve her unwillingness to eat (I have had several patients over the years that had the opposite of what we expect with this disease, which is to have increased food intake and weight loss; the cats just stopped eating and were terribly nauseated as the thyroid levels rose quite high).

Dr. Joey :

I always like to give our significantly senior kitties the benefit of the doubt. We must always remember age is not a disease and there is no reason to give up simply because she is older. However, if you elect to do no further testing and you try all that we can (IV fluids, antinausea medication, and appetite stimulants), then there is not much more we can do. Cats can linger without eating much for long periods of time, sometimes weeks as they wither away. And in that situation we do need to make a decision for her. What is the toughest (and I have been through this personally) is to know when is the right time. With my own pets I have to step back and make some objective decisions, which means for me I give my cats 3 to 4 days of entirely not eating/drinking and then I make the decision. If she has a big event (like a seizure or collapse) then this is our sign, and sometimes it will happen.

Dr. Joey :

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank u for information. She has already been tested for kidneys and urine. She has been given tablet to make her eat but hasn't worked. I think the problem has been coming on for some time but I thought it was just old age as she has never been a greedy cat. Will keep an eye on her but think will have to make a decision soon which will be the hardest one I will ever have to make as I love her dearly but don't want her to suffer
My heart goes out to you. This is one of the toughest decisions, especially for a friend that has been with you this long. I am here, if you have any further questions! Our goal at this point is to keep her as happy as possible.
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