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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 32886
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My cat is constantly hungry but is losing weight

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My cat is constantly hungry but is losing weight
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry to hear of this with Ronnie. There are three main considerations for a cat such as he.

1) Diabetes mellitus - he would also be polydipsic (increased thirst) and a simple fasted blood sugar would confirm or deny the presence of diabetes.
2) Hyperthyroidism - he may act younger than his age; he may be polydipsic (35% of hyperthyroid cats) and tachycardic (increased heart rate); he may have a palpably enlarged thyroid gland. Any T4 (total thyroid blood test) 2.0ug/dL (25nmol/L) or higher in a 15 year old is suspicious of hyperthyroidism. This is often underdiagnosed because too many vets think that a T4 in the "normal" range is normal for a 15 year old.
3) A pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI) - a failure of his pancreas to produce enough digestive enzymes. This is newly recognized to occur in cats - particularly cats with a history of pancreatic disease. A blood test called the TLI will identify if PEI is present.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If it is PEI, would that explain the constant hunger and is it treatable?

Yes, PEI is one of the considerations for polyphagia (increased hunger) and it's easily treated by supplementing Ronnie with powdered digestive enzymes which are incubated in his wet food for 30 minutes prior to feeding him. This disorder is less commonly diagnosed than either diabetes or hyperthyroidism.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Is this powdered digestive enzymes only available from a vet or can it be bought over the counter? We are in the UK.

In the United States one can find these supplements both over the counter and by prescription from a vet. The most reliable of the supplements, however, have been the prescription ones such as Pancrezyme ( and Viokase ( I don't believe these potent enzymes would be available over the counter in the UK but it would be best to consult your local vet in that regard.
Dr. Michael Salkin and 4 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you.

You're quite welcome.

I'm going to check back with you in a few weeks for an update. Feel free to return to our conversation - even after rating - prior to my contacting you if you wish.

Please disregard the info request.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry to disturb you again, if I was to get some of this enzyme if he doesn't have the condition would it harm him?

No worries. No, as long as it's handled properly as per the label's instructions, it won't be harmful. These products can be expensive, however. You might find the TLI test to be more cost-effective.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your help, but unfortunately Ronnie passed away Friday before I could get the enzyme.


Paul Munroe.

My condolences for your loss of Ronnie, Paul. I appreciate your taking the time to let me know.

You may receive an inappropriate follow up from the site ostensibly from me. It wasn't and I apologize in advance should you receive it.,

Please disregard the info request.