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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22615
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My twelve year old male sounds as if he smokes 80 cigarettes

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My twelve year old male sounds as if he smokes 80 cigarettes a day, he continually sounds as if he's choking but nothing is being brought up, also I think he dribbles urine quite a bit

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Do you think Ally is coughing or retching?

Has he had any vomiting?

Has he been eating normally or struggling?

Has he been drinking more in recent times?

Since he is dribbling urine, which raises concerns of bladder issues or conditions that would cause increased urine production, can you tell me if he is also urinating larger volumes (perhaps soaks the litter box) then before?

Does he dribble all the time or just when sleeping?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
It sounds like hard coughing as if if it's deep in his lungs, I can see his whole body move when he does it. Today was the first he has EVER vomited from I got him at 6wks old as an abandoned kitten. He seems to want to eat all the time as if he's never filled and he won't drink anything but cat milk although I have saw him drink some water from a bowl outside ( clean fresh water ) he doesn't have a litter box I have tried that so I can keep an eye on things but he seems to dribble all around the house (disgusting smell ) and he always seems to smell faintly of urine although I have never known him to wet his bed
Thank you Lynn,

Poor wee Ally,
I have to say that it does sound like we have more then one issue afoot here. Now I appreciate that the cough is what you have noticed as his most obvious sign, but with his other signs we do have to appreciate that this could actually be a secondary issue and not the main problem for him. Therefore, we do need to consider both issues and that they could actually be related despite causing such a variety of signs.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX we would need to consider that would induce a deep lung based cough in an elderly cat, there are a range of potential issues. Commonly we can see this with bacterial pneumonia or infections of the lower airway, and these would top out list with Ally under the circumstances (since systemic disease would weaken his immune system and leave him vulnerable). Another concern for him would be heart disease which can induce coughs by causing fluid build up within the lungs and can potentially elevate the trachea if it also causes heart enlargement. Less common issues that would also be a consideration would be feline asthma and lungworm. Furthermore, while its not nice to think about, we can see airway tumors arise anywhere within the airway to cause cough (and they can lead to secondary infections or bleeds further worsening the cough).

Now as I noted, I don't think the cough is the full picture here for Ally. Ally's urine dribbling does make me concerned that Ally may be overproducing urine and thus leading to the leakage you are seeing. Dysfunction of his ability to hold his urine would also be a concern, but if he doesn't have bedtime accidents, this is a wee bit less likely. Furthermore, with this clinical sign combined with desperately hungry appetite, does make me suspicious that we may be looking at the subtle signs associated with one of our common systemic conditions of the elderly cat. Specifically, we can see a ravenous appetite coupled with increased urine volume production in conditions like diabetes and hyperthyroidism (hyperthyroidism can also affect the heart leading to heart induced coughing). We can also see the urinary signs in cats with organ troubles like kidney, heart, or liver disease. Often these cats will drink more as well, but if he goes outside then we cannot be sure just how much he is really drinking here (just as a lack of litterbox makes true urinary volumes difficult to appreciate). In all of these, the strain of the systemic disease would weaken the immune system and increase his risk of lung based infections here.

Now to get to the bottom of what is causing his increased thirst, it would be ideal to have a check-up with his vet. If he is due for a booster soon, then you may want to consider making the appointment sooner. This would allow you to have your vet examine him to make sure there are no sinister or lumps or bumps or organ abnormalities present within his abdomen. They can also have a listen to his chest to make sure to make sure there is no issue with his heart or changes within his lungs. This would be especially ideal here since it would allow you to be about determine the trigger for his cough. As well, at the same time, you can request they check a geriatric blood panel to identify any organ issues or metabolic/hormonal issues. Together these will give you the most straight forward means of determining the cause for his increased thirst and allow you to know how it should be addressed.

Alternatively, if you aren't keen to get him checked right off the bat, you can consider collecting a urine sample for your vet to analyse (cats do tend to donate urine samples if we leave them with an empty litterbox in a non-carpeted room overnight). The vet will be able to analyze the sample, determine if there are bacteria and white blood cells present (signs of infection), rule out urine glucose (a marker of diabetes), bilirubin (a marker of liver disease) and will be able to check the urine's specific gravity to make sure he is concentrating his urine appropriately (since not doing so is a hint of kidney issues). This can be a non-invasive and inexpensive means of ruling out some of our concerns for Ally. (though do note that hyperthyroidism does need a blood sample for testing since the hormone doesn't enter the urine).

Overall, I am concerned that Ally's cough is not the only issue here. While we could see a lung infection or heart issue arise on its own, his other signs increase concerns that these are secondary issues and that something else is lurking. Therefore, at this stage, it would be ideal
to take steps to pinpoint which of these differentials is to blame. The sooner you do so, the better able you will be to treat and support Ally to address his cough, stop his urine leaking, and keep him comfortable in his older age.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

Dr. B. and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thankmyou so much I will be making an appointment with the vet in the morning. Your answer was absolutely brilliant

You are very welcome, Lynn. Smile

I do think that is the best course of action for wee Ally.
All the best & let me know how you get on,
Dr. B.



If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )