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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22463
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Our 6 year old male cat is anorexic and losing a line of fir

Customer Question

Our 6 year old male cat is anorexic and losing a line of fir running along his spine in the neck region. He is very thin around his thighs and rear end but looks full and healthy in the head - it's like having two cats glued together.
please help.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
Hello & welcome. My apologies that none of my colleagues were able to assist you sooner (as you did post your question a wee bit early in the morning). Anyway, I just came online, read about Zico’s situation, and wanted to help.

You noted that he was anorexic (which means they aren't eating at all), but then noted that he eats. Can you confirm that he is eating?

Are you actually seeing vomiting or just suspicious of it?

Have you noticed him drinking a lot?
Urinating a lot?

Any diarrhea?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello. Sorry for the delay. He eats well, but his rear end and tail are very thin. it used to so full and thick, but the base of the tail(where it joins his body) is particularly thin. He isn't limping though he walks with his thigh lower than his shoulder, as if there's weakness there. His paws are full and furry.

We've not seen diarrhoa, though he was vomiting a few weeks ago in a neighbours garden. Unfortunately we couldn't access to take a look. Because his coat is usually thick, he often suffers hair balls.


Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
No worries Steve,

Thank you for clarifying the situation. Now if Zico is showing thinning of his hair but eating and not losing weight, then we do have to consider overgrooming being at the base of his hair loss. And if he is overgrooming, then we can certainly see vomiting due to the excessive volume of hair he will be ingesting when doing so.

Now to help you determine the trigger for his overgrooming, can you tell me:

Have you seen any changes to his skin (ie redness, ulcers, sores, crusts, scabs, etc)?

Are you seeing him groom more often?

Have you changed his diet in the past 4-6 weeks since signs started?

Any new environmental agents in use (ie new laundry soap, carpet powder,etc)?

Has anything changed in Zico''s life (ie new pets, new neighborhood cats, renovations, new people, changes to your schedule, new furniture, babies, etc)?

When did you last treat him for fleas? What did you use?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello. The thinning in his coat was on a line at the back of his neck and now seems to be growing hair again.

He has lost a lot of weight in his hind quarters and walks with his hips lower than his shoulders.

The hair at the base of his tail has thinned and the tail body is not as fat or full as it was. In fact it is very emaciated .

He eats well though not as well as formerly.

He is now very nervous of other cats.

No signs of vomit or diarrhoa.

He drinks.Not excessively.

He vomitted some weeks ago but doesnt now.

He looks like he has suffered an infection and not fully recovered.

There is no sign of his being in an accident.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you Steve,

It has been a while but good to hear from you. Though it seems that Zico's signs change with every message that we exchange. If he is eating well but very thin, then I'd be concerned about this all his signs being related to an internal issue. It is possible that we were seeing overgrooming and a general lapse in coat quality related to this. Furthermore, it is possible that if he has had major weight loss (+/- arthritis which can start at his age), then he is losing muscle mass on the back end to give us this thin, lowered weak hind appearance.

Now we can see cats start struggle to keep weight on despite a good appetite for a range of reasons. Issues that can manifest this way at his age will include conditions like hyperthyroidism, diabetes, liver disease, and kidney troubles. Lesser issues (that don't quite fit with your history thus far) would be chronic diarrhea inducing diseases, protein loss via the kidneys/urine, and even dental disease (if he just cannot eat as well as he used to) As well, while it isn't nice to think about, we must keep in mind that cancer can manifest as weight loss with little other signs (just as it doesn't impinge on the body, only to steal nutrients from him)

Just to note, In cats with hyperthyroidism or diabetes, we can also see a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This is where the cat drops his hocks (example) due to nerve effects of these systemic condition. This can cause a lower stance on the back end and would be something to check with him.

With all this in mind, to get to the bottom of what is going on it would be worth having him checked by his vet (if he is due for a vaccination soon, you could move it up a wee bit early and have him checked out at that time). The vet will be able to have a feel of him and just make sure there are no sinister lumps and bumps to blame for his weight loss. And if you were able to bring in a urine sample at that point, the vet could check it for signs of diabetes (ie. sugar in the urine) as well as check its specific gravity (how concentrated it is) that can tell us if there are problems with his kidneys might be lurking. Urine samples can often be collected by placing the cat in a carpet-less room with an empty (or with non-absorbable litter) litter box overnight.

If hyperthyroidism is a potential after your vet has examined him, then a blood sample may be checked to assess his thyroid hormone to determine how severely affected he may be. As well, if you do have a blood sample checked, you can also have his blood sugar, liver and kidney parameters checked at the same time, giving you a good chance of ruling out the above differentials and determining the cause of his abnormal weight loss.

Overall, in his case it would be prudent to have him checked out and at least have a urine sample (or blood sample) checked. Because if you are able to the bottom of the exact cause sooner rather then later, it will give you the best chance to deal with this, stop the weight loss, and help him to regain some weight.

I hope this information is helpful.

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

All the best,

Dr. B.


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