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Ask Dr Scott Nimmo Your Own Question
Dr Scott Nimmo
Dr Scott Nimmo, Small Animal Veterinary Surgeon.
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 21532
Experience:  BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }
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My 15 year old cat seems to want to eat all the time he's got

Customer Question

My 15 year old cat seems to want to eat all the time he's got biscuits for morning although he's not keen, so lately I've been giving him a tin of meat too. Then at night I've been giving him 2 tins then some Cat milk later, but he is so skinny and getting skinner. What do you think. ???
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr Scott Nimmo replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome, This is just a quick note to let you know that I am locked on to your question and am working on it now. My name is***** and I am a small animal vet with many years experience and rest assured I will do my best to answer your question to your satisfaction today. You can expect a written reply sometime within the next five to ten minutes or so. We also have the option to talk things over by telephone or via an internet service such as Skype. Please get back to me if this is more convenient for you. { There is a small extra charge for phone calls } Regards, *****
Expert:  Dr Scott Nimmo replied 2 years ago.
Hello again I have worked out an answer for you ... Having read your question through I would not be at all surprised if your cat is suffering from a condition called hyperthyroidism, this is a fairly common condition in older cats but unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it on a home remedy basis. If this is the diagnosis you are going to have to get a vet involved. However I can tell you more about it, the following is taken from an article I wrote on the subject which has been published elsewhere. 1. Hyperthyroidism is a condition which is being diagnosed by small animal vets more and more these days. Typically this will be an geriatric cat say in the region of thirteen years of age or older. At the initial consultation the owner will tell you that the cat appears to be thin and losing weight but paradoxically it is eating very well, some cats may even show an abnormal interest in food and will hang around the owner's legs in the kitchen and cry each time the fridge is opened. There are other signs you can look for as well, these would include a dull spiky coat, a pendulous abdomen and over active behaviour, they may be thirsty and the faeces will be paler than normal and have a consistency like cow pats.In some cats the shape of the face changes and they are said to have a permanently worried look. This disease is the result of an over active thyroid gland which in turn produces large levels of thyroid hormones, the disease is confirmed by running a simple blood test which measures the levels of circulating thyroid hormone. Many vets can carry this sort of test out in-house these days.2. Some background information : The thyroid gland is a bi-lobed structure located about half way down the neck close to the windpipe and when the lobes are enlarged they are quite easy to feel. Put very simply the thyroid gland's main job is to produce thyroid hormone, hormones are chemicals that are secreted by glands which act like messengers telling specific body parts what to do. Thyroid hormones help the body make energy, keep body temperature regulated and assist other organs in their function. No one really knows the exact cause of this disease but it was first documented in the cat about thirty years ago.3. Treatment : As you can see from what I have written so far this disease is quite easy to diagnose both from clinical signs and a blood test but once we have our diagnosis how do we treat it. Well there are three main general options, I will list them below :A. Radioactive Iodine. This is given by injection and has the effect of reducing the thyroid gland down in size, because iodine is not concentrated by any other cells in the body other than the thyroid gland there is very little radiation exposure (or side effects!) for the rest of the body, the radioactive iodine will build up in the thyroid and kill or disable the thyroid gland cells. The advantages of this treatment is that no anaesthetic is involved and the treatment is very simple. The down side is that it is expensive and the cat has to be kept in isolation for a number of days afterwards, also some cats can develop under active thyroid glands after this treatment.B. Surgery. This is a relatively easy procedure which most small animal vets will be able to tackle, a portion of one or both thyroid glands is removed and logically this reduction in the gland will produce a reduction in circulating thyroid hormone. The advantage of this procedure is that you get an immediate beneficial effect and the cat usually requires no further treatment or medication. The down side of surgery is that of course an anaesthetic is required, care must be taken not to damage the parathyroid glands during surgery, some cats become hypothyroid [ reduced thyroid hormone ], and very occasionally the gland grows again and more surgery is necessary.C. Medication. There are drugs available which will reduce the size of the thyroid such as Felimazole the active ingredient of which is thiamazole, provided there are no other complications these drugs can be very effective. The plus side to these drugs are that the owner can give them themselves in tablet form and initially this is the cheapest way forward. The down side to medication is that blood tests are needed a number of times a year to monitor the situation, some cats resent being dosed with tablets twice a day and can be difficult, this causes stress to both he cat and the owner, a small number of cats can develop side effects to the medication, these can include vomiting inappetance and lethargy. Owners should note that their cats may be on these drugs for the rest of their lives so the long term cost will mount.4. The bot***** *****ne : So there we have it, a description of the disease, how it is diagnosed and how it is treated, but which treatment regime should you choose? Well of course your vet will talk you through this as all the forms of treatment I have listed can be effective. If you live close to a main referral center such as a university and your pet is insured the radioactive iodine would be a good option, if your pet has other complications such as heart disease then you might want to avoid surgery and rely on medication. As I said your vet will talk you through all the options. I hope I have covered your question fully enough but if you would like further clarification or to talk things over a bit more then I will be on-line for the next hour or so and I will be more than pleased to continue working with you. Regards, ***** ***** be kind enough to rate my service to you after we have concluded our dialogue, such feedback helps me maintain the quality of my answers.
Expert:  Dr Scott Nimmo replied 2 years ago.
Hello again,I am just checking back in to see how your cat is getting on after our recent dialogue concerning the suspect hyperthyroidism.How are things going? Did you manage to talk this over with your local vet?Regards,Dr ScottPlease be kind enough to rate my service to you { Using the site rating system }, such feedback really helps me maintain the quality of my answers.