View Full Version : Putting weight on a senior cat?

Feb. 9, 2010, 01:24 PM
I am having trouble putting weight on my 15 year old cat. I want to make her comfortable in her older years, but she seems to be disappearing! She is a Turkish Angora, white, fluffy thing. She has always had problems with different types of cat foods until we discovered six years ago that she was allergic to pretty much any commercial brand (kept puking up her dinner). We switched to veterinary brand hypoallergenic and the puking has disappeared.

As of recently, she has become extremely bored with her dry cat food and will only nibble at it (it is given free choice) and seems to be ALWAYS hungry (begging, meowing, trying to eat my food!). We started trying to introduce canned food again and there was no problems. However, she seems to eat and eat and yet she is as light as a feather. She is also starting to get mats on her hindquarters near her tail which is a new thing, as she was always able to keep herself quite neat. They are quite painful too as she doesn't want you touching them.

I'm at a loss as to what to do. I could take her to the vets again, but I know they will just pump out their line of food as a solution, but she is not eating it. I am thinking about taking her to put her under anasthesia and at least clip away the mats. But short of feeding her pure fat, is there anything else I can do? She has been blood tested, stool/urine test and the numbers are fine. Anything? :confused:

Feb. 9, 2010, 01:35 PM
I have been feeding my older cat, 15yrs, kitten chow by Purina. She much prefers dry, but all the other mixes seemed to give her the runs. Pretty awful, finding spots she had left behind after laying down on her blankets! We had to cage her up for a while until her stomach settled. She will eat a half teaspoon of this or that, plain yogurt, some food leftovers from the table now and again.

I will say the kitten chow is making her a bit plump in the stomach, which she has never been. Probably was about 5# at the fattest before.

So anyway, the kitten chow is working to keep her stomach settled, adding a bit of weight, with no runs at all. She was a barn cat before bringing her inside a couple years ago. Maybe I should find her a mouse or two!

Feb. 9, 2010, 02:17 PM
First, I would definitely get her mats cut out. Mats can be extremely painful because they start to pull at the skin.

As for food, my mom started having this issue as her cat got older. She basically started feeding him whatever he wanted to eat. Now mind you I am a proponent of proper, good nutrition but I think my mom figured because the cat was basically nearing the end game (he was about 17 when the not eating started) she just gave him what he liked. In this case, it was the canned Fancy Feast stuff, which is possibly one of the worst foods to feed. However, it stopped him from losing anymore weight, although he never really bulked up again. Oh, and she eventually put him down at 19. So if you want, I would just purchase a variety of foods and see which one she'll eat.

Feb. 9, 2010, 03:35 PM
eldery and sweet as pie kitty at our barn was wasting away to such painful looking bones that I thought for sure she was not going to make it. BO had vet check her out and vet prescribed something? that induced her appetite. I don't think ? she was on it long, before she'd put on quite a bit (!!) of weight and was eating like a champ again.

wish I knew what it was...but do ask your vet! This girl was turning her nose up even at the tuna...and whatever it was really kick started her back to eating to a healthy weight.

Feb. 9, 2010, 03:43 PM
Make sure the panel they ran included a T4, and even if it was normal but towards the higher end of the range I would have them check a free-T4, which looks at the unbound amount of hormone in the blood. It is a more reliable test for hyperthyroidism, which is a hugely common problem in older cats. They often have increased, almost ravenous appetitie while still losing weight, and many times they seem to not be grooming as well.

I'm very suspicious that you might be dealing with a thyroid cat, but the good news is that there are some great management techniques for helping these guys, and they often can be managed and happy for years.

The two most common (although certainly not only) problems that cause weight loss in older cats are kidney disease and thyriod disease. TYPICALLY (not always) with kidneys you will have decreased appetitie and increased thirst, while thyriod will have an increased appetite and weight loss. Both diseases will often have vomiting along with the other clinical signs. However thyriod is harder to diagnose and easier to treat.

Vet Tech

P.S. and don't let them push their food, no matter what she's eating it's better for her than not eating at all. And run farther away if it's Hills. ;)

Feb. 9, 2010, 04:01 PM
With my old kitty, before he passed, part of his problem was dehydration that was making his nauseous, not wanting to eat... So the vet gave him fluids.

Towards the end, he was getting soft catfood and human baby food (chicken flavored was his fav:)), but this was only for a week or two as he never really improved and I had him put down (he had other medical issues that wouldn't get better and euth was the best th ing for him :sadsmile:)... so I don't know what the long term would have done for his weight/ appetite.

My guy was a longhair and started getting mattes too, because he was having a hard time grooming himself due to arthritis. He was on kitty Cosequin for a good year or so and I really saw an improvement.

Good luck with your kitty!

Feb. 9, 2010, 04:16 PM
I have two older girls here, 14 and 15, and we give them whipping cream which hasn't affected their stools. I have no idea if medically it's the worst thing for them but in small amounts they sure do enjoy it.

For sure cut those hair mats out. A younger obese cat I have (she gets no whipping cream) develops those because, frankly, she can't always reach her south end. :(

Good luck with your girl. My two old ladies spend all day snuggled up beside the terriers soaking up extra body heat!

Feb. 9, 2010, 04:21 PM
We have an older kitty, at least 12, who has never weighted much and is a picky 'cat food' eater. She eats the dry food (Iams), the occasional bit of KFC chicken or tuna and that is about it - no can food.
I had her on antibiotics last year and added yogurt to her diet which she lapped up. Continued with the plain, non-fat or fat (which ever is available) yogurt (we use Dannon) and she has gained some weight.
I don't think she will ever be plump - but at least she has a nice covering over her ribs and spine.
Not too bad for a kitty rescued in an Atlanta apartment complex then moved to a horse farm in Camden, SC. She is a very special kitty.

Feb. 9, 2010, 04:37 PM
I've got an older guy who has been dropping weight. Blood work showed everything normal but he had a mouth infection and needed teeth cleaned.
Got antiobiotics for mouth and was to bring him back in six weeks. Sam had
become the Hoover of the cats--always finishing off everyone else's canned
food bowls. Dawned on me he hadn't been at the dry food much--mouth hurt,
duh! Started adding water to a special bowl of dry food for him.

He went back for his checkup and had lost another six ounces. Mouth ulcers
worse, teeth cleaning scheduled. Started feeding small bowls of canned food every few hours and still doing it after his cleaning. Didn't want to let him have
too much at a time figuring he would throw it up. Amounts are getting larger.
Hopefully, he will soon be back to normal.

Sam is also a long hair and been doing the lion cut thing for a while. We're up to
once a year. First few times, we did the anesthesia thing which I don't like to do unless necessary. Found a groomer who has no problem with him not using it. He now comes home and struts his stuff. The other two longhairs aren't
as cooperative. Seems like the older the longhairs get, the more prone to matting they get even with a lot of combing.

Good luck with your kitty!

Feb. 9, 2010, 04:37 PM
Hyperthyroidism..... been there/done that.

Gave meds until upping the dosage could no longer control it. Molly Cat ate and ate and ate and was sent over The Bridge a very very skinny kitty :( :cry:

Have the blood work done.

Bank of Dad
Feb. 9, 2010, 04:51 PM
I'm in the same boat. See my thread on cat with chronic diarrhea. His thyroid tests came back normal. Since Nov he has been eating varieties of dry food and still losing weight. Now I am trying slippery elm, goldenseal elixor, baby food chicken and baby food rice.

Kitten food sounds interesting if it is not too high in protein. Will check it out.

Feb. 9, 2010, 06:46 PM
My Best Kitty In The World, Whisper, is 17 and has been on meds for thyroid and kidney dysfunction for almost a year now. He had never been a real good eater but is skinny now and his coat does look a bit ragged, but no matts. He has a special food for his kidneys from the vet but I gave up making him only eat that kind; if he wants the regular food that the other cats eat, he may as well eat it too. At least it's something that he'll eat, as well as the other food. As far as special food, he always had a sensitive tummy anyway so I never got real creative with him. Baby food sometimes. . . I'm getting ideas (to try in moderation) from this thread though. . . thanks guys!

Feb. 9, 2010, 11:46 PM
Here's another vote for getting the thyroid checked. Kidney too.

My old cat is now on blood pressure medication. (Yes they check his blood pressure with a little kitty sized pressure cuff wrapped around the hind leg.) His appetite and grooming habits have improved as his blood pressure has returned to normal kitty range.

A lot of cats really enjoy sliced lunch meat from the deli: turkey, chicken, roast beef. Not exactly a healthy balanced diet, but better than no calories at all.

Feb. 10, 2010, 01:01 AM
I second the lunch meat, especially the turkey slices that are slightly moist to the touch. They are very good for my toothless cat.
Also, smaller meals more often.
My 17 yr old I occasionally hand feed the turkey and the younger one wants me to sit down and rest my hand on her back before she eats.
I think they just need a bit more comfort, more reassuring and more real attention from us as they age.

Feb. 10, 2010, 11:12 AM
Thanks everyone. We have an appt for a blood test.

And we know all about the lunch meat. ;)

Lori B
Feb. 10, 2010, 12:00 PM
when I couldn't get my 19 year old to eat much, I would food process chicken breast and add a little chicken broth and warm it in the microwave. Baby food is very good too.

She would eat that up with a smile.

Feb. 10, 2010, 06:50 PM
when I couldn't get my 19 year old to eat much, I would food process chicken breast and add a little chicken broth and warm it in the microwave. Baby food is very good too.

She would eat that up with a smile.

^^ agreed! Something thats not too solid. Liquids are the best things now. Ask the vet for any cat vitamins that you can give. Baby food can also work! and definitely some milk!

Good luck!

Feb. 10, 2010, 08:31 PM
For mouth ulcers. there is a lysine gel available that helps a great deal. You can smear it on kitty's paw and they should lick it up.

Feb. 11, 2010, 01:13 AM
You've gotten a lot of good advice, and I'm glad you're getting the blood test. It's normal to have reduced kidney function in older cats. One way to deal with the and the weight loss is to give fluids. If you're a horse person, I'm assuming you're OK and can give sub-cu fluids to a cat. You should be able to get a saline solution bag from the vet, and maybe giving a 100 cc's or so once or twice a week will perk her up. You might do this for a little while and then she'll be OK, or have to do it for the rest of her life. My friend, who is a vet, kept her older cat going for years. We have a cat right now with some kdney damage and he turns into a rail unless he gets fluids.

Also, Nutri-Cal. I think you can get it in any pet store or catalogue. It's a very high calorie tube of goo the cats usually really like.

Feb. 11, 2010, 01:51 AM
If you think dehydration might be a factor, consider getting one of those cat fountains. They are not expensive and they really increased our cats water intake. I think it helped our old-lady-cat keep going for a couple more years (she finally pass away last summer at 22).

TB Fan
Feb. 11, 2010, 02:11 PM
A friend of mine had an OLD cat who lost weight over the summer. He has other health issues so I'm not getting into why he lost the weight. But he likes to go outdoors and the weather was changing. She wanted to fatten him up to keep him comfortable. I saw this cat and he was skinny. She fried up chicken livers and chopped them up. He couldn't eat the fast enough. He put on the weight. I will always remember that since I have a pile of senior kitties myself!

Feb. 11, 2010, 02:51 PM
When I was plumping up my old kitty Desmond, I used Missing Link supplement and salmon oil. He liked both of them very much -- I just mixed the ML into canned cat food and put a few drops of the oil on top.

I also gave him a bowl of cat milk... can't remember the name but it's sold in pet stores in little "juice box" containers and is processed so it doesn't cause diarrhea or upset.

I wouldn't recommend doing it now, in February, but my long-haired, watermelon-shaped, butt-matted kitty gets a complete shave in the spring (http://inlinethumb05.webshots.com/42244/2337207270098982996S600x600Q85.jpg). She is SOOOOOO happy. I cut out the mats and then use my horse clippers. She lies flat out on my lap while I do it; she is not normal.

Feb. 11, 2010, 03:22 PM
I'd suggest a wet food that's low protein. So fish or else a proprietory brand senior cat food - not dry stuff though.

Elderly cats often end up with reduced kidney function and then they can't absorp high protein food effectively and suffer weight loss (anorexia). Also cats are notorious for not drinking sufficient.

Feb. 11, 2010, 05:20 PM
Glad you're getting the blood panel done - your cat's behavior sounds like what my Cat1 did before she was diagnosed. Both my elderly cats (17 and 19) are in stages of CRF (renal failure) - but Cat2 is also hyperthyroid and her med dosages are adjusted every couple months (I didn't do the radiation treatment for her).

Food has become a big deal now for both. Hyperthyroid cat stopped begging and losing weight once she was started on methimazole - she's not a problem currently and will eat anything offered except the prescription diet stuff.

CRF can cause cats to have acidosis and mouth ulcers (thus the begging and then not eating - dehydration contributes to that too). SubQs, Pepcid, and slippery elm will help a LOT with appetite.

Both cats loathed KD prescription diet. Vet agreed it was better that they eat something than eat nothing. She also noted that there is some argument about whether a good quality high protein diet is better than a low protein, low quality diet - but that the big thing to watch out for is phosphorous/ash.

Cat1 gets diarrhea with ANY commercial canned food (RX or even the fancy high end stuff that is low in phosphorous and ash). Cat1 gets cooked chicken breast/thighs, cod, beef - pretty much whatever she'll eat. I add a pinch of taurine. She still gets a small amount of kibble (a high quality brand with the lowest amount of phosphorous/ash) but I add a lot of water to it. She's picked up weight since I started this, and her blood levels are better too. Vet signed off on my approach, btw.

The big changes I've noticed: they eat better and more, if you offer multiple small deals to them each day. They will eat more if hand-fed. They are more persnickety about what they'll eat. BUT - making these changes has vastly improved their health...

Here are some decent sources if your cat comes up with CRF and refuses the RX kidney diet:

There's also a CRF list on Yahoo and there are a lot of experienced people there. (and FWIW< some of those Fancy Feast cans in particular are very low in phosphorous, and cats find that stuff highly palatable - don't feel bad if you go that route, just do your research and check with your vet)