What Is Weight Loss And Chronic Disease
A cat that is losing weight, but still consuming food is likely affected by chronic disease. Your veterinarian may refer to this condition as cachexia, the term used to describe the wasting and weakness of ones body due to chronic illness.
Any time a cat loses a significant amount of weight it is a reason to be concerned, as your cats body mass index greatly affects the functions of the body. Cats lose weight for a variety of reasons, and may be related to anorexia, or refusal to eat. Infestation of internal parasites, stress, anxiety, depression, a change in food and even moving to a new home can cause a feline to stop eating, leading to a dramatic decrease in body weight. Nevertheless, any cat that is losing more than 10% total body weight should be thoroughly examined by a veterinarian, especially if it is consuming food and still dropping pounds.
Weight Loss and Chronic Disease Average Cost
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When Does A Cat Vomiting Need Veterinary Attention
Most cat owners have experienced the unpleasant sensation of cat sick between the toes on a nighttime bathroom trip, or as a nice addition to your favourite rug. Vomiting is the active expulsion of stomach contents, which in cats can be violent, and may have many causes. It needs to be differentiated from regurgitation: where food is brought up with minimal effort from the oesophagus before ever reaching the stomach.
You may see warnings signs such as drooling, swallowing, licking their lips more, or hiding away. Short-term vomiting consisting of one or two episodes, or lasting less than 24 hours, in an otherwise healthy cat is usually nothing to worry about.
Neurologic And Dermatologic Changes
Yawning that is more frequent or is inappropriate for the situation, changes in mentation or behavior, ataxia, or seizures may be associated with intracranial disease. Cats with hyperthyroidism may show increased activity, increased vocalization, increased grooming, or an unkempt coat. Pruritus may occasionally result from cholangiohepatitis or other liver disease or as a paraneoplastic syndrome.2
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How Will A Vet Treat Cat Vomiting
Typically, the treatment of cat vomiting involves withholding food and water until to give the upset stomach time to settle. Once thevomiting has stopped, pet parents will be advised to slowly reintroduce water and then a bland diet.
The above-mentioned approach works for cats with acute vomiting. Chronic cat vomiting is a more serious condition that requires veterinary attention finding and treating the underlying cause while providing supportive care.
The treatment for cat vomiting can be costly, especially if the underlying issue is severe. In such cases, it is helpful to have good pet insurance. We strongly recommendOneVet, which provides 24/7 access to licensed vets and up to $3.000 in emergency funds.
Evaluate Initial Diagnostic Test Results
Once you’ve ruled out inadequate food intake unrelated to illness , try to determine what body systems are affected. The history and physical examination findings will help to localize your search. For example, if a cat that has a history of chronic intermittent vomiting is now experiencing weight loss and anorexia and if thickened intestinal loops are noted on examination, primary GI disease is likely.
Perform a complete blood count , a serum chemistry profile, a serum thyroxine concentration measurement, a urinalysis, and a fecal examination. It is often a good idea to keep some extra serum frozen for possible additional diagnostic tests. Measure blood pressure in cats more than 10 years old. Perform FeLV and FIV testing if the status isn’t known or the history warrants it. Heartworm testing may also be indicated.
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Treating A Cat That Keeps Throwing Up
If your cat continues to vomit or has a history of chronic vomiting, further testing would be indicated as described below:
Gastrointestinal panel: This will test the pancreas enzymes to rule out pancreatitis. It will also look at cobalamin and folate to determine if there is evidence of malabsorption in the small intestines.
Abdominal ultrasound: This imaging modality is very sensitive at identifying smaller foreign objects that x-rays cannot. This ultrasound looks at the pancreas and helps measure the wall of the gastrointestinal tract. It will also help rule out any enlarged lymph nodes that can sometimes be seen with cancer.
Chest x-rays: These may be recommended if it is not clear whether your cat is vomiting, regurgitating, or coughing. Chest x-rays are also recommended in older cats to rule out evidence of cancer.
In some cases, the diagnostics come back normal or do not provide a definitive diagnosis. This can be seen if the disease is at the cellular level of the small intestines.
In this instance, the next step would be obtaining biopsies of your cats gastrointestinal tract to differentiate between inflammatory bowel disease, food hypersensitivity, and gastrointestinal lymphoma. Your veterinarian may try a new diet prior to obtaining biopsies in the event that this is related to a food allergy.
Examine From Nose To Tail
After obtaining a complete history, perform a thorough physical examination in every cat presenting with weight loss. Be sure to record the cat’s weight and body condition score.
Perform a thorough examination of the oral cavity if possible to detect dental disease, oral masses, stomatitis, gingivitis, or foreign bodies that may be leading to decreased appetite or dysphagia. Pale mucous membranes could indicate anemia or poor perfusion. Assess the cat’s hydration status by checking capillary refill time, skin turgor, and mucous membrane moistness. Icteric mucous membranes may be detected in patients with liver or pancreatic disorders or hemolytic anemia. The palate, sclera, pinnae, and ventral abdomen are good places to check for icterus.
Figure 1. Palpation of submandibular and cervical lymph nodes and thyroid glands can reveal unilateral or bilateral abnormalities.
Palpate all cats older than 6 years for thyroid gland enlargement. Occasionally, the thyroid gland may be cystic, and an enlargement is not diagnostic for hyperthyroidism. Parathyroid gland enlargement from renal secondary hyperparathyroidism may be mistaken for thyroid enlargement.
Figure 2. V-trough pet positioners assist in keeping patients in place and comfortable during abdominal examination and selected procedures.
Palpate the joints for effusion, increased warmth, and pain. A plantigrade stance in an elderly cat can be seen with chronic diabetes mellitus .
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Some Of The Signs That Your Cat Isn’t Grooming Themselves As Well As They Usually Do Are As Follows:
- A greasy, unkempt coat
- The coat may appear less shiny
- An increase in dandruff
In many instances, there is not just one change that stands out. Rather, there are several subtle changes. Keep a close eye on your cat, and consult with their veterinarian if you begin noticing changes in their appearance.
What Other Treatment Or Diagnostic Testing May Be Required
If the vomiting is severe or if your veterinarian suspects a serious underlying problem, such as kidney or liver disease, more aggressive treatment may be required. It may be necessary to hospitalize your cat for intravenous fluid therapy to combat dehydration and correct any imbalances in the levels of electrolytes. In some cases, it may be necessary to administer injections to control the vomiting. In less severe cases, you may be able to treat your cat at home. You may be asked to administer fluids and special solutions at home, and if this is the case, you will be shown how to do this. You must be patient, giving only small quantities at frequent intervals. If your cat becomes distressed by home treatment, contact your veterinarian for further instructions.
“If the vomiting is severe, more aggressive treatment may be required.”
Additional diagnostic tests may be required in cases of chronic vomiting, or when the cat has been vomiting for more than two to three weeks, even though the vomiting may be intermittent and the cat may appear otherwise well. In these cases, the underlying cause must be determined in order to treat the problem appropriately. Some of the more commonly used tests are:
Blood tests may show evidence of infections, kidney and liver problems, thyroid disease, or diabetes, and may provide other clues leading to the diagnosis.
See handout “Testing for Vomitingâ for a more in-depth discussion of what other tests your veterinarian might perform.
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Why Do Cats Lose Weight
While weight gain in cats is a frequent concern due to related health problems like heart disease and arthritis, its equally alarming when your fur baby suddenly begins to lose weight. Youll want to keep tabs on her diet if you notice unexpected weight loss so you can make a note of whether your cat is eating the same amount as always or shes lost their appetite. From minor issues with digestion to more serious ailments, theres a variety of reasons why your cat might lose weight.
Your Cat May Have Diabetes
Feline Diabetes can also cause for weight loss in cats. In fact, weight loss is one of the most noticeable sign of Diabetes. Many people also notice excessive thirst and frequent urination in their cats. If you notice these symptoms in your cat, then you should take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible they will be able to diagnose your cat after taking some blood and urine tests that measure your cats glucose levels. Treatment for diabetes usually involves giving your cat insulin and feeding your cat a special diet that is low in carbohydrates.
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Cobalamin And Folate Measurement
Measuring the serum cobalamin concentration is recommended in cats with chronic GI disease.* Because adequate serum cobalamin concentrations depend on normal pancreatic protease activity and normal absorption by binding to specific receptors in the ileum, cobalamin deficiencies may be found with chronic disorders of the distal small intestine and with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.16 Because cobalamin is required for metabolism, cobalamin deficiency may contribute to the clinical signs of GI disease and lead to suboptimal response to treatment of the primary disease.
Increased serum folate concentrations* can be a sign of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth because bacteria in the small intestine produce folic acid, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream.
Causes Of Cat Weight Loss
Anxiety, stress, or depression. Cats under psychological stress may go off their food, which can result in weight loss. Situations that may upset your cat include excessive noise, other animals in the feeding area, dirty food dishes, or proximity of the food dish to the litter box. Cats can also be upset by the disappearance of another pet or by a change in a routine.
Cancer. Although not all cat weight loss is caused by cancer, it is a relatively common culprit. Other symptoms that commonly appear include loss of appetite, lethargy, and hiding.
Diabetes. This disease, which may be caused by a failure to produce the hormone insulin or an impaired ability to respond to it, commonly causes weight loss in cats, often with a change in appetite. Cats with diabetes may also drink excessive amounts of water, urinate more than usual, act sluggish, develop urinary tract infections, and have sweetly scented breath.
Feline infectious peritonitis. This virus, which most commonly occurs in cats raised in catteries, is known to cause wasting. Cats with FIP will seem sick, often with a fever that doesnât respond to antibiotics.
Gastrointestinal problems. There are a variety of different conditions in the gastrointestinal tract that may cause cat weight loss. When this is the case, other symptoms may include diarrhea, lack of appetite, and vomiting. Common GI problems that produce weight loss in cats include inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, or certain infections.
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Cat Drooling While Sleeping
Similar to the phenomenon of cats drooling while very relaxed and happy, some cats may drool in their sleep. If the drool is minimal, this may be normal for your cat. However, if your cat is having excessive drooling during sleep, especially if you have never noticed this happening before, its worth getting it checked out by your vet.
Less Common Causes Of An Old Cat Vomiting
Less likely causes of a senior cat throwing up include foreign objects, parasites and viruses. Sometimes cats swallow objects or plants and then throw them up. While common in young cats, senior cats are generally well past the curious stage in their lives, so this is quite uncommon. Worms and infections that cause vomiting are rare in senior cats so we do not list them as common causes.
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How Do I Recognize Vomiting
Vomiting may begin with a stage of nausea, in which the cat appears restless, and possibly anxious. The cat may lick its lips, salivate, and repeatedly swallow. Vomiting itself involves forceful contractions of the abdominal muscles, leading to expulsion of fluid, froth, or food. The severe effort associated with vomiting may be distressing to the cat.
It is important to differentiate this from the abdominal contractions associated with coughing. Cats may cough up some froth or foamy material that they subsequently swallow. Cats usually crouch down on all four legs when coughing with the neck stretched out. It is helpful if you can show a video to your veterinarian of your cat exhibiting the behavior so they can help you distinguish coughing versus vomiting.
“It is also important to differentiate vomiting from regurgitation.”
It is also important to differentiate vomiting from regurgitation, which is usually associated with problems affecting the esophagus and is a more passive process. Features that help to differentiate vomiting from regurgitation include:
- vomiting typically involves abdominal contractions and effort
- regurgitation typically occurs quickly without abdominal contractions
- regurgitation often occurs right after eating or drinking
Barium Study Ultrasound And Endoscopy
Often, X-rays do not diagnose the problem , but they help determine if further abdominal studies are needed. These other studies could include a barium study, which will help determine if there are foreign objects in the intestines or if there are motility issues with the intestines. Another study could be an ultrasound to look at the architecture of different organs ultrasound can be used as a means to sample different organs to get a definitive diagnosis.
In addition, an endoscopy may be recommended by your vet. Endoscopy is a way to look for foreign objects in the stomach that do not show up on X-rays, and it can be used to retrieve foreign objects. This procedure also allows viewing of the lining of the stomach and upper intestines to look for abnormalities, and can be used to collect samples of the upper gastrointestinal tract.
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Medical Mystery: What Caused Cats Vomiting Sudden Weight Loss
At house call for a relatively new patient, a 10-year-old cat named Sunny, his owner said he had been vomiting and was concerned he was losing weight.
I recently made a house call for a relatively new patient, a 10-year-old cat named Sunny, whose owner said he had been vomiting and was losing weight.
Sunnys weight the winter before was 17 pounds. In six months, he had lost 4 pounds, which is an alarming weight loss for a cat. His owner described hearing him vomit but had not actually witnessed the vomiting episodes. His owner also explained that this had occurred in his past.
Sunnys exam was unremarkable, but I wanted to do blood work, considering his age and symptoms. It came back normal, with the exception of a very mild increase in white blood cells. Sometimes we see this as an indicator of stress, and my house visit could certainly cause stress. I treated him with an anti-nausea medication.
During a follow-up two weeks later, his owner noted more weight loss. An abdominal ultrasound was planned to determine whether there were abnormalities of internal organs that might not show up on blood work.
Upon further discussion, his owner realized that these symptoms had a seasonality to them, occurring each spring.
Dental Disease Can Cause Weight Loss
Though cats are less common to eat when experiencing dental problems, dental disease can be another problem for rapid weight loss while continuing to eat. If you notice your cat chewing strangely, drooling, or pawing at his/her mouth, it may be worth a consideration and a talk with your veterinarian!
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What Is The Symptomatic Treatment For Acute Vomiting
Non-specific symptomatic treatment is often prescribed initially in mild cases of acute vomiting. Your veterinarian will usually advise you to feed your cat an easily digested, bland diet in small quantities given frequently. A veterinary prescription diet specifically formulated to be easy to digest is often recommended. Alternatively, a specific home-cooked diet may be recommended. It is important that the cat does not receive any other foods other than what your veterinarian advises during this period.
“Water should be freely available and is important to prevent dehydration.”
Water should be freely available and is important to prevent dehydration. If the cat is improving, the quantity of food offered at any one time can gradually be increased back to a normal quantity and then the cat’s normal diet can be reintroduced gradually over several days.
In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to control vomiting or relieve inflammation, for example maropitant citrate famotidine or metronidazole . This approach allows the body’s healing mechanisms to correct the problem.
If your cat does not improve with symptomatic treatment, your veterinarian may make a change in medication or perform further tests to evaluate the problem more thoroughly.