Dear Dr. Neely:
Our Tabby will be 17 in July. Always been in great shape, never sick. We had been feeding him mostly dry food, presently “Royal Canine” for Senior #27, but every other day or so we’d give him little amounts of tuna, shrimp, chicken, sardines.
About 6 months ago, I began noticing his drinking water bowls were needing refilling several times a week like the water was evaporating - but we noticed him drinking way more often than he used to.
Then we suddenly noticed he was getting bone-skinny and his coat began looking raggedy. Also, his appetite began increasing and he became ravenous several times per day and would get angry with me if I didn't feed him.
At the same time, however, he also began throwing up almost every day, sometimes soon after eating and sometimes 6 to 12 hours later. His bladder and bowels seemed to be working just fine and even a little overtime.
I checked his stool for visible signs of worms or anything else, but saw nothing. I wanted to suspect old age as the recent cause of his condition and behavior, but his changes have been to drastic and sudden.
Instead, I suspected diabetes. I checked his urine for keytones with a strip test. The aqua colored tip never changed color. (If the color had changed even a bit, I’d be willing to question the sensitivity of the strip.)
A little research led me to strongly consider feline hyperthyroid disease. Without being 100 % certain, I opted to try treating him with an all-herbal, T3 and T4 suppressant called “Resthyro” as I figured that if my diagnosis of feline thyroid disease was wrong, the herbs might not cause effects as acute as those which might be caused by a medicine.
We changed him over to wet food, “Wellness”, with some of his dry food ground up like sand added, plus several drops of “Resthyro” and sometimes a drop of liquid Vitamin B Complex. After about a month of such treatment he has stopped throwing up by about 85 % and his coat has greatly improved. I think he has gained little weight back, but he’s still skinnier than ever and his appetite is still voracious and he still drinks water like crazy. If the diagnosis is right, I’m thinking that maybe we have to go with something stronger like an actual feline hyperthyroid medicine.
You’re probably wondering why we haven’t taken him to a Vet – well, we would have gladly taken him to the Vet, but money is critically short, in fact, we’re probably going to lose our house this Summer, so we’re trying to do this as much as possible on our own – plus with the cat being old, we were trying to spare him the trauma of putting him in a carrier and further subjecting him to anxiety and discomfort which hopefully we can avoid.
Is it possible that our diagnosis is way off? Are we missing something important? Hopefully, the information I’ve provided can get you close enough to at least narrow down the possibilities. This cat has been part of our family for almost 17 years. He’s a family member in every way and we want to do everything we can to restore his basic cat health. We greatly appreciate your assistance.
Your diagnosis is not "way off" at all. Without having a blood test and physical exam to confirm, I would still say you are most likely very accurate with your diagnosis. Your kitty has classic signs of feline hyperthyroidism. Ravenous appetite, increased thirst, weight loss, increased urination, and vomiting are the symptoms of almost every feline hyperthyroid patient.
Fortunately, out of all the cat illnesses a kitty can have, Feline Thyroid Disease is one of the most treatable, however, it can be fatal if not treated. Unfortunately, the signs you see on the outside are nothing compared to the damage that is being done on the inside of your cat's body, specifically the damage to his heart.
Cats that die from feline hyperthyroid disease almost always die from heart "attacks", blood clots, hypertension, and/or congestive heart failure. You won't see these signs until it is too late.
I understand all too well that financial difficulties can interfere with our caring for our cats or even ourselves. However, if there's any way you can find a way to afford veterinary care, that is your cat's only hope. It has already been too long and his heart, no doubt, has been affected. A veterinarian can examine him and analyze blood tests that will give you a definitive diagnosis. Treatment needs to be started right away. Currently, the medication used to treat feline hyperthyroidism is Methimazole.
It sounds like you love your cat deeply and want him to live as long as possible. If there is any way, please make an appointment right away with your veterinarian. Thank you for writing and best wishes.