Cat losing weight... What would you do?

In early 2005, I rescued two sibling cats from an awful cat shelter. They were feral, and it took them almost a year to become social with me and my husband. Now, they are pretty great kitties, each with his/her own little personality and quirks. Neither one has ever jumped into a box. They hate feeling cornered.

They are both deathly terrified of any other human. If the doorbell rings, they run and hide under a bed, behind the washing machine, or anyplace else they can squeeze into. They are also opposed to being put into a cat carrier. Their opposition has only increased over the years, such that I gave up taking them to the vet for their annual physicals, shots, etc. about three years ago. I’m ashamed about that – I’ve had cats and dogs for the last 30+ years and have faithfully taken care of their health care needs. Until now. It just hasn’t been worth the fights, injuries and stress (on all involved).

The kitties will turn 12 in April. The male, Sidney, used to be about 16 pounds. About five months ago, he started rapidly losing weight. I’m guessing he’s 8-9 pounds now. He’s also shedding a great deal. Drinking more water and urinating more. Also diarrhea. I’m guessing diabetes. However, his energy level is great. His appetite is the same (always hungry). He also seems very… clingy. Where he used to take naps in a cat bed or at the top of his cat tree, he now naps at my feet, or anywhere he can be close to me. He is not lethargic. If anything, he is more alert than usual.

Oh, I failed to mention, he will no longer jump onto places he used to jump. A favorite activity is to drink from the kitchen faucet after meals. He will no longer jump onto the counter. He now meows demandingly until I pick him up and place him on the counter.

I am torn. I know he needs to be medically evaluated. That said, knowing the stress it will cause him (and me) getting him there, is it worth it? Honestly, as long as he’s not suffering, I would be okay if he would someday pass peacefully in his sleep. Nor do I want to prolong the inevitable with unpleasant treatments and/or frequent vet visits.

So, guys, what say you?

I’d love to upload a pic of the pair (they are beautiful kitties!) but I don’t know how. :frowning:

That’s a tough one, but I would take him to the vet, just to be sure that he’s not in pain and hiding it.

I don’t know if such a service is available where you live, but in my city, one of the animal shelters does house calls for pets for the elderly or the blind or others who cannot get out to personally take a pet in to the vet. I think your situation might warrant a house call from a vet. It couldn’t hurt to ask around.

I have thought about a house call, but as I indicated, they RUN whenever someone comes over. I live in a 3 level townhouse, and there is no way to limit their whereabouts. In fact, in the past, they somehow KNEW it was vet day. No unusual activity, no cat carrier in sight, and they would just KNOW they needed to hide in an inaccessible place. Sigh.

I’ve used a mobile vet for years - most areas seem to have one or two of them doing business these days. I had fostered a cat a while back who was afraid of car travel and somewhat of a nut case. The mobile vet telephoned about 10 minutes before she arrived to say she’d be pulling into my driveway shortly. I then put a small plate of cat food in the small bathroom and once the cat was in there eating it, I closed the door - thus locking him in (per the vet’s instructions). When she arrived she went into the bathroom and captured the cat in a matter of minutes.
Your cat sounds quite unwell due to the major weight loss. Thyroid, perhaps? The correct medication might really improve his quality of life. Maybe a mobile vet is the way to go.

I really don’t mean to be a naysayer, but if I put food in the bathroom, I wouldn’t see the cats for a week. I’m not exaggerating, they are that intuitive. I’m not opposed to a mobile vet, but I need a more sophisticated plan. :wink:

When our cat quit eating, it turned out that she had throat cancer. It wasn’t diagnosed until she was pretty well on the way out. Take your cat to the vet; the trauma is not as bad as whatever is wrong.

That’s the thing! He’s eating, and drinking, and snuggling. Other than not jumping, he’s not acting ill at all. That’s what I’m struggling with. Obviously he is sick. But given his background and personality, what is best for him?

Is it possible the vet could give you something to put in kitty’s food to knock him out for a while? Long enough for you to get to the vet’s with him?

Some rescue groups can give you ideas for luring kitty into a room. Some will even take pity on you and come help, if you’re in a jam or really worried.

When the girl Evil Feline Overlord decided she’d never get into a carrier again, I was moving. I literally had to move everything except girl cat out of the house, then go back in for her the next day, as we were both overwrought.

I called the local feral cat wranglers, and a couple were willing to take pity on me and come help. But then my vet made a brilliant suggestion; a plastic hamper with a lid.

I just put the open hamper on the floor, with some catnip and toys inside. Then I left for the night. When I came back, we played a little. Then I put a little more catnip and a toy inside the hamper, and sat down to read. Then she went in. And I crept over, held the lid closed, stood up the hamper, and bungee-corded the top down. The Overlord had a “what just happened here?” expression on her face that was priceless.

Even after multiple trips to the vet in it, the girl Evil Feline Overlord willingly goes into the hamper (with a cover) because it’s always around and it’s usually fun. I put it on the floor for a few weeks before The Vet Day, and the two youngest Overlords play in it. Wheee! I make a game of, oh, look, we’re in teh carrier! Now we’re walking and now you’re in another room! What happened? Whee! Catnip! Who wants a treat? Fun!

On The Day, I shut Feline Overlord into the hamper as soon as she gets in it. I bungee-cord the top down, and put the whole thing in the bathroom until it’s time to depart. At which point she howls the house down and generally sounds like she’s being tortured.

All this to say; do try to get kitty to the vet, or the vet to the kitty.

Good suggestion, burpo. I will inquire about that.

This thread got me to reminiscing. In 2002, I had just moved from Milwaukee to the DC area. By 2004, I was needing a fur baby. A dog didn’t fit my future husband’s and my lifestyle (too many hours commuting), so I decided I wanted a cat. We ended up at a horrible cat rescue where we found our feral kitties. These two long-haired tuxedo kitties chose us. We were told they were both females. Bonnie and Betty. My now husband hated cats. But, that night, after meeting them. hubby said “You know what? Those cats are black and white. I thought of some really cool names for them! Oreo and Suzy Q!”

I thought, “Ugh. Those are some seriously stupid names, but since you are showing some interest, YES! Those are GREAT names for our kitties!”

We brought them home the next day. As I said, it took almost a year for them to acclimate.

One day, 11 months later, Suzy Q jumped on the bed when I got home from work. That was new. I tentatively started petting her. She rolled over, showing her belly. I started to stroke her underside. Slowly. Gently. Then I felt it. OMG! Suzy Q is a boy!!! Hubby instantly renamed him Sidney.

Sidney’s personality instantly changed. Since that moment, he has been a really cool cat. Loves to watch football (Go Pack Go!).

Anyway, thanks for listening, and for any additional advice / suggestions.

GrumpyBunny, your post made me tear up. Thank you.

Cheerful, I really like Grumpy’s suggestion vis the hamper; makes the going to the vet experience a little more positive.

I think Benadryl might “take the edge off” for transport to the vet–supposedly works with bunnies (maybe even Grumpy ones :smiley: )–but consult the vet first, by all means.

It sounds like it could be kidney issues.

Try the hamper.

I was able to get kitty tranquilizer from the vet for my feral-with-all-but-us kitty. Funny how they always know.

Good luck.

FIND a way to get vet and cat together - preferably with one of the tolerated humans present.

It sounds very much like you do not have the luxury of time, and the longer you wait, the smaller the window for medical intervention.
See the vet - or be prepared to kick yourself for a long, long time, wondering “What if…?”.

Not a place you want to be.

It sounds like your kitty has diabetes. Increased appetite and increased thirst with weakness and weight loss are classic symptoms.

I do empathize. My Boris has not been eating well. He is also almost 12. He had a full physical with normal labs and a clean bill of health then stopped eating 2 days later. We decided to take him in for a dental exam to see if his teeth were a problem. I too have a 3 story townhouse and after the first 8 or 10 trips up and down the stairs trying to catch him I have decided to hire him on as my personal trainer. I gave up on day one after 2 hours and tried again on day two. I managed to shut him in a room but it was pitiful to see him lying on his side with his paw under the door yanking as hard as he could and not being able to open it because I had latched it. Unfortunately, his teeth were fine and a stomach X-ray was OK so I am without an answer for now. (I think we’re going to try some Pepcid next).

Oh, dear. THAT wasn’t the idea! :smiley:

Good luck with kitty.

BTW, I’m not sure if Benadryl is given to cats. My cats were sedated with Chlor-trimeton when they traveled from FL to Boston (my mom and I flew, and each had a kitty with us in the cabin; the vet had cleared it since Baxter would’ve been terrified, and tiny, bunny-soft, sweet-looking Zoe would’ve eaten the nice TSA lady who made sure I wasn’t carrying feline bombs on the plane). 1/4 tablet sedated them, but they were still awake, IIRC, but maybe we have a vet who can weigh in.

Nope, my first thought was thyroid, but kidney problems is also main a main differential for the description that you’ve given of your cat. It needs to go to the doctor. Thyroid issues, kidney issues, diabetes, these are all chronic problems that could be relatively easily managed and let the cat happily live for years, so the trauma of getting cat to the vet is well worth the diagnosis and treatment that the vet can give.

The cat will suffer even less if you take it to the vet to the correct diagnosis. You’ll have a plan, and something that can be managed. Heck, if it is thyroid problems, it can even be cured, and if it is diabetes, depends on the type, sometimes they can be managed with diet. But you need to figure out what it is and you need to get the cat to the vet. The trauma is worth it. Cat does not have an incurable horrible cancer, but most likely has a very common, very treatable, middle-aged cat disease that if managed can lead to you two spending years together.

That’s hilarious! Sidney is a great name for a cat, though. Way cooler than Susie Q.

I thought of two other ideas that might help while feeding my Overlords this morning.

First, get some spray Feliway. Spray an old t-shirt or towel and put it in the hamper. Maybe spray around the hamper, too. Feliway mimics the “calm and happy” pheromones in a cat’s cheek. Some cats react really well to it and kind of zone out, some have no reaction. It’s worth a try, though.

Second idea is some herbal calming drops. You can just put them in kitty’s food or tuna fish. Be careful – don’t bother with the homeopathic nonsense, you want real herbs. The drops I use contain Valerian, which is effective on my kitties (Valerian works on people, too). I have both Eco Balance calming liquid and Richard’s Organics Pet Calm. Both seem to work ok, especially in conjunction with the Feliway.

Thanks to all for the advice. I really like the hamper suggestion and will pick one up today. I have doubts, though, because neither will enter a box of any size (unlike 99.9% of cats who find boxes irresistible).

Let’s see if this link works for pics. Sidney is the one with the larger white blotch on his face. Oreo has the white stripe.