Saturday morning Cleo wasn’t feeling well. Scheduled an appointment to get her into the vet Monday, but she didn’t make it. She died overnight Sunday. To say we miss her is an understatement - I still can’t put it into words without crying like mad.
We did not expect Cleo to go first.
Bernie is Old. After dickering about exactly how old she is, my Mom found her adoption papers. She was born 05/23/1989. Old. She was diagnosed last year with a thyroid problem and was put on medication (Methimazole 2.5mg 2x/day) to help keep her weight up. It’s not working.
When Cleo was alive we had switched to a grain free diet as Clee became grain intolerant. Bern didn’t particularly like the food, but she ate it. They split 2 - 3 6oz cans of Wellness grain free / day. It was not always eaten.
Monday we did take Bern in for blood tests. Poor thing is down to 4 pounds. Yes, four. Her thyroid levels should be under 5, but at are 11. We’re increasing the methimazole to 5mg 2x/day and her vet said she should eat whatever she wants. I looked at Bern and said “Filet Mignon?” MEOW! was her response. Because we still have some of the grain free food left, I added a tablespoon of beef broth to the moist stuff and she nommed it like crazy. It’s not something she should have often due to the sodium content.
Her vet said I could give her the dog food gravy for extra calories on the canned food and suggested kitten chow for dry food grazing. She can even have table food in small doses.
Anyone else dealing with a thyroid compromised feline? Any suggestions on how to fatten her up?
Four pounds sounds pretty alarming. Did your vet say anything about a special diet to help her gain weight? There are prescription diets (and maybe some OTC ones, I don’t know) that are high calorie, made for animals who are old or sick. OTOH, maybe the kitten chow is sufficient, since it IS made for growing animals.
If she stops being interested in eating, or isn’t eating enough, your vet might be able to give her something like Valium, which can stimulate appetite, or an anabolic steroid like Winstrol.
What about appetite stimulants? My old cat was on Mirtazapine. Ask your vet if that’s an option. My cat also had a bad thyroid problem, but her appetite went back up for most of the last year of her life.
I am NOT a vet nutritionist, but we switched to raw food for two reasons: Stokie’s poop, and we were worried about Dewey being so thin. Dewey eats the raw food like it’s going out of style (although I have to close a door so the other two don’t get his portion) and I think he might have plumped up a little. Also, I know what’s in it. I use the recipe from catnutrition.org, although I have been unable to source hearts without going online (which seems, you know, extreme, although maybe the neighbors would stop stealing shit out of my yard if I started receiving regular shipments of animal hearts) so I supplement those with taurine. The cats are healthy, sleek, glossy, and I do think Dewey has filled in a bit.
ETA - Jesus, 4 pounds. Dewey is 9, and he’s super thin. (He’s always been that way - just not a chowhound.) Seriously, if nothing else works, so what if he gets too much sodium? Bleakly, and if you’re sensitive right now don’t keep reading, what’s it gonna do, kill him?
I am very, very sorry to hear about the loss of Cleo. She was beautiful.
I had a hypothyroid cat and had the I-131 procedure performed on him. He gained weight back and was quite chubby in his last few years. The vet that did it said he had successfully treated cats with radioiodine who were as old as 21. But, it was an expensive option and my cat was a mere 14 when he had it done. I think it would be very hard for her to gain without getting the thyroid back on track, but, I’m not a vet. Just my experience.
I have found two brands of cat food that my cats love. I see you are in MN - Chuck and Don’s carry them - Merrick and Weruva. Both are grain free and very palatable.
My cat had the same thyroid problem, and I too did the I-131 treatment for her (like Boscibo). It was expensive (~$1300), but the vet told me that giving her a pill twice a day would cost ~$600-$800 per year. She’s 15, but super healthy, so I did the math and decided it was worth springing for the treatment. (Note: I didn’t check up on these numbers myself. I probably should’ve. But giving her a pill twice a day for the rest of her life really wasn’t ever an option, either. She has pointy ends.)
She’s gained some back, but not much - she’s about 6 pounds right now (down from 9 before the thyroid problem). I’m feeding her Iams hairball formula. The vet says she’s a good weight, but she seems too thin to me.
I have an old kitty and my policy is also “he eats what he wants.” At the moment that is Fancy Feast (the flavors that are grain free - which most of the old style “pate/ground” ones are - its only the flaked/grilled/etc newer styles that have grain) with Authority Sensitive Systems (wheat/corn free). He also gets, from times to time, some cheese or some pure meat babyfood as treats.
Yeah, I know Fancy Feast is not the greatest, but he likes it so… so what. If its good for him and he doesn’t eat it, it’s not good for him.
Ask your vet about using a transdermal gel Methimazole. My Wily had thyroid issues and got to the point where he couldn’t metabolize it the meds properly so we switched to the gel and it helped him absorb it better. Also, I put him on Forti-flora supplement, it helped his g.i health. Basically- I’d let him eat whatever he wants too.
Would a bit of oil from canned tuna be acceptable? And some of the tuna itself of course (make sure these are OK from a sodium etc. standpoint). I suspect Bernie would be pleased with this as a treat
Watch with the kitten chow - I gave some of that to an adult cat, many years back, and it gave him the runs. I theorized that the chow contained milk which the adult cat could no longer digest. May or may not be an issue for you of course.
Thank you all for your responses so far, and please keep them coming.
Boscibo and Snickers: When she was first diagnosed we thought about doing the radioiodine, but it became a toss up - mortgage or treatment. Smokinjbc: We had been doing the transdermal, but that too became cost prohibitive. A 30 day supply ran $65 when a 30 day supply of pills is $18. We went back to pills maybe 5 months ago. We use pill pockets or cream cheese to aid in delivery, but all in all she’s pretty good about pilling. I will be ordering a transdermal scrip for when we’re away during the summer. It’s not fair to the pet sitter to have to pill her (IMO). Zsofia: Last night I was poking around on some “real food” sites and decided we are going to try to make some cat food - IF my brother in law will do it. I can barely trim the fat off a roast let alone mess with organ parts.
I did pick up some chi chi gourmet dog food last night - one plastic tin - can’t remember the name. It was steak / rice / veg. TheKid barely had the cover off of it and Bern had her nose in it. Snarfed it up in minutes.
I will be picking up some Nutrimalt tonight. She also really liked the Halo stews when we could have the food with grains in the house (but she picks out the green beans and peas) so we’ll try that again. We will go easy on the table food other than meats and rice. My sister put aside a few venison ribs for her - for which Bern will probably profess her undying love for Sis and I’ll be just her servant.
Last night was the first night in almost a month that she was “normal”. I’ve never been so happy to be annoyed. I know she’s an old buzzard, and I’ve been her only caregiver since she was like 8 weeks old. She’s had a grand life, and if this doesn’t work, well, I tried to make her life better in the end. I do, in some ways, feel guilty that I was unable to do the same for Cleo.
My brother and his ex used to foster retired greyhounds, who are kept underweight for racing. They found that canned pumpkin was very effective in putting some good weight on the dogs, the dogs LOVED it, and the dogs didn’t get fat on it. If your vet approves, you might try adding a little canned pumpkin to the cat’s diet.
Bernie is indeed extremely old for a cat. When my Midnight was 18, she was starting to get kidney disease. She hated the food that was formulated to keep her healthy, so we talked with the vet a little bit, and decided to just feed her whatever she wanted, and to heck with long term consequences. She had a cancer on her lip, and we couldn’t get it removed because of her medical problems, so we fed her stuff like human baby food (turkey was a big hit) and her regular cat kibble, which she loved. It’s very hard to watch them deteriorate, and hard to know when to let them go. My advice is to feed her the steak and beef broth and whatever she will eat. The most nutritious food in the world won’t help her if she won’t eat it. Make sure that she’s enjoying life. I don’t believe that cats understand the concept of “next week” very well, if they understand it at all, so don’t ask her to suffer now so that she can live longer and suffer longer.
Dogs are omnivores, but a cat is an obligate carnivore. They cannot make much use of vegetables in their diet - if anything the fiber helps them poop but they hardly get calories out of it. You give cats high fiber diets to make them thinner, not to make them fatter.
It’s a week later. She’s 11 ounces fatter as of this morning.
No blood drawn to check her thryoid levels, but she received a “OH! Who’s the smoochy woochie kitty with the tummy wummy??” from the vet tech. The vet tech received a very stern Bernie glare in return.
She’s eating kitten chow, but not very happily. If I put it up for a day then it’s a surprise when I put it back on her mat. She’s okay with the Nutrimalt if it’s on her food. What with the whole pill (versus half pill prior), I don’t want to torment her too much at once by giving it directly to her.
The funniest part of the week - taking her to Petco on her leash to get cat food. People always stop and stare at a cat on a leash, and since she’s SO tiny it occurs even more often. It’s been so long since there was freedom in her food choices it was like a feline buffet. Yeah, cats don’t care, they just want food. Not really. We’re re-discovering what brands she prefers and what she would rather not have. She’s eating 3-4 small cans of food per day.
Now if I could just disabuse her of the idea that 5 is a peachy time to wake me up for breakfast. sigh