Older cat problems - Is there something I can do to save my cat? Vets, cat experts...

I have an older cat. He has always been very adaptable, he has moved with me five times. He adjusted from being indoor/outdoor to only indoor. Lately though, he has been demonstratiing some never before seen problems -

  1. he is urinating outside the little box, on dirty clothes, hockey equipment (boy was my DH happy abou that) and (we think) in the basement

  2. He leaves the room to run in the basement and meow at the top of his lungs until one of us calls to him?

  3. he is scratching the furniture, he had never had this problem before

Does anyone have any ideas? I am taking him to see the vet this week to see if there anything physical going on.

please don’t suggest anything jokey here, I’ve had this cat since i was fourteen, so i really love him, but with the baby coming in January, I can’t really take a lot of chances if he’s losing his mind.

Thanks in advance…:slight_smile:

The vet trip sounds good. Urinating outside the litter box in a cat who was previously trained is often a sign of urinary tract/kidney problems.

The going to the basement and meowing is something I have had cats do before, and I have no idea why they do it. They just go to some room far away and then howl like they are lonely. When I call them, they usually come to me with this "where were you? expression. I didn’t go anywhere, you silly cat, you did.

Hmmmm…scratching furniture is a way to mark it as his territory. Any reason he might be doing that?

I am interested in your statement about with a baby coming, you can’t take chances he is losing his mind. Do you mean harm the baby? In that case, you can calm down. Even if he is becoming senile, he won’t do anything to hurt a baby.

Total guess is Uniary tract infection. Very common in male cats. Is they’ll end up pissing where they can… and it hurts them, hence the meowing all the time. Is his pee “small” amounts? Or great big puddles?

Regardless, a trip to the vet is in order. If it is UTI, it is quite treatable. Spud (or 9 y.o. Tabby) has had it a couple of times. He shouldn’t at all anymore as we have him on food that keeps the crystals from forming now.

That really sounds like a urinary tract problem - don’t put off the vet trip, I had a male cat almost die from a urinary tract blockage because I was too stupid to recognize the signs.

I had a male cat that did die from a UTI. Well, technically, he died because the vet put him to sleep, but it was because when we got to him, it was already too late. We’d been gone for a couple of days for the Christmas holidays and when we got back, we saw he was walking odd and couldn’t pee. We took him to the vet as an emergency trip that evening and he didn’t come home with us.

The leaving the room thing may be nothing at all. It could just be a weird habit he suddenly picked up. My cats add and drop strange habits all the time.

I’ll join the chorus of people advising a trip to the vet to check out a UTI. However, the impending arrival of a sibling can cause an older cat to behave oddly. Chances are that everyone else in the household has been acting strangely, too, and he’s bound to feel it.

My oldest child had two older feline siblings and an older canine one. They all adjusted to her arrival pretty well, although the younger of the two cats was mightily offended when the day came that he no longer fit on my ever-shrinking lap and something kept bumping him when he tried to sleep on the giant stomach instead.

older cats sometimes have problems digesting protein in red meat, leading to UTI and kidney problems.

if he’s acting funny it might be because of a fever from the UTI or just distress at having soiled the house.

changing diets worked well for 5 years for our cat (who was 14 1/2 when he was put down on saturday) until congestive heart failure took him.

One more symptom I forgot about, he’s been throwing up too. Not hairballs, food.

I’m taking him in Wednesday morning. Wish us luck. Poor kitty.

I would try to get him in sooner - but if he is still able to get pee out, it might wait til Wed. When my cat had the blockage, he threw up too - right before I took him in. The vet told me if I had waited, he would have died. I don’t want to panic you, but I would be ultra worried. It is a horrible memory for me, because I realized later how much pain my cat had been in. He was running up and down the hall (I didn’t have a basement) and meowing. When he started throwing up was when I brought him to the vet - I didn’t recognize the signs, but I knew someting was terribly wrong.

We recently lost our eight year old cat to kidney failure. He had his annual check up with shots and the vet said he looked very well, ten days later he died. The vet said a cat could go a long time with the kidneys working at only 25%. Has your cat lost weight? Is he urinating more frequently? Does he want to drink more? We didn’t recognize any symptoms until it was too late, and now we’re saying “so that’s why…” Please let us know what the vet says, Good Luck.

Okay, I took him in yesterday afternoon. The vet checked hi bladder, which, although was apparently tender (the cat freaked out) was not especially large.

Next, they took a urine sample. They found very few crystal fragments (so no UTI), very little blood (so he is straining, but no kidney problems) and hardly any bacteria. So basically the sample really pointed at not much of anything. She gave me some anti-inflammatories in case he has a mild case lower infection and to help him stop straining.

Next test is his thyroid, but it will have to wait until next pay day.

The vet seems kind of at a loss to explain what’s up with him.

Last March our cat was having some of the same symtoms as yours [missing the litter box (although usually around the litter box and not around the house), vomiting, and a lot more meowing] along with weight loss. An X-ray showed a lot of fluid in her body cavity. The vet’s diagnosis was feline infectious peritonitous (sp?), which she said would probably be fatal withing 2 months. Well, she just had her 17th birthday a couple of weeks ago and isn’t any worse (and maybe a little better) than she was in March. She doen’t seem to be in any pain and still enjoys her cat treats and napping on your lap and such.

From this experience I came away with the feeling that it is hard to make an accurate diagnosis sometimes, even when there is evidence of a specific problem. Your case is even more difficult since there were no obvious problems found during the visit to the vet. We probably will never know if it is a specific ailment causing our cat’s problems other than “old age”. At this point she will be with us as long as she seems happy and not in pain. Good luck.

A tender bladder, crystals, and blood in the urine could very well be the problem. Cats are very sensitive to stuff, and since they can’t tell you it hurts when they pee, their pain often manifests itself as what humans consider bad behavior. I hope the medicines clear anything he might have up, and he gets back to normal.

AAAARGH! I can commiserate – my cat peed all over my apartment last night!

And that was after he’d returned from the vet! Dammit!

He is not blocked – that’s not possible, he had some serious surgery last year to shorten his urethra which widens the opening (TMI WARNING FOR THE SQUEAMISH: They chopped off his wee-wee.)

He doesn’t have a fever, not a drop of blood in the urine. He’s peeing like a race-horse and doesn’t seem constipated anymore (which is why he went to the vet’s yesterday), but he’s still “scooting” and trying to wash “the area.”

The vet is going to call me back soon. Perhaps it is a bladder infection andhe needs some kind of anti-spasmatic (sometimes infected bladders do funky crampy things).

I spent the morning cleaning up pee! And he went on my expensive wool rug!!! (I wisely rolled it up when we got back from the vet – he peed on the backing.)

You said the vet checked his urine and that’s how they determined no kidney problems? Have them run a blood test to check his BUN and Creatine (?sp) levels. That is what will tell you if his kidneys are functioning properly.

Apologising for the lengthy reply…
Hi Poysyn. You don’t mention how old your older cat is. It does sound as if he is having behavior issues, possibly related to stress and/or illness. Bear in mind that illness and discomfort are stressful to animals (who cannot just rationalise it away, like, “Oh, that’s just my trick knee aching, it’ll be fine in a day so I’ll ignore it now” - all they know is it hurts and they can’t escape it.) So if your vet doesn’t find anything on thyroid testing (an excellent idea, since hyperthyroidism is fairly common in older cats and can cause behavioral changes, not to mention weight loss and hypertension and a variety of other problems), you might ask her to run a general health or geriatric screen. Several people have correctly pointed out that urniary tract problems can cause the cat to start avoiding the box (if it hurts when I pee in that box, I’ll just go pee somewhere else). However, there are other possibilities, which the blood screens will be a step toward ruling in or out.

(BTW, I’d like to go on record again to mention that urinary tract infections are NOT common in males cats, but are in females, and urinary tract obstruction, which is life-threatening and is a bona-fide, get me up at 2 A.M. and 40 below zero in an Alaskan January EMERGENCY, is just the opposite - common in males, rare in females.)

Reasons not to use the litter box include (besides urinary tract disorders) problems with the substrate (is the box cleaned frequently, and is the litter type one the cat prefers? Most cats like the clumping types best, but not all); problems with the box location or style (is it a covered box? one with a high edge? sufficiently roomy for an older and less-flexible cat? in a pleasant and accessable location for the cat? any changes - items moved away from or near to the box? new traffic pattern related to the box?); number of boxes or other animals in the house (the rule of thumb is one more box than you have cats in the house, and be aware that other animals, if present, may have begun ambushing this cat in his morning toilette, causing him to move elsewhere for his ablutions); household changes that are upsetting the cat’s sense of routine and security (such as schedule changes, new pets or people in the environment, old ones missing from the environment, construction/remodelling, packing or unpacking things, and even new animals in the neighborhood - they’re often aware of new animlas in the outdoor environment, even if they’re never outdoors). Covered litterboxes are a pain for a lot of cats, and if the edge is high and has to be stepped over, a cat with a little bit of ‘ouchy’ in the joints may prefer not to get into it, especially on first rising from a rest, when they are stiffest. Those cats often urinate next to the box - they know where to go, but they just can’t comfortably get in.

As for the meowing and clawing, that may be related to distress for physical reasons as well as psychological ones… if your cat is painful or ill, that may be a lot of it. Alternatively, he may be aware of the baby-related changes in the household and be feeling anxious (in which case some extra TLC will probably go a long way). We do see senility in cats, and there are some options for treatment for that and also for pain (be VERY careful not to give any painkillers to your cat unless the vet says to! cats can be killed by over the counter people meds!) There is a spray called Feliway that your vet may carry or be able to order… that’s used to decrease stress (it’s an analog of the pheromone that cats produce when they are content, and signals the brain that it’s time to be content now). We spray it in the cages of some of our pre-surgical cats who are stressing out. Seems to help, and some clients have reported good results.

You might also inquire, if all the bloods are normal, about whether or not Xrays would be helpful in tracking down underlying health problems, and whether or not there is a veterinary behaviorist in your area. A behaviorist will want the cat to have had a full medical workup, but some problems truly are behavioral and not medical.

Good luck with this… the longer you have them the more they’re part of the family, so I hope you and your vet are able to find a happy solution. And congratulations on your impending addition! An exciting and busy time for you right now; hopefully the kitty issues can be swiftly and happily laid to rest so you can concentrate on the fun parts.

If the cat does indeed have Feline Urinary Syndrome, a low ash diet from here on out may save a LOT of pain and heartache for years to come.

We had a dear cat who had FUS, almost lost him a few times ( thank you, Animal Medical Center of NYC ! ). He lived to age 19, incredibly.

Best of luck with your feline family member, as well as the impending human one :wink:



Do keep us posted on your dear kitty.

Both of my older babies (they’re littermates and are 16 1/2 years old) have diabetes. This can cause a definite change in their habits, both litterbox and otherwise. (vomiting, “howling” etc.)

We’ve managed to keep their diabetes under control via blood glucose testing and adjusting their diets. I have an ongoing Rx for needles and insulin at my local WalMart… but we haven’t needed insulin for quite a while now. Used it in the beginning to get the blood glucose down, and the diet has done the rest.

(I’m pretty good at giving shots and subcutaneous fluids… :slight_smile: )

Hope all turns out okay for you and your furbaby.