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13 yr old lost weight, is throwing up a lot...

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
My 13 yr old Lulu has been losing weight over the past year. She hit age 13 then instantly became a bony kitty. She was around 10 pounds her entire life up until 12 when she dropped to 9 pounds, now she's somewhere between 7 and 8 pounds. She is eating normally. She has been a barfy kitty her entire life (eating too fast?) but for the past week she's been throwing up several times almost every day. There's usually one with chunks of food, and the rest of the time it is just liquid. I watched her today, she ate her food, about an hour later threw up EVERYTHING, then later drank water, threw up liquid. She's drinking and using the litterbox the same amount. She's getting around fine, she's still chasing and beating the crap out of the younger kitties.

She was last to the vet in late January of this year. She was having problems with her back legs, I thought she might have diabetes so the vet did a urinalysis and everything was fine, turned out she just has arthritis in her hips and was treated for it. She also did a check up and everything was fine. I'm known to be a hypochondriac with my cats- combined they've been there 8 times so far this year and every time it turned out nothing was actually wrong with them... now I lost my job and can't afford much more than cat food (they are eating better than I am!) and people food so I'm wondering if this is something I should take her to the vet for immediately, or if I can wait and see if she improves.

I've completely freaked myself out by looking up "senior cat throwing up" and every result says hyperthyroidism- but the last time I did this in Jan all her symptoms pointed to diabetes and that wasn't right... like I said, I'm a hypochondriac when it comes to my cats. I don't want to spend $50+ that I don't have to be told that she is just eating too much too fast (again. this has happened before to my one yr old cat)

So... does anyone else have this problem with their cat? Any advice at all?
post #2 of 52

Did the Vet check her for kidney disease? I had a cat that started vomiting and lost a tremendous amount of weight. The Vet initially thought it was a sensitive stomach but turned out to be kidney disease. Our Vet charges $21 to check the BUN which will show a problem with kidneys. 

 

If you can't afford the test, you can try adding more moisture to her diet - especially if she is losing fluids by vomiting. What are you feeding her?

post #3 of 52
I'd lead off with the same question - what does she eat?

My Lazlo started having a problem - I thought with hairballs: a lot of vomiting, losing weight. This went on for close to a year, when bloodwork FINALLY revealed anemia (it had been normal prior to that). He was treated with an antibiotic and steroids and sent home. He seemed better at first - and then really started dropping weight fast and living under the living room chair. We did x-rays at that point, and a massive tumor was found in his stomach. It turned out to be cancerous - it came with bleeding ulcers, thus the anemia. In January of 2011 he had x-rays and blood work done -everything was normal. At the end of July of 2011, he was given 4 weeks to live. We opted for chemotherapy, and he is still with us, and at least so far, in remission. smile.gif

I share this not to scare you, because it may be something as "simple" as IBD. But in a senior cat, blood work every six months is the same as blood work in a person every year given the rate at which they "age."

I'm so sorry you lost your job. hugs.gif

Let's start with her food, and see if perhaps she's developed an issue with what she's eating. Senior kitties need a high protein diet, as they're prone to muscle wasting as it is. agree.gif It could be that she's not digesting food properly (our bodies become less efficient as we age) - and she may have a pile of hairballs in there. dontknow.gif It's just so hard to know - and unfortunately, imaging is expensive. Yet when bloodwork doesn't reveal an answer as to why a senior kitty is losing weight, the only real alternatives are either diet trial and error, or imaging /endoscopy / biopsy to see if it's cancer or IBD, because those are the primary culprits when blood work doesn't have an answer. frown.gif

vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif
post #4 of 52
Thread Starter 
I don't think she did. She just did the urinalysis to check for diabetes. I will have to ask them to check it when I do take her in. I was planning (before this happened) on taking her in for her yearly check up after Thanksgiving since we're having "Early Christmas" and I'll get money from that.

She's eating Purina indoor cat chow - it is the ONLY thing she will eat. My other cats eat Blue Buffalo but she has refused every single healthy food brand out there. I've tried hiding it with her food but she knows it's there and won't touch it. She went on a hunger strike when I tried switching her, she's a stubborn old lady. She also gets wet food and tuna treats.

LDG that's great that your cat is doing good! I know someone who spent over 20k on her 2 yr old cat who had cancer, she was cured but it kept coming back and she had to eventually be put down. Since it has been so long hopefully that means it is gone for good! I'm definitely going to get blood work done... she's so bad at the vet though. It's so hard just to get her into the carrier. When I took her last she could barely walk but she still refused to sit on the table and kept trying to run away >.< .

I'm going to watch her eating over the next day or so and add more water to her wet food and see if that helps. If not... guess she's going to the vet.
post #5 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by lizzimi View Post

She also gets wet food and tuna treats.
 

 

Can you eliminate the dry food, and just feed her wet food? What is the wet food that she eats?

 

Would definitely be a good idea to get a senior blood panel done. It should include a T4 test, but make sure to confirm that with the vet.

post #6 of 52
Please take your cat to the vet, before making any more guesses. January was almost a year ago. A senior cat's health can change in one month, let alone 11 months. Kidney failure doesn't show up in the blood tests until the kidneys are 75% gone. This does not mean, if she is in kidney failure, that there are not things that can be done to give her a good quality of life for a long time to come. The same goes for many other things that could be causing the weight loss and vomiting. The sooner she is properly diagnosed, the better her chances.

But, your kitty needs the vet and blood work, now.
post #7 of 52
Thread Starter 
I give her Friskies- not pate kind because it has always made her instantly barf, again it's the only wet food she'll eat >.< she's so picky. I can afford to switch her to just wet food.

I'll ask the vet when I take her about the T4 test thanks!
post #8 of 52

You should not have to ask for a specific test. The weight loss is major enough that I'm sure they will want a complete blood panel done. Be warned that it is not cheap (mine is ~$250) but will tell the Vet all sorts of stuff. It should have both the T4 and BUN levels as well as other things. The problem at this point is that weight loss and vomiting can be symptoms of lots of things - just like in people. If you can't afford the blood work, the Vet can probably make a best guess based on what they see in the exam and what you tell them. All the things you have mentioned here should be shared with the Vet regardless. 

 

The vomiting probably has her dehydrated and in need of fluids. Make sure she is drinking water. If you can find a wet food she can hold down, that would be great until she sees the Vet.

 

Good luck and keep us posted

post #9 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by lizzimi View Post

it's the only wet food she'll eat >.< she's so picky. 

 

Pickiness in cats is to their evolutionary advantage (helps them avoid toxic substances in the "wild"), but that doesn't mean it can't be overcome. How you introduce a new food is extremely important. Just plopping down a bowl of something a cat has never tried before doesn't tend to be met with much success in many cases. Usually a very gradual incorporation with repeat exposure to the smell of the new food (sometimes over many weeks) is often required.  There are some great tips at these links on how to go about transitioning cats over to healthier foods:

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/03/10/how-to-transition-your-cat-to-raw-food-diet-part-1.aspx

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/03/17/how-to-transition-your-cat-to-raw-food-diet-part-2.aspx

 

 

Good luck with the blood work! Do let us know what the results are.

 

 

 
post #10 of 52
Thread Starter 
She has started drinking a lot of water in the past couple hours. No more barf so far.

I'm going to make an appointment tomorrow. Hopefully they can get me in before Tues, I'm a college student and I have classes tues-thurs. When I had her urinalysis done it was because I couldn't afford the blood test - the vet had suggested I do that because it was a lot cheaper. I think she had said the blood test was around $150 so I will have one done if the vet thinks it's best. Lulu is already being grumpy because she's hearing the word "vet" being thrown around, this should be fun!

How long does it usually take to get the blood test results back?

Thanks for the links Sugarcatmom! I think her things is that she got ahold of the other cat's food one day, she ate a few bites, and then threw it all up. I think she's avoiding it because of that happening. I shall try though!
post #11 of 52
Thread Starter 
I looked on my vets website- of course I just missed "senior wellness month" so I could've gotten a discount >.< anyway- the blood tests include:

Blood Chemistry – This checks various enzymes, liver and kidney values, and a blood glucose level as well. The following are checked in the Blood Chemistry:
• Albumin (ALB)
• Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)
• Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP
• Amylase (AMYL)
• Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
• Calcium
• Cholesterol (CHOL)
• Creatinine (CREA)
• Blood Glucose (GLU)
• Phosphorus (PHOS)
• Total Bilirubin (TBIL)
• Total Protein (TP)

It lists T4 as a separate test.

It says the urinalysis would have shown kidney and liver disease too, so as of January (which was forever ago, I know) she was fine in that area. I wonder if a T4 and urinalysis would be enough to determine what is wrong with her. I'm really broke right now. I wonder how much a T4 cost, the urinalysis last time was like $40.
post #12 of 52

I have had the same issue with Hoot.  She's 15 and the past year she's been dropping weight and vomiting.  I have seriously had every possible test run on her both by my vet and the vet school at Columbia.  The only thing they have found after thousands of dollars of testing is that she had a minor bladder infection.  I was losing my mind over it.  The concensus among the experts is that Hoot is having some arthritic issues due to her severe injuries sustained as a kitten.  We got rid of her bladder infection and I'm giving her hip and joint supplements.  She is skinny but happy and pain free.  She has even started to sneak up on the kitchen counter which she hasn't done in years.  I think the hip and joint supplement is helping with her mobility a bit.  Other than that, I've been told that weight loss in senior cats is not uncommon and as long as her testing, Xrays etc. reveal nothing, I should stop worrying.  That is just what I've been going through with her. 
 

post #13 of 52

The blood work could take a couple of days depending on if it is sent to a lab or done in-house. My vet does some stuff in-house but the complete panel is sent out.

 

By all means, ask for the Senior Wellness Month discount. They may understand your situation and it is good business practice, especially for a returning customer. If they offered it a week ago...

post #14 of 52
Thread Starter 
Maybe they can give me the discount still, I'm 21 and the vet sometimes gives me a break (or at least offers cheaper treatment options) since she knows I don't have a lot of money and my mother contributes nothing. I called my mom last night to tell her that Lulu is sick (she's on vacation) and the only thing she said was "she better not throw up on my poor rug or couch! I'm sick of your cats!" then immediately started bragging about her vacation. I'm beyond annoyed with her.

Lulu has arthritis in her hips and also in her front paws, she broke her paw a few years ago so she's been having problems with that foot. I'm hoping that it could be just connected to the arthritis somehow but I'm going to get the tests done just to make sure. I bought the GNC hip & joint supplement yesterday and she took one and seemed to like it at least (it's in treat form), But now she's not eating anything.

This morning she threw up liquidy food colored stuff. She's now sleeping and is grumpy. She's refusing to eat anything, even her tuna treats. In Jan she was refusing to eat and had been throwing up which is when I took her in for her check up, I hope she's okay... The vet has like no hours today (only open until 12 and it's 11 here) and they are closed tomorrow. I made an appointment through the "Pet Portal" last night so I should be getting in on Monday.
post #15 of 52

I would stay away from the supplement until she sees the vet. If you can get to a store, try Gerber's 2nd food baby food. Make sure it's the 2nd food which has no spices (onions/garlic). The chicken flavor seems to be a hit. The important thing over the weekend is to keep her hydrated and try to get her to eat something.

 

http://www.gerber.com/sitter/products/puree_baby_food/2nd_foods_meats_chicken.aspx

post #16 of 52
Thread Starter 
I wish I could get her to eat anything! I even brought out her favorite treat- freeze dried chicken breast. She just sniffs it and looks away. I was going to go out to the store today... I gave up. I live in a tiny town. The speed limit is luckily 25... I was driving down the street, which was completely empty except for this old lady standing on the side of the road. She was just standing there, staring, but I slowed down a little. She still was just standing there... then she made eye contact with me when I was in a few feet of her, then ran DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF MY CAR! I almost hit her! I had been going slower because she was staring at me so luckily I wasn't even going 25 but my brakes didn't stop in time so I had to swerve and almost went into a pole. She just happily gave me the "thank you" hand signal and walked back to where she was. So I'm too shaken up to leave the house... I thought having to watch out for deer and feral cats was bad enough! I'm going to go tomorrow though no matter who I almost squish with my car. I'll pick up the baby food while I'm there.

She is drinking now though. She still won't eat, but at least she's drinking? She has thrown up just liquid three times today, so she probably is afraid to eat. Why are vets closed Sundays?! >.
post #17 of 52
Please call your vet's phone number and find out who is on call for emergencies, or go to an ER clinic if there is one available. Cats cannot go more than a day or two without eating before they become extremely ill, the liver is the first organ to shut down. it is called fatty liver disease (feline hepatic lipidosis). The vomiting is causing her to be dehydrated which will affect her kidneys.

In my opinion this is an emergency, your cat needs to be seen if not right away, no later than tomorrow morning, but I would find a way to get her seen tonight. I am not trying to be over dramatic here, but I think Monday will be much too late.

All paws crossed for her.
post #18 of 52
Thread Starter 
She's eating! After sleeping for hours she came and sat on me and I tried giving her a tuna treat, she was trying to ignore it but gave in and ate it. She still wasn't eating but I tried the purebites dehydrated chicken breast- the only thing that worked last time she stopped eating- and she ate them! So I gave her a bunch of those and she started acting normal again, she went out in the kitchen and was begging for wet food so I gave her a little and she almost all of it! Then she was staring at the empty paper bag I had on the table so I put it on the floor and now she's sleeping in it in a ball. No more barf so far, she's been drinking a bunch and used litterbox fine. I'm hoping she'll continue to be okay until Monday. My vet is the only one within 20+ miles that even has a website. I live in a rural area so most of the vets only deal with livestock animals. I don't know of anywhere nearby that does emergencys.
post #19 of 52
I'm so glad she's gotten something into her! I would continue to offer her little amounts of canned food every hour or so. Just a teaspoon at a time. Maybe add a teaspoon of warm water to help hydrate her too.
Edited by otto - 11/10/12 at 4:26pm
post #20 of 52

Good!  So glad she eaten something!  Keep us updated if you can!
 

post #21 of 52
Thread Starter 
No barf in over 24 hours! She ate tons of the Pure Bite treats yesterday and almost an entire can (5.5 oz) of wet food. So far today she has ate almost one can of wet food and more of the dehydrated chicken treats, she refuses to eat dry food though. I guess she has put herself on an all wet food diet. She's sleeping a lot. Hopefully I can get her in tomorrow. It's so annoying having to wait for a vet to be open >.<<br />
Lulu is my forum icon now!
post #22 of 52

Glad you're taking her to the Vet tomorrow.  

 

As she's a senior kitty, the most common issues in senior cats are: diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease -- which can all cause vomiting, weight loss.

 

Ensure the Vet has a good look at her teeth and gums, too......a bad tooth or major gum disease can cause cat to not want to eat (and you mention kitty no longer wants to eat dry food) and untreated can lead to kidney disease.

 

And yes, testing for hyperthyroidism is often a separate test that you have to request.   Just to note........if I was you I would request a "FREE T4" be done instead of just the regular T4 as Free T4 is a lot more accurate and sensitive in senior cats (whereas a basic T4 in a senior cat can often come back 'normal' even though cat does have hyperthyroidism).

 

Ensure that a Urinalysis is done as well as that provides valuable info re:  kidney disease and the whether the kidneys are concentrating urine well.   Helps show if sugar in urine, or blood (sign of UTI). 

 

Ensure electrolytes are also done with bloodwork, particularly Potassium....as all of the vomiting and lack of food your kitty has had can lead to low levels of potassium which is critical to treat with vet prescribed supplementation (low levels can directly impact muscle function, including the heart which is a muscle, and can cause lethargy, hindleg weakness, constipation, lack of appetite).

post #23 of 52
So glad to hear Lulu is eating and keeping it down. Thanks for keeping us updated. Such a pretty girl.

vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif Lulu heartpump.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_food_lady View Post

Glad you're taking her to the Vet tomorrow.  

As she's a senior kitty, the most common issues in senior cats are: diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease -- which can all cause vomiting, weight loss.

Ensure the Vet has a good look at her teeth and gums, too......a bad tooth or major gum disease can cause cat to not want to eat (and you mention kitty no longer wants to eat dry food) and untreated can lead to kidney disease.

And yes, testing for hyperthyroidism is often a separate test that you have to request.   Just to note........if I was you I would request a "FREE T4" be done instead of just the regular T4 as Free T4 is a lot more accurate and sensitive in senior cats (whereas a basic T4 in a senior cat can often come back 'normal' even though cat does have hyperthyroidism).

Ensure that a Urinalysis is done as well as that provides valuable info re:  kidney disease and the whether the kidneys are concentrating urine well.   Helps show if sugar in urine, or blood (sign of UTI). 

Ensure electrolytes are also done with bloodwork, particularly Potassium....as all of the vomiting and lack of food your kitty has had can lead to low levels of potassium which is critical to treat with vet prescribed supplementation (low levels can directly impact muscle function, including the heart which is a muscle, and can cause lethargy, hindleg weakness, constipation, lack of appetite).

yeah.gifyeah.gif
post #24 of 52
Thread Starter 

My vet doesn't have any openings until Thursday! Luckily there are 3 other vets in the same building, so I'm going to try to get in with them, but she's the cat specialist. I got an email just as I was about to call them when they opened and am waiting to hear back again. So frustrating! Last night she scared the crap out of me. I'm actually feeling really sick right now. She literally has me worried sick. She was eating great yesterday, then at night got up and threw up everything she had eaten, then threw up liquid a few times. She then fell asleep on a chair and was being unresponsive. That's where she was when I went to sleep. Now she appears to be fine again! She woke up my mother and forced her to give her treats (which is bad if she's going to get testing done right? aren't they supposed to fast?) and she's walking around, playing with the other kitties... The vet better have an opening!

post #25 of 52
Vets leave openings in their schedules for emergencies. Instead of using e mail, call the office and tell them you have an emergency. Lulu definitely needs to be seen today. the blood work needs to be done and fluids will help her feel much better. All paws crossed for her.
post #26 of 52
Thread Starter 

Got her in! At 2:30! Yay! I don't know the vet now but whatever. 
 

I'm in NJ near where the hurricane hit so I think they are still really busy with people bringing in their pets from that... but yay I got in!

post #27 of 52
vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif Lulu

Please keep us posted
post #28 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_food_lady View Post

 

And yes, testing for hyperthyroidism is often a separate test that you have to request.   Just to note........if I was you I would request a "FREE T4" be done instead of just the regular T4 as Free T4 is a lot more accurate and sensitive in senior cats (whereas a basic T4 in a senior cat can often come back 'normal' even though cat does have hyperthyroidism).

 

 

Just a quick comment on the Free T4 test: it should not actually replace a Total T4 test, but be run in conjunction with it. It also costs quite a bit more than just the Total T4, so that might be a consideration for someone on a budget. Where the Free T4 test comes in handy is when a cat has normal Total T4 values (which have either been suppressed by another illness like say diabetes or kidney disease, or the hyperthyroidism is mild or in an early stage) but the cat is still exhibiting the signs of having hyperT. So a Total T4 test is still the best place to start, and then a Free T4 may need to be run depending on those results. Doing just a Free T4 without a Total T4 for comparison can return false positive results. More info here: Confirming the Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Serum Free T4 Concentrations

 

post #29 of 52
Thread Starter 

Ugh! I thought since my vet was out I'd have one of the other nice lady vets.. Turns out they all took off. I had this awful male substitute vet (he doesn't work there normally, I didn't know they had any men on staff ever) He was totally worthless. He came in and right from the start was talking down to me, and it obvious that he totally didn't like cats... he goes "So she's like 13, 14" I'm like... it says it on her chart! He reads off the symptoms I told the tech about and is like "So like, do you consider her throwing up to be weird". I'm like. ... "yeah... she throws up randomly but not every day for days in a row".  I mentioned her weight loss and he's like "Oh she's only had one appointment here. Earlier this year" -said in tone like I never take her to the vet, I just switched to this one earlier this year- "What was her weight before you brought her here earlier this year." "10 pounds". 

 

This is the part I wanted to kick him in the head. In January Lulu weighed over 9 pounds. She has lost 1.5 pounds since then and is barely 8 pounds now. He goes

 

"Oh, so her weight hasn't really changed since then". And totally dismisses my concern over her weight. That's a lot for her! She only weighed 9 pounds to begin with! He then states that "throwing up could mean anything" -lists horrible diseases in nonchalant tone- "So we're going to have to run a number of tests, starting with blood and xrays and if those don't show anything we're going to have to run more tests". I tell him I don't have a lot of money (I'm obviously young, I didn't go with a parent, he really should've that). He rolls his eyes and leaves the room, coming back with the prices. The xrays were way too much money so I opted for just the bloodwork. He left without a word and never came back, a tech came and got her blood and then I checked out. No advice on how to make her eat, no expressing concern or anything. This is why I hate male vets!!! The woman I see is a total cat lover and is very very nice to me and my  cats, explains everything clearly, gives me all my options... Not this dude. Gah! The CHECK OUT lady gave me more info than he did! The blood test includes urinalysis and fecal!!! He didn't say anything about what it included! He seemed shocked when I asked him about the T4 he had this look like "she knows what she is talking about?!" 

 

Sorry I have to rant. I'm so annoyed. Lulu was a very bad kitty for him. She doesn't even like the lady vet that much but this guy didn't know how to handle a cat at all. He gave up on trying to open her mouth. My vet has no problems with her. He was struggling just to get her heart beat. I would have preferred just the tech to do everything, she did more for me than this dude did. Ugh ugh! 

 

So anyway, I'm getting the results back tomorrow. The blood test, which includes T4 and also a urinalysis and fecal examination apparently, was 117$ which is a lot cheaper than I thought it would be. It's labeled "senior screening" so I guess they bundle all of it together, because I was told in Jan that just a blood test would cost me $150. I have to get the urine and stool sample in within a month. That should be fun to get! 

 

Lulu isn't eating again, she's too PO'ed right now. This is normal for her though, she never eats for a few hours following a vet visit. 

 

I hope they call in the morning because I have school tomorrow. I have so much stuff due. I'm so stressed out. 

post #30 of 52
Thread Starter 

and I misplaced my bag. I hope I didn't leave it at school on Thursday. It has my wallet in it. The bank was closed so I couldn't take out money but luckily I have a jar of money for situations like this. So stressed. 

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