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C2002-09

Dear Christopher Cat

My 12-year-old cat, Tasha, is losing weight, despite her huge appetite.  She's indoors all the time, so I know she's not around any other cats to catch something from them.   I've tried many different foods, but she isn't gaining weight.  What can I do?

Christopher Responds

There are many causes of weight loss, so make an appointment with your veterinarian today! 

Tasha may have an overactive thyroid, which would increase her metabolism.  In addition to weight loss, hyperthyroid cats often have a rapid heart beat, a heart murmur and enlarged thyroid glands in the neck.

Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed through a simple blood test which measures the level of thyroid hormone.  Treatment options include anti-thyroid medication, surgery to remove the enlarged thyroid, or radiation therapy to destroy the excessive thyroid tissue.

Another reason Tasha could be losing weight is diabetes mellitus.  Many diabetic cats drink excessively and therefore urinate large amounts, so you may see larger urine clumps in the litter box than you did when she was young. 

Diabetes is diagnosed by finding abnormally high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.  Like hyperthyroidism, diabetes can be managed, so Tasha can enjoy years of good health -- and normal weight.

Heart disease, kidney disease, and even gum pain can also cause weight loss, so it’s important to see your veterinarian so a diagnosis can be made and effective treatment begun.

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