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Losing weight, not eating.

Species: Cat
Breed: gray striped cat
Age: More than 15 ye
My 16 yr old cat has not been eating and losing weight. The vet has done bloodwork, urine tests and xrays and says nothing is wrong and he is healthy. he is scheduled for a abdominal ultrasound tomorrow. if the ultrasound shows nothing wrong then the vet wants to do dental surgery because he says sam has a lot of cavities and gum disease and it could be causing him not to eat. I have been syringe feeding him baby food for 2 days now and i do not know if i am feeding him enough. he does drink water on his own. how much and how often should i feed him? also is there anyother tests i should ask for before we assume its his teeth and do the surgery? Its not diabetes or thyroid, his kidneys and liver are good, there were no masses on xray and all organs look good.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi.Nancy...I just wanted to let u know I will have a full response to you in about an hour or so. Sorry for the delay!

Dr. Marie

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry for the delay Nancy...I forgot to turn my online status off when I went to the grocery store!

I'm sorry to hear that Sammy is not doing well. It is sometimes a difficult thing to determine why older cats are losing weight and not eating. Your vet is doing the exact same things that I would. In many cases we can find the problem on our bloodwork if we are dealing with kidney disease, liver disease or some other conditions.

When these tests are normal the next thing we start to look for is signs of a mass or cancer somewhere. Sometimes we can see evidence on xrays, but often we need an ultrasound to see this. The xrays also help us determine if there is severe arthritis in the spine as this can cause a cat to not want to eat.

Your vet will do a thorough search on the ultrasound to look for cancer. While many cancers are evident on ultrasound, there are some that can be difficult to diagnose such as lymphosarcoma of the intestines.

If your vet feels that the ultrasound is clear then I think a dental cleaning is a good idea. I have seen cats that are new creatures once their teeth are cleaned and any painful teeth are extracted.

It does sound like your vet has been very thorough. There really aren't any other tests that I would be running if this were my case.

You may want to ask your vet about a medication called Remeron (mirtazipine). This is an appetite stimulant that sometimes helps cats who don't want to eat. It won't cure the problem but it may help his appetite temporarily.

As far as how much to feed him, as long as he is getting some food into him each day this is a good thing. If he is tolerating the baby food then give him as much as he will tolerate.

I hope he does ok!

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

Thank you for a fast response. Sammy had an ultrasound today and unfortunatly its not too good. He has cancer in his liver and spleen. The vet gave him a steriod medication and an appetite stimulant. We have decided not to do chemotherapy on him and to just try to keep him happy and comfortable for as long as we can. Thanks again since you agreed with everything our vet has done it makes me feel that we are doing everything we can.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Nancy...I'm sorry for the bad news. :( I have a similar patient in my clinic right now. Liver cancer is especially hard to deal with. In most cases, palliative care (i.e. doing what we can to keep him comfortable) is the best decision.

It sounds like you have a good vet. Hopefully they will help guide you through the process when it comes time to make some hard decisions.

Dr. Marie

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.