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Cat losing weight.

Species: Cat
Breed: Domestic Longhair
Age: 8-11 years
I have had my 10 year-old cat on Tapazole for about a year, but in the past couple of months, she has been losing weight and eating more, the classic symptoms of thyroid disease in cats. So we did a blood test and it came up this way on the key indicators:

T3 was 31 (normal 40-150)
T4 was .5 (normal .8-4.0)
Free T4 was 2.5 (normal 10-50)

So my vet says, that it appears that the Tapazole was doing its job, if anything too well. We looked at other possibilities, including cancer (which my other cat had), but aside from the weight loss, she is exhibiting none of the symptoms the other cat exhibited (vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy). He took a full body X-ray and found nothing out of the ordinary, as well as a CBC and found nothing like diabetes.

Finally, he de-wormed her in case that was the cause. The only significant behavioral change is that she no longer will graze on the dry food left out, and hasn’t for a couple of months. I know that dry food is a key factor in cat obesity, so maybe it’s as simple as that. Thank you!

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Dr. Marie replied:

Hmmm...this is a strange situation. With those thyroid numbers your cat should have a reduced appetite and be gaining weight.

It sounds like your vet is doing all of the same things that I would be doing. There likely is some kind of medical issue, but sometimes it can be hard to pin down. I do have a few thoughts for you though.

You could ask your vet about the possibility of inflammatory bowel disease. While some cats with this condition have diarrhea, others will simply just lose weight and then they are hungry because they are not absorbing their food properly. It would be great to have your vet check Margie's cobalamin and folate levels. Often with inflammatory bowel disease these levels will be out of whack and we can supplement them and cats do well.

Sometimes if I am suspecting inflammatory bowel disease I will put a cat on prednisolone. This helps to decrease inflammation and helps cats to gain weight again.

However the only way to get a for sure diagnosis of IBD is to do intestinal biopsies.

Another idea - Sometimes when we have strange thyroid levels like this it can mean that there is a tumor in the thyroid gland. You could talk to the vet about biopsying her thyroid to see if this is possible.

And then, any time I have a cat who is losing weight and we can't figure out why, I get a little bit worried about cancer. There are some cancers that can be hard to diagnose. I think the xrays were to look for obvious cancers. Sometimes an ultrasound can tell us more...but there is no guarantee.

I hope this helps and I hope we get some answers soon!

Dr. Marie.



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Customer reply:

Thank you---great advice! My vet mentioned IBD as a possibility, too. And, yes, I have been considering an ultrasound to check for cancer.


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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.

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