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Give thyroid medicine?

Species: Cat
Breed: domestic short hair
Age: More than 15 ye
Hi there,
I live in a remote northern community and we do not have a vet here. My 17-yr-old cat has been acting today like she may have a urinary tract infection. She was squatting all over the house trying to pee but only getting a little out, she pooped on the floor, her appetite was poor in the morning. Then she eventually was able to get a decent pee out in her litter and she seemed to be doing better. Later in the afternoon she threw up and had a very loose bowel movement. Now she is resisting eating and going to her litter box but not peeing. She's also drinking quite a bit of water but only when fresh water is presented. She also started taking thyroid pills a few months ago and recently increased her dosage (about 1 month ago). When we increased her dosage we gave her half pills in the morning and evening but for the last few days we switched and gave her a whole pill at night. I mention this because I wonder if it's contributing anything.

Anyhow, I may be able to contact a vet tomorrow afternoon who could send a prescription for antibiotics if it seems like a UTI but what I'm wondering tonight is - should I give her her thyroid medicine tonight or should we skip it until we know the situation?

Thank you in advance,

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that Fern is uncomfortable.

I have several clients who have moved up North and I understand how difficult it is for you, not having a vet readily available!

There are a few things that can cause a cat to strain to urinate like Fern is. The good news is that she is a female cat so that makes a serious urethral blockage very unlikely.

The most common reason for a female cat to strain to urinate is something called interstitial cystitis. We don't know why cats get this but it is like having a stomach ulcer in the bladder. The good news, if it is interstitial cystitis is that it often will go away on its own within a couple of days. If I diagnose this I often will prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication, but this is something you really can't give without having some tests done first to make sure there is not another issue.

A UTI is possible as well. We actually don't see a lot of UTIs in cats. However, in an older cat, it is a little more likely.

Now, let's talk about the thyroid medication. These symptoms are extremely unlikely to be related to the thyroid medicine. I would definitely keep giving her regular dose of medication. As an aside, it is much better to go back to giving the medication twice daily. Most cats do much much better at keeping their thyroid regulated if they are on twice daily dosing rather than once daily.

If we stopped giving her her medication this will cause her thyroid level to increase which will increase the stress on her body, increase her blood pressure and can have other negative effects.

If you do have access to a vet at all, it would be great to have some repeat bloodwork done on her just to make sure her thyroid level is correct and also to make sure that there are no kidney issues. Some cats, after starting on thyroid medication can develop kidney problems. It's not that the medication is harmful to the kidneys, but rather, the thyroid problem sometimes masks kidney issues and once we correct the thyroid then the real kidney problem can surface.

Kidney disease would not cause straining though (unless she has a kidney infection) but it could cause the increase in thirst.

I hope this helps and I hope she feels better soon!

I will be online for about another 10 minutes tonight, so if you have more questions just let me know. Or, I will be back on in the morning.

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.

Customer reply:

Thank you sooo much! I can't tell you what a relief it is to feel like you are out there ready to help. I'm going to go ahead with the thyroid meds for tonight then. We have a visiting vet coming at the end of the month and I'll ask for tests on her thyroid and her kidneys.

I really appreciate your help!
Have a great night,

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome! I hope all goes well!

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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.