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Meowing and growling cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: Mix
Age: 11-15 years
I am having problems with my 15 year old neutered cat.
She has always been extremely alert and a bit stressed and nothing has ever really helped calm her down.
She likes to be cuddled, but when I do cuddle her she keeps on meowing so loud it sounds like screaming, while she is purring. She finds it hard to lie down and relax, but keeps on walking around on my lap, while purring and meowing and looking really stressed and confused.
It is clear that the noises she makes are not coming from pleasure, it sound like she is stressed and scared, but I have no idea why.
She is not deaf, she always reacts when I call her name.
I spend a lot of time at home with her and feel like I give her a lot of attention. I play with her, cuddle her etc.
I live in a second floor apartment and every now and then she likes to go to the back-yard, but she will most often return to the apartment after a few minutes, only to keep on growling and making screamy noises.
When she has been to the toilet she starts running around, while making growling noises.
She has now started making these noises at night and I feel so sorry for her and also worry about my neighbours waking up as it is so loud that I can hear her, when I am at my front door in the street.
Sometimes when I try to calm her she is very agressive and starts biting and clawing me severely, to the point where I can't even remove my hand.
She has been to the vet about a year ago and was physically healthy.
I hope you can help me.

From Maja in Denmark

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm sorry to hear that Baby is having these problems. Vocalization issues in older cats can sometimes be difficult to figure out. I'll give you a few possible reasons for her symptoms.

Some cats will vocalize like this when they have issues with high blood pressure. I have had several older kitty patients that came in for excessive meowing and we have determined that they had high blood pressure. They usually do really well on a medication (often amlodipine). Some cats with hypertension (high blood pressure) have underlying health problems such as kidney disease or hyperthyroidism that need to be dealt with in order for the blood pressure to come down.

Another possibility is something called cognitive dysfunction. This is a form of senility in cats. While there is no cure for this, some cats do well on medication. Some that I have used include amitriptyline, clomicalm, reconcile and alprazolam. Cognitive dysfunction could account for the aggressive behavior as well.

A pain issue is possible as well. While cats with pain don't usually vocalize a lot, what you are describing with the growling and aggressive behavior makes pain a possibility. Pain could be arthritis pain, dental pain and many other things.

One final possibility is fleas. I have seen a number of cats get really weird behavior issues (especially if you are trying to pet them) in connection to fleas. Fleas can be difficult to find on some animals. If she has any hair loss or lesions over the base of her tail (on her back) then treating her with a prescription flea product is a good idea.

You mentioned that Baby had normal blood tests a year ago. It really would be a good idea to have things checked again as a lot can change in a year. If this were my case I would likely be recommending a physical exam, blood tests, possibly urine tests and a blood pressure check. If we can find a medical reason for her issues then this would be great.

If nothing was obvious on the tests then I would likely try a trial of pain medication such as Metacam for a while and see if her symptoms get any better. And if that didn't work we could try an anti-anxiety medication like one of the ones I mentioned above for cognitive dysfunction.

With all of that being said, I have had some cats with behavior like this where I couldn't find a reason and I couldn't make the problems go away. If you feel that she is uncomfortable (and it does sound to me like she is) then it may be time to be considering euthanasia.

Hopefully the doctor can find something that can be treated!

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.

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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.