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Elderly cat not eating.

Species: Cat
Breed: tortoiseshell
Age: 11-15 years
my cat is elderly, arthritic and diabetic - but very lovely :)

she was diagnosed on thursday with an upper respiratory tract infection and has antibiotic tablets.

she was not right but not too bad...but this evening has got worse. she does not want to eat (even off my hand) and so i have not injected her. it is very unusual for her not to want to eat.

i don't want to take her to the vet unless i have to (jouney etc is traumatic).

i feel that she is very unwell - how do i decide if she is unwell (but might get better) or is unwell and should be put out of her suffering? what can i do to help?





Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that Tootsie is having these issues. In my opinion, any time that a cat does not want to eat then there is something serious going on.

There is a chance that this is all due to a respiratory virus. Perhaps there is a secondary infection that needs a different kind of antibiotic than the one given. If there is a fever then this can cause an appetite loss. If this was the case, it's possible that a change in antibiotics could make a difference.

However, the more serious worry that I have is that the upper respiratory tract infection is secondary to something else. In an elderly cat, if the immune system is struggling with something else such as cancer or liver or kidney disease, etc. then they can be more susceptible to infections. When I see an elderly animal who is struggling with recovering from a mild infection then I really do get worried that there is something serious going on.

Another possibility is if the diabetes is out of control. If this is the case, then this could be a treatable condition. I'm concerned about a condition called DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) where sugar levels get really out of whack.

Has Tootsie had blood tests? Often bloodwork can determine if there is an illness that is serious enough to consider euthanasia.

If tests are normal, then an xray may be in order to determine if what we thought was an upper respiratory tract infection is actually a cancer in the chest or a heart condition.

Your vet will be the best guide to as to helping you make the decision for euthanasia if it is time.

From what you have told me, I think we may need to prepare ourselves that it could be bad news. I hope I am wrong though.

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. AskAVetQuestion.com 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:

Thanks for your reply.

she has just had a blood test for her diabetes and it was fine.

i thought she was quite unwell when i took her to the vet on thurs - but he did not seem unduely concerned.

realistically, and vey sadly, i think it could be bad news too but as her last two trips to the vet have been traumatic for her i am reluctant to go unless it is definitely the right thing to do. i suppose i want a miracle really! But in the meantime are there any signs i should be looking for as i don't want her to suffer. (i wouldn't be happy with an anaesthetic for investigation as i feel she is too frail for that). her breathing is laboured but she does not have her mouth open and is not panting.





Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I suppose the biggest thing to watch for is her appetite. If she goes more than a day or two without eating then she really should be seen. This is even more important in a diabetic cat.

The laboured breathing has me concerned. I generally say that any time a cat has laboured breathing they need to be seen right away. If there is laboured breathing to the point that you can notice that something is not right then it means that she is uncomfortable. In my opinion, it is not fair to allow a cat to have difficulties with breathing.

I understand that vet visits are traumatic. But I really would recommend that you take her in.

Dr. Marie.



Customer reply:

ok thanks


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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.