By- Erin Fitzpatrick-Wacker
Is your cat experiencing changes in its normal habits? Since our cats can’t tell us what is bothering them, we monitor their everyday behavior for changes to alert us that something may have changed.
In the case of diabetes, some early symptoms you might see are attacking you for food, inappropriate elimination, problems jumping on things, and worn off fur on the bottom of paws. Some late symptoms you might see are increased water consumption and increased urination.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, you might see increased appetite, changes in their coat, and weight loss.
If we are checking their lab work regularly, we are able to monitor many of these changes, and in the case of early diabetes, can even reverse the changes if caught early enough. We recommend screening lab work for every overweight and underweight cat, especially if they are over 10 years old, and every cat over the age of 7, especially if they are being anesthetized. 50% of diabetic and hyperthyroid cats have an underlying gastrointestinal issue (GI) and need additional screening lab, such as a GI panel with their regular lab work. Diabetic patients are also prone to urinary tract infections and require additional testing for their urine.
Properly diagnosed cats with gastrointestinal problems live 2 years longer, since skinny old cats have a reduced ability to digest fats and proteins, which is why we prescribe the special diet we put them on.
We also often like to check the quality of their stool to check and document consistency. Many cats with gastrointestinal problems have normal looking stool from the outside, but the inside will be waxy or liquid-like.
Monitor your cat closely for changes because of the special needs of senior pets and do yearly screening lab work to help evalutate their internal organs and identify underlying medical conditions. The sooner we identify their condition, the faster we can treat it. Bring these noticeable changes to the attention of your veterinarian for proper testing and diagnosis.