My Cat Eats Like a Horse, But Is Getting Skinny! What Could It Be?
Especially as cats get older, there are several conditions that could cause them to seem especially hungry, eat like crazy, drink a lot of water, but still get thin. You will need to visit your veterinarian to get a real diagnosis for this, but one of the common causes is a condition known as hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is caused by a (usually) benign tumor on the thyroid gland. Its major symptoms are tremendous hunger, weight loss, and unusually frequent water intake. These symptoms, especially in older cats, may also be indicative of diabetes, kidney failure or another condition. But only your vet, after examining your kitty and doing bloodwork, can determine the real cause.
The good news, if you get a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, is that it is very, very treatable! In young cats who are diagnosed with this disease, and if it is affordable for you, the tumor can be removed. But in most cases, this disease is easily treated with a medicine called methimazole, or “tapazole” with the non-generic name. Methimazole can be administered in pill form (often enjoyed by cats when the medicine is wrapped up in pill pockets, turkey, or cheese, or crushed up in wet cat food); in treats provided by your vet; in liquid form that can be added to wet cat food, or in a transdermal cream which can be rubbed into your kitty’s ears.
At Whiskers, we have and have had any number of cats with hyperthyroidism. Depending on their temperament, they get it as a pill, as a liquid, or as a transdermal rub (a cream that is applied to the ears). Overall, this disease is not life-threatening, and can easily be managed with consistent medication. Kitties with this disorder will need to have occasional bloodwork to see if the medication is doing its job, and to possibly adjust dosages.
But trust us! Proper treatment of kitties with this disease leads to weight gain and happiness! If you are noticing these symptoms in your cat, please contact your kitty health care professional to rule out diabetes or kidney failure. (Which are, by the way, very manageable diseases as well, in many cases…stay tuned to our Whiskers blog for more information on these very common disorders, particularly among senior kitties.)
Please visit this link from Cornell Veterinary School of Medicine to learn more. But don’t worry: a kitty with hyperthyroidism may live for many years! But also don’t wait: find out what is making your skinny kitty so hungry and thirsty!