Cats are considered geriatric at around 15 years old, and with age comes changes in his health. You may notice an increase in his food and water intake, which could signify an underlying medical condition that requires careful treatment to ensure your cat enjoys his golden years.
Feline diabetes is a common condition that will make your elderly cat a frequent visitor to his food and water dishes. The condition essentially means his body is not utilizing the hormone insulin properly to metabolize the glucose in his blood. If he can't access the glucose flowing through his bloodstream, his body can't get the energy it needs to stay healthy and active. Your cat will feel the need to eat more, since he's not getting the proper energy and nutrition from his food, and drink more to help flush out the excess glucose though his kidneys. Other symptoms include increased urination and weight loss.
Another common condition among older cats, hyperthyroidism literally means the production of too much thyroid hormone. Two little thyroid glands in the base of the neck produce the hormones necessary to regulate and control the function of just about every other organ in the body. If one or both of these glands becomes enlarged and starts kicking out more hormone than normal, this can throw your cat's body out of whack, causing him to eat and drink more. Additional symptoms are frustratingly close to those of feline diabetes, including increased urination and weight loss.
Regardless of what condition you think your cat may have, get him to the vet, pronto. Your vet will run various tests on his blood and urine to search for an overabundance of thyroid hormone or glucose in his system. Your cat may need additional tests, such as various scans or X-rays to verify enlarged thyroid glands. Since so many conditions in elderly cats offer such similar symptoms, take note of any changes in your cat's behavior or routine to offer your vet a more complete picture of his overall health.
Unfortunately, dealing with either condition isn't as simple as giving your cat a pill to fix him up. Both conditions may require medications to correct, and your diabetic cat may need daily insulin shots to help him absorb his glucose properly. You will need to alter your diabetic cat's diet to ensure he gets the proper amount of nutrition. Cats with hyperthyroidism may require surgery to remove the overactive glands, which can produce other health concerns such as damage to the parathyroid glands and voice box. Your veterinarian will discuss all options with you and help you decide which is the best choice for your cat.
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