Howling & Hyperthyroidism in an Older Cat

"I don't always howl at the top of my lungs, but when I do, it's 3 in the morning."
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The issues associated with getting old stink, and it's no different for your cat. Age brings new health issues and physical limitations that affect her everyday life, resulting in new behaviors you may find annoying. Address any change in behavior, as it could indicate an underlying problem.

Haywire Hormones

Two little glands in your cat's neck control the way her body functions, and if these glands go wonky her entire system goes out of whack. The thyroid glands release a collection of hormones, which regulate her metabolism and keep her various organs running like a well-oiled machine. If these glands malfunction and start kicking out too much thyroid hormone, her body organs work harder to try and use the excess. This can result in secondary conditions such as heart and kidney disease, as her organs race to keep up with the overactive thyroid.

Hyperthyroidism Symptoms

Too much thyroid hormone affects your cat's metabolism, essentially resulting in her body burning through fat and calories at warp speed. She won't be able to eat enough to keep ahead of her increasing metabolism, but her appetite will give it a good try, and she'll lose weight. You may see your cat at her food and water dishes almost constantly, and when she's not eating she'll be in her litter box. Her coat health may change, and she may shed more or look dirty and unkempt. Some cats start vomiting regularly, or begin howling or crying more often due to mood changes.

Age-Related Issues

Although hyperthyroidism is a common occurrence in older cats, that may not be why your cat has started caterwauling at the top of her lungs. Cats develop various familiar issues as they get older, specifically hearing loss. Your cat may get louder and more vocal as she gets older just to hear herself properly. Some cats suffer from dementia, and could howl because they're confused and upset. A more vocal cat could also be an injured cat, as arthritis and other hidden medical conditions develop.

Professional Care

No matter how friendly and loving your cat is, she's unlikely to come to you and let you know she's hurting. If she's begun howling without cause or displaying any unusual symptoms or behaviors, see your vet for a checkup. Hyperthyroidism is completely treatable, and if caught early enough many of the secondary health issues resolve on their own. Non-medical related issues, such as dementia and other psychological factors, may require alternative treatments to quiet the howling, and your vet can help you find the right solution for your situation.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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