Vomiting, Diarrhea and Weight Loss in Elderly Cats

Older cats are susceptible to numerous conditions with similar symptoms.
i Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Once the spry, agile days of kittenhood are left behind, your elderly cat can develop various illnesses and health conditions that manifest with similar symptoms. The only way to accurately know what's making your cat miserable is to visit your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.


If your geriatric cat suddenly seems to think he's a kitten again with the energy levels to go with it, he may need his thyroid gland checked. Older cats commonly develop hyperthyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Since this hormone is responsible for controlling the metabolism of every organ in Kitty's body, he may feel suddenly restless because his organs are working overtime to process the excess. The longer the condition goes undetected, he may start vomiting, experience diarrhea and lose weight despite an increase in appetite. The severity of his symptoms increases as time goes on, so early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to get your cat back into good health.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Vomiting and diarrhea issues typically point to a gastrointestinal issue, and even cats can get a tummy bug every now and then that makes their gut ornery. But when weight loss also occurs, it could indicate a more sinister condition. Inflammatory bowel disease is a common condition in older cats, occurring when their intestinal lining thickens and becomes painful. This makes it difficult for the cat to eat, causing weight loss first, followed by frothy vomit and mucousy diarrhea. A good indicator that this is what's affecting your cat is abdomen pain. Gently press on his abdomen and if he cries out or tries to get away, get him to your vet for testing.

Kidney Failure

Father Time is a cantankerous cuss, causing various vital organs to simply stop working effectively as your cat gets older. Most cats suffer from some form of kidney issue as they age, where the organs stop filtering the toxins from the blood properly. Your cat may stop eating and lose weight, vomit and experience diarrhea as the non-filtered toxins build up in his bloodstream. He may also become lethargic and develop a dry coat. Your vet can determine how far along the condition is and recommend a practical treatment plan based on the results.


Cats seem prone to developing a laundry list of conditions as they age, which is understandable considering a 10-year-old cat is approximately equivalent to a 60-year-old human. Time is sometimes cruel to the body, regardless of your species. Diabetes is a common condition in older cats, occurring when Kitty's body doesn't get enough insulin to properly use the sugar in his bloodstream. Without access to this blood sugar, his body begins to break down stored fat and protein for energy. Typical symptoms include weight loss despite an increase in appetite, and an increase in water consumption and litter box visits. If left untreated, he may develop a serious complication called ketoacidosis which causes vomiting, diarrhea and breathing abnormalities. Once diagnosed, diabetes is treatable, offering your cat a longer, healthier life.

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.

the nest