Help! My Cat is Broken!
Ever had a cat that was all wonderful then suddenly went off the rails? Is your cat currently exhibiting strange behaviour that was previously not present?
Hyperthyroidism & Diabetes
If your cat is bouncing off the walls, with a ravenous appetite, caterwauling at your all day long for food, drinking lots more than usual and you find yourself having to change kitty's litter box because it develops smells faster than usual...it could all point towards a metabolic disorder such as hyperthyroidism. This is very common in cats, particularly those that are middle aged and above. Dramatic weight loss, or inability to gain weight despite an active appetite will also be noticed. Coat conditions of affected cats can also appear unkempt, and may be excessively greasy. Fur loss can also occur.
The thyroid gland functions to regulate metabolism, and excessive thyroid hormone production in hyperthyroidism leads to increased heart rate, weight loss, decreased physical stamina, hyperactivity, exponentially increased appetite, insomnia, sometimes diarrhoea and vomitting. If you notice your cat meowing and being very active throughout the day and night, it can be a sign of hyperthyroidism, particularly if a combination of other symptoms are also observed. If kitty has been scavenging and rummaging for food recently, and was never like this before, it would also be an early warning sign!
If you suspect your cat could be hyperthyroid, do schedule a visit with your veterinarian quickly, as negative consequences can result if left untreated for too long. The risk of heart damage, organ failure and death can occur if hyperthyroidism if left untreated (imagine your body running on maximum 24/7, with no rest, it'll break down!)
Fortunately, this condition is easily diagnosed with your veterinarian by running blood tests, and can be managed with medication. Regular blood test reviews will be of importance to check for improvement and also to adjust medication as necessary.
Diabetes has a similar presentation in cats with excessive drinking, urination, appetite, and weight loss. An interesting characteristic of diabetic cats would be exhibition of hindlimb weakness. This is typically seen as the cat's hindlimbs with the paw extending to the hock joint touching the ground.
Similar to thyroid disease workup, diabetes investigation involves blood tests and a urine test to check for elevated glucose levels in the body. The condition is treated and managed with dietary adjustments and insulin therapy.
Have you noticed kitty acting stranger than usual, especially since you started travelling and/or going back to the office to work? Our pets have gotten so used to us being home with them that they have forgotten that we used to leave them for hours at home while we went to work. It is therefore important for us to re-introduce them to a new routine by gradual separation training (ie incremental increase in leaving your cat alone. You guys know i'm a huge proponent of incremental training!). Some at home calming care supplements and accessories may also help in alleviating anxiety and stress. Ingredients like Casein and Tryptophan are all helpful in managing behavioural disorders.
Just Being a Cat
Cats are special because we never know what we're gonna get! There was a recent published paper where researchers determined that cats most likely domesticated themselves to benefit from a relationship with mankind. Now that's a master manipulator if we know one!
They do have the tendency to change on a whim and can be a little tricky to determine based on behaviour alone. But for the sake of our sanity, if you notice something not quite right, always speak to a professional and get them tested if necessary! It pays to err on the side of caution in healthcare!