NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: My 16-year-old cat is refusing to eat her Hill’s Prescription a/d or y/d food for hyperthyroidism. She is eating very little of anything.
What are the symptoms to watch for as her health deteriorates? My vet hasn’t given me much information.
— D.K., Winston-Salem, N.C.
Dear D.K.: I am sorry to hear about your elderly cat. Hyperthyroidism is all too common today, and there are various treatments that you can find on my website, DrFoxVet.com.
So many of the special prescription diets are very unpalatable for cats and dogs, which is extremely counterproductive when animals who are ill need appropriate nutrition. Your poor cat may also have high blood pressure, heart disease and, worse, chronic kidney disease, which is often seen in conjunction with hyperthyroidism and calls for a different dietary regimen.
Above all, you must avoid stressing your cat. I trust the attending veterinarian warned you of this concern. A trip to the veterinary hospital could trigger a “thyroid storm” because of your cat’s hypersensitive endocrine state and lead to a heart attack.
If your veterinarian did not suggest a treatment other than this special diet, you should ask why. Also ask if the health of her kidneys was evaluated. You may want to seek a second opinion if you feel unsatisfied with the answers you are given, ideally making an appointment with a veterinarian who specializes in cats and does stress-minimizing in-home visits.
Your disease-weakened and declining cat may do best with TLC, a quiet environment and whatever she likes to eat — meat and fish or high-protein human baby foods, which many cats on their last legs will rally and enjoy. Her comfort and your mutual peace of mind are probably the best course of medicine for you to take, since her condition is a terminal disease.