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Elderly Cat Weird Behavior Question

April 17th, 2006, 02:19 PM

I hope to get a lot of opinions here so we can make the right decision. A few weeks back, we noticed that our oldest cat who is now 15 started defecating and urinating in places other than her litter box. The most prominant was behind a wood stove. It was gross. We literally tossed out carpet and underlay and scrubbed the masonry behind the stove with bleach and water. She even peed in my little girl's doll house and on her rug. We totally replaced the rug and underlay with wood flooring and redid the bottom floor of the doll house so there is no smell anymore. Still, she'll pee in the same place on the floor if we leave the door open during the day. She also peed under my son's bed and behind the tv in the living room. (Thank God we have laminate and wood flooring and not carpets in there!)

The problem is that we are unsure of why she is doing this. We have had elderly cats before and the only reasons we've ever had a problem with them peeing in the wrong place is either a kidney/bladder problem or fear (we had one elderly cat become afraid to go to the box when one of the younger ones started "blocking her". We fixed that by taking her to the box regularly so she could go.) We also had a younger one once start defecating on things but we realized that she'd do this when stressed out because of a move or a new pet coming into the home. In fact when I met my husband and he and I got our place together, she was so mad she pooped on his side of the bed. (It was kind of funny later but at the time we were not too impressed.)

This cat we have right now seems to have no reason and she was never a problem when younger. The boxes are always kept clean. The other two cats go outside most of the time now that summer is here and we have watched to see if anyone is bullying her. They aren't. The vet says she has no bladder or kidney problems and the urine is normal.

How-ev-er. He did say that she has two bad teeth that need to come out. She lost a lot of weight in the past several weeks because she isn't eating properly due to the bad teeth. He is spectulating that once her mouth pain is gone, and she regains some weight she may stop the nutty behavior.

Here is our dilemma. We want to get her teeth fixed and cleaned and in a large way we'd like to give her a chance. My husband was not allowed to have cats as a child and this was his rescue kitten. He doesn't want to put her down needlessly. Neither do I. On the other hand, we also don't want to prolong the inevitable and put her through surgery only to find out that the problem is continuing and we have to euthanize her anyway. We also don't want more pee and poop in the house.

Sometimes we wonder about senility but in every other way, she's normal.

Have any of you heard of medical issues such as tooth/mouth pain causing an animal to behave like this? Our vet has been very good to us...dropped the rates charged by the former vet, given the odd freebie, been available for after hours chats, etc. I don't think he's trying to get us to do a needless surgery just to get the money....but still...I am not sure what to make of his speculation?

Like I said, I need opinions. Should we give our kitty a chance? The money is not the issue...



April 17th, 2006, 04:18 PM
I would definetly have her teeth seen to,I had almost the same thing happening with one of my cats,after the teeth were pulled and he was not in pain anymore he was more peeing on the floor.
There is of course no guarantee,but at 15yrs old,she still could have a few more years and I think dental-surgery is definetly the way to go.
Through bad teeth,she could also suffer other ailments,heart and other organs,but hopefully it has not gone that far with your kitty.
My cat lived to be 19yrs old,he was 14yrs old when he had a couple of theeth pulled.Good Luck!!

Lucky Rescue
April 17th, 2006, 04:38 PM
Chico is right. Bad teeth can cause all kinds of problems, like kidney failure, once the bacteria from the decaying teeth enters the bloodstream.

Not to mention the pain your cat may suffering could also contribute to her avoidance of the litterbox.

Please have her seen to by the vet. My last cat had dental work done at 18 years old.

April 17th, 2006, 05:08 PM
Fortunately her kidneys and heart are fine. We are aware of what dental problems can lead to and normally have our cats' teeth scaled and cleaned every so often...whenever the vet feels it needs to be done. Some have had it annually and others have required it less. Our male orange is about 9 and the vet says his teeth are remarkable, so we've been fortunate with him.

We didn't have this particular old girl's teeth done earlier because the former vet said she had a bad heart murmur and he wouldn't put her under anesthesia. Because she had no other problems he said just let her go as long as she could.

However, we put her on a product for humans called Strauss Heartdrops last spring as we figured it couldn't hurt. Well her heart murmur went from a 5 out of 6 (6 being close to failure), to a 1 out of 6, which is great for an old cat. So now, the vet says she has a really good chance of surviving dental work, (and he's put his dog on the heart drops to see if it will help her enlarged heart..hope it does).

Now that I have heard both of your opinions I think we'll definitely consider seeing if the dental work solves the problem. All of our previous cats, other than one who developed cancer at the age of 13 have lived beyond 16 years. One also developed cancer at 17. The others died of heart related complications but now that twe know that the heart product works for cats, we'll be putting all of them on it and who knows, maybe we'll get one to go over 20! (((((-:

Thanks again for your comments. I'll keep you posted.


April 21st, 2006, 07:40 PM
We had our cat in to the vet today and it turned out that her teeth weren't bad at all, they just needed scaling. They are wondering about possible arthritis in the jaw.

Whatever the reason, she is losing weight. She is hungry though, but just won't eat much. It's like she eats a bit, loses interest but then is asking for more food. We've tried every food under the sun. Same thing.

The vet wonders if her taste and smell are off which can be caused by kidney problems. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

April 21st, 2006, 10:27 PM
Did he check her salivary glands? I had a cat once who had the same feeding behaviour, which progressed to him literally pawing at his mouth. Turned out he had 2 inflamed salivary glands under his tongue. He had surgery to repair them and recovered well. While I was reading up on it, I learned that there are actually salivary glands further back, in the neck area (which more often become inflamed). I am assuming the vet palpitated all around that area to see if there were any lumps. Just a thought. I don't have any bright ideas, sorry. May be something that will manifest down the road. Poor kitty. I would make her food very wet, so she can lap it and doesn't have to use her jaw motion as much.
Would pain medication help, if arthritis is suspected? Or you might try her on some glucosamine, people here have had good results with it.

April 22nd, 2006, 05:17 AM
I think our vets may be missing the mark, entirely. We are wondering if she's actually in kidney failure.
As to the previous question, we did get some metacam for pain and because we have had animals in the past (dogs mostly) with arthritis, we had some syn-flex,which is a liquid glucosamine. I had been putting it in her food but then she decided not to eat anything in which I added the gls so I stopped for awhile. Then the "potty behavior" showed up and we started heading in another direction.

Today we brought her home from being under anesthesia and she is still not happy. It is 3 a.m. At 10 pm she ate a bit, drank and seemed happy. Now she wants no contact, seems uncomfortable and when I took her to the litter box, she urinated and then just stayed in the box for about 20 min before coming out.

The vet said she had low bp which was not good, but then I read on the net that low bp under anesthesia is common. However, all the weight loss, potty trouble, etc. has us wondering if it's not kidney failure. The vet wants us to send out blood and serum tests which we agreed to. But several of our friends and family members wonder if they're bilking us for vet work when the proverbial "writing is on the wall". Everyone seems to think its kidneys and that our vet should realize the signs. Even the "Well Cat Book" talks about weight loss, urinating etc., outside the box, eating problems, etc. as being part of renal failure.

We don't know what to do. It is putting stress on our kids as we hate seeing Puddy like this. We want to help her but we also don't want her to go through any more trauma if it is just 'her time'.

Oh, and also, now the vet isn't sure it is jaw arthritis as she manipulated the jaw while our kitty was under anesthesia and didn't find anything to indicate arthritis.

So now we put the poor baby through anesthesia and scaling when her teeth weren't bad, and now I wonder if the whole ordeal has sent her system into a dive. Here it is 3 am and my husband and I are just frustrated.


April 22nd, 2006, 07:48 AM
I am sorry to hear about yours and kitties troubles it must be incredibly frustrating.
IMO,If her teeth were"not bad"the vet should have postpone scaling until you found out what is really going on,but that's water under the bridge.
Kidney-troubles is very common and should be easy to detect by any vet,I just do not understand.:confused:
Her sitting for 20 min in the litter-box is a clear indication to me,but I am no she still having bowel-movements?
I hope you get some real answers soon and a solution for your poor kitty:fingerscr

April 22nd, 2006, 10:21 PM
starr said... I think our vets may be missing the mark, entirely. We are wondering if she's actually in kidney failure.

Sorry to hear about your cat but, if you`re not satisfied with the vet`s diagnosis, why don`t you take her to a different vet for a second opinion?:confused:

April 25th, 2006, 11:27 AM
First of all, I was annoyed that the scaling proceeded when her teeth were ok, but the vet didn't realize until after she was under anesthesia, that they were fine, so it was too late to go back. What happened was that one vet made the diagnosis of bad teeth and the other vet, who was to do the extraction disagreed and was right. Too bad they didn't consult before-hand. On the flip-side, she did need the scaling and it seems that all is turning out ok .... thankfully.

We were also thinking of a second opinion but we live very remotely and there is only one vet here. The next nearest one is over 3 hours away. Had things continued to be "up in the air" we were planning to contact another vet to see if we could arrange a road trip.

Annyhow, that's all water under the bridge now because the good news is that her blood tests came back indicating that her kidneys are absolutely fine. It turns out that she is hyper-thyroid. The condition causes her liver to metabolize very slowly so the anesthesia took a ridiculously long time to come out of her system which is why she was so terrible two days after surgery. Apparently this can also cause a lack of interest in food so we hope that once her thyroid is back to normal, she'll regain some weight. We also hope the the liver will repair itself somewhat once the thyroid issue is corrected.

I am happy that we persisted with the blood tests because the vet was almost 99 percent positive it was NOT her thyroid. So, he was missing the mark after all, although so was I. His wife, the other vet, was leaning heavily towards kidney failure although she said nothing at the time, waiting to see what the tests said.

Added good news is that for a 15 year old cat, her kidneys are very good, showing normal levels. Her heart is also good for her age. We certain that the natural heart formula we put her on helped her heart and now we're wondering if it did the same for her kidneys. The vet was actually impressed with how good her levels were.

The final bit of happiness for us is that we don't have to "pill" her. They now have this gel that you rub in her ear and it absorbs through the skin. Can you believe that???? I was ecstatic as I hate giving pills to cats. We give her this medication 3x a day for 3 weeks and then if her levels are improving we drop it down to once a day. So far, she's been great with allowing me to put it in her ear.

She has also perked up and is eating a little bit more. Not much but a bit.
Needless to say, our oldest child is thrilled that "Grandma Cat" will be around for longer and my husband is prancing around like we just had another baby in the family. His kitty is still here and has a chance.

Thanks for listening and commenting. I hope this thread is read by others because it is just plain freaky how hyperthyroidism was mimicking the symptoms of kidney failure. It just goes to show how important it is to have the tests done to make sure.:thumbs up


April 25th, 2006, 11:30 AM
I'm so happy to hear your kitty is doing ok now Starr :) Living proof that persistence and research pays off and saves lives :) :grouphug:

April 25th, 2006, 01:53 PM
Glad to hear you finally got a correct diagnosis and that Puddy is going to be okay.:highfive:

April 25th, 2006, 03:54 PM
Starr,that's great news,you must be very relieved to have a proper diagnosis.
Just a word of caution with the gel in the ear,I had one of my cats on a calming medicin in a gel form appled in the ear,or on the earflap.
Although it was certainly nothing life-threatening,his ears with time got really red and sore.
I also alternated ears every day,but I am sure your vet told you that.
It's a great easy way to give cats meds,just watch for a reaction...
However a sore ear can be healed easily and is not as important as getting her thyroids under control.
Please give us an up-date how she is doing:love:

May 1st, 2006, 05:56 PM
I am curious - did the unusal urinating cease? My cat seems to be going through much the same kind of thing