Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy

or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

Q. My 12y old cat is insanely hungry but losing weight. She also has thick spit. Her sibling died of renal failure last year. What is wrong?

Answered By

A. Have her seen by your vet. At her age and with her symptoms you need to have your vet rule in/out hyperthyroidism. This is done via blood work. A CBC, chemistry panel thyroid panel and urinalysis can be submitted to assess major organ function.

Answered By

A. I can't speculate on why her sibling died last year (and I'm sorry about your losing your pet). It might seem that the two of them have some type of genetic problem, but I doubt that the kidney failure in the first cat is related to the signs you are seeing in your second cat. I think that you just have some bad luck going on, and as both cats are/were well into what we consider to be "geriatric" years, you're going to start seeing some problems, unfortunately, speaking from a statistical standpoint.

Knowing what caused the renal failure would have taken some diagnostic work at the time, including an ultrasound to visualize the kidneys as well as (of course blood work) and a thorough history. Sometimes we never find out what causes kidney failure, but an ultrasound could have helped us understand if there was a congenital (present from birth) problem that caused the ultimate failure.

As for your remaining cat, I think the previous answer is spot on. The first job is to diagnose what is causing the increased appetite with weight loss, and the number one cause of those symptoms in 12 year old cats is hyperthyroidism. This is a metabolic disease that usually involves a benign growth on the thyroid that's causing overproduction of thyroid hormone. This results in a ramped-up metabolic state, causing hunger and weight loss (and lots of other things, like vomiting, diarrhea, and an elevated heart rate).

Hyperthyroidism can be treated successfully, but you need to get her diagnosed in order to do so. Other things to rule out are a problem in the intestines that prevents absorption of food, but that's less common than hyperthyroidism.

DISCLAIMER: The answers in Ask petMD are meant to provide entertainment and education. They should not take the place of a vet visit. Please see our Terms and Conditions.


Ask an expert about your unique situation now FOR FREE!

IMPORTANT: The opinions expressed in Ask petMD content area are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Our Ask petMD experts include veterinarians, vet techs, veterinary students, pet trainers, pet behaviorists and pet nutritionists. These opinions do not represent the opinions of petMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a petMD veterinarian or any member of the petMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, timeliness, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. petMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment. Do not consider petMD user-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on petMD.