Is Kitty being pick...

Is Kitty being picky? Or is she sick?  

Originally Answered: Is Kitty being picky? Or is she sick?

Kitty is 11-13 year old domestic short hair. She was a stray I took in many years ago, so not sure of her exact age.
Anyway, a month or two ago, she had a ravenous appetite. She wanted to eat at least double what she used to. then about 2 weeks ago that completely flipped. She didnt want to eat anything. i took her to the animal hospital and they diagnosed her with hyperthyroid and possible kidney disease.
That was about a week and half ago. For the first week after she was eating decent, drinking a lot, and peeing a lot. Now, she smells her food and walks away...UNLESS, its pieces of turkey deli meat that I use to give her the thyroid pills. That she will eat no problem. she also is always around me during dinner wanting my food (chicken, turkey, etc). so i know she has an appetite, she just refuses to eat the cat food. Sometimes if I hand feed I can get her to take a couple bites, but mostly she just walks away.
I cant just feed her deli meat. so what do I do? It seems if i pick up a new type of food, she will eat it...when its fresh from can. She does not want it after that. I've tried warming it in microwave, with warm water. She doesnt want it. And if, on the rare occasion she does eat it, she spreads it around the dish and once its spread out, she walks away.
so far, this ordeal has cost me $3500 in vet bills and I basically have no idea whats happening, or how to get her to eat normally.

Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ
Originally Answered: Is Kitty being picky? Or is she sick?

Hi there. I can totally understand how stressful it can be when a pet is not eating - I just went through it myself! What you are describing is pretty typical for cats that have both hyperthyroidism and kidney issues. When you start treating the hyperthyroidism (which is needed) then cats will often develop a poor appetite. That is because the hyperthyroidism was driving their appetite before, and now that is handled, then they start to not want to eat because of kidney issues.

The other issue is that cats can develop strong food preferences that can make it challenging to switch their food. Furthermore, while there have been a lot of improvements in kidney food for cats, they still don't taste as good as turkey deli meat.

It is very important that Kitty eats every day, even if it is something that is less than ideal. The reason for this is because cats will develop fatty liver syndrome if they don't eat, which can be life threatening. So...make sure she eats every day!

As far as the pickiness goes, there are a couple of things you can try.

  • Keep offering small amounts of fresh canned food throughout the day, only offer the amount that you think she will eat so you don't waste food. Warm it up, mix it with chicken broth, etc.
  • Ask your vet for samples of several types of kidney foods - there are several different brands with different types of flavors and consistencies. Your vet should have free samples that you can try to see what your cat likes.
  • Try mixing food before switching diets - some cats have really sensitive stomachs that can be upset by abrupt food changes, which can lead to food aversions like you are describing. You may need to go back to her old regular food (if she will eat it) for a little bit, and then slowly start mixing in kidney food, taking up to a week to transition her. 

It is also important to talk to your vet about your issues, because Kitty really does need to eat. Maybe they need to adjust the dose on the thyroid meds, or add an appetite stimulant. They also need to check her weight and make sure she isn't losing any, and make sure her blood pressure is normal.

I also recommend having Kitty tested for SDMA, which is a more sensitive kidney marker than BUN/Creatinine, if your vet hasn't done that yet. If the kidney problems are minor or early, then you may not need to try and feed your cat kidney food just yet, and you can stick to the regular diet if she won't accept anything else. Cats are only switched to low protein diets when they are classified with stage 2 kidney disease. Ask your vet which stage of kidney disease your cat is at, and if you really need to start a kidney diet now or can it wait. 

Most importantly, don't stress, as long as she is eating something every day, even if she isn't eating what she is supposed to. Hope that helps to start, don't hesitate to ping me back if you have more questions. I'm here to educate. 🙂


Originally Answered: Is Kitty being picky? Or is she sick?

@sarah-wooten I never thanked you for your response. I took her to a new vet, and she has had multiple tests done over the past few months. Kitty does indeed have kidney issues. She has been on renal food for the past month or so. Her last blood test showed that kidney levels are better.
Currently though, she keeps vomitting clear liquid. usually in the morning. Its something that would happen a few times a month. But its happened the last 3 days. She is eating normally. going to the bathroom normally. wants to be pet and purrs normally. My vet is gone until Tuesday, so I figured I'd ask here. Is it a hairball issue? I keep waiting to see a huge hairball in the vomit, but it hasnt been there. Just clear liquid with a little bit of hair. If she is eating and pooping, does that mean its not an obstruction?
If it is a hairball, that just isnt coming up in the vomit, what can I do? I know there are hairball foods and treats, but she is on the kidney diet, so I cant give her those hairball foods, and I havent found a kidney/hairball food or treat. 
I brush her once or twice a week. Is that not enough?

Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ
Originally Answered: Is Kitty being picky? Or is she sick?

@cnoevl21 thank you for the update and the gratitude. 🙂 I'm so glad you are getting support you need. Remember - I can't give direct veterinary advice, but here is what I would tell a friend:

Hmmm. Not sure on the vomiting. If your cat is eating, peeing, pooping, and otherwise acting healthy then it is likely not a big deal and could be a hairball. I used to put a tiny bit of petroleum jelly on my cat's paws or nose so that he would groom it off. That would coat any hairballs and help them pass.

If your cat stops eating, or the vomiting worsens, or any other symptoms come up then get thee to a veterinarian immediately. Otherwise, you are probably ok to wait - but that information is for educational purposes only and isn't veterinary advice, m'k???  🙂


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