Caitlin UltimoHealth / Symptoms & Solutions

What’s Happening to My Hungry, Loud Senior Cat?


My 17-year-old cat got sick last fall and the vet put him on canned food. Now he wants it all the time. I still feed him dry cat food plus canned food at night. My cat will not sleep at night; he continually wants to eat and keeps me up meowing all night long. I also noticed that he urinates on the carpet in the basement. I just don’t know what to do anymore. Our local vet said they didn’t know what was wrong with my senior cat and wants to do exploratory surgery. My cat is too old for that and I don’t want to let them do it. Do you have any suggestions?


It sounds like you have two separate problems. A continually hungry 17-year-old cat who stays up meowing at night may have hyperthyroidism. This glandular disorder occurs when the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone; it is only seen in older cats. The most common signs of hyperthyroidism in cats are weight loss and excessive appetite. Other signs that you might see include excessive thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity and increased vocalization. Every cat is different in terms of the signs that they manifest. You didn’t say if your cat is showing any of the other signs I’ve described, but his age and the increased appetite and increased vocalization certainly fits. You should have your veterinarian check your senior cat for hyperthyroidism.

As for his urination in the basement, this could be due to a medical problem or a behavioral issue. A urinalysis, urine culture and an X-ray should be performed. A 17-year-old cat is likely to have some kidney impairment, and this can predispose him to urinary tract infections, which could explain the urinating on the carpet.

If is a behavioral issue, your vet can suggest how to make the litter box more appealing and how to make the spot he’s going on less appealing. Because the urinating occurs on the basement carpet, perhaps you can restrict his access to the basement. As for surgery, I can’t imagine what type of exploratory surgery your vet is pondering, unless there’s some information you haven’t told me. In any event, get your cat’s thyroid urinary system evaluated.

By: Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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