Ask Dr. Richards

February 2009 Issue

Ask Elizabeth: 02/09

I can certainly sympathize with your need for sleep. Decker may be keeping you awake at night due to medical or behavioral reasons. Without more background information, I donít know which is likely to be responsible in your case, so Iíll discuss several possibilities in the hopes that I hit upon the cause behind Deckerís insomnia. In the meantime, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. May I ask Deckerís age? If he is an older cat (letís say over the age of eight), several medical conditions may be involved. The first ó and most common disease to consider ó is hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormone leading to a myriad of problems. The classic symptoms of hyperthyroidism include unexplained weight loss and increased appetite, but some hyperthyroid cats have a decreased appetite. Other symptoms occur in some ó but not all ó hyperthyroid cats and may include vomiting, excessive thirst and urination, diarrhea, an unkempt haircoat and hyperactivity. Excessive thyroid hormones also have an effect on the heart, causing an increased heart rate. Some cats develop a heart murmur and others may have elevated blood pressure. Without treatment, hyperthyroidism is often fatal, so a complete physical exam and a blood test looking for increased thyroid hormone (T4) should be your first step in determining whatís causing Decker to yowl at night.

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