Howling in Geriatric Cat

Pea-n-Me

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
That is a really good thought Pea! I could see that being a possibility, especially given her history of dental issues.

I did move her food and water dish into the living room now so it's closer to where she hangs out, in case it's arthritis.

I'm going to offer up my various theories when we see the vet tomorrow. 1) teeth 2) arthritis 3) general old age/dementia. If she could talk this would sure be a lot easier.

I think the consideration of the kidneys with regard to choosing gabapentin is how it's metabolized in the body. She wanted to give her something that wouldn't tax her kidneys.

It's hard to say in a cat of her age, but so far they have said her heart sounds great, so hopefully no issues there.

As always, I really appreciate your input.
No, I get it! It was a good choice with what was likely felt to be nerve type pain and given the diminished kidney function.
 

mom2rtk

Invented the term "Characterpalooza"
Joined
Aug 23, 2008
Our cat, Weasley, used to be an intermittent howler. We found that if we called out to him, he'd come find us, so I think her really was just lonely, maybe not quite sure where we were or he was or something. He hasn't howled in awhile, though. Weasley is 20 years old, and is definitely slowing down. He is pretty skinny, maybe 8 pounds- and he was almost 20 pounds in his "youth!" He is still hopping up onto the couch, his favorite sleeping place and where he spends 90% of his time, and makes it upstairs maybe once every couple of days- I'm not sure if he can still jump up onto the bed. He drinks a lot, and pees a lot. He's having trouble getting his hind legs into the litter box, so we are using one that's about 4" high, but it's still a struggle. Sometimes he gets both legs in, sometimes only one... so we also have a large stock of pee pads, although he is not peeing anywhere else (pooping is a different story, but we just pick that up- dry, firm, easy clean-up). He meows a LOT, much more than he ever did, but I really think it's for company. If we sit and pet him, he'll settle down, purr, fall asleep. He is missing a lot of teeth but still eats both wet and dry food (1.5 oz of wet and a 1/2 c of dry food a day) and eats most of it- and drinks a lot of water. His hindquarters are pretty unstable- he definitely wobbles a lot, sometimes almost falls over, and his back legs are very folded-down (not straight) and he walks s..l..o..w..l..y and kind of low-slung, with his belly pretty close to the floor. He is old, definitely looking at the sunset of his life, but he is just a love. We went through this with his brother, Potter, 3 years ago, so we know what's coming. As long as he keeps eating, is not incontinent, and not in pain, we'll keep coaxing him along and loving him as much as we can. 😺
So Glad Weasley is hanging in there! Good for him still jumping up on the couch. I'm right there with you saying as long as they are eating, not incontinent and not in pain, we'll keep coaxing her along. I'd love to see a photo of Weasley if you have one. :cat:
 

TipsyTraveler

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Thanks for your feedback on arthritis and medication. I'm really curious now to see what he thinks. I'm willing to try something else.

Do you think they would do an xray if he thinks it's arthritis? Or just try prescribing something to see if it helps? How about steroid injections? Do they use those?
Arthritis would show up on radiographs, but I suspect your vet might be able to diagnose it by just checking for range of motion in the extremities and pain response along the spine and hips. I would not expect them to prescribe steroids — too many side effects and not a good long term option. NSAIDs are the commonly used option but, again, I personally feel like Adequan is the best option available these days. It’s an injectable (made from cow tracheas, oddly) that has almost no side effects associated with its use and shows symptom improvement for a very high percentage of patients. Trying to remember off the top of my head, I think the treatment goes something like an injection once a week for the first 4 weeks, followed by once every other week for the next however many doses, and finally tapering down to once a month for maintenance. That’s a lot nicer than struggling to get pills down a cat’s throat on a daily basis for the rest of their life. You can also increase the frequency of the injections without risk of “overdose” if once a month isn’t enough to manage the arthritis. My vet allowed me to buy it by the vial and give the injections at home; yours would probably do the same.
 
  • mom2rtk

    Invented the term "Characterpalooza"
    Joined
    Aug 23, 2008
    Arthritis would show up on radiographs, but I suspect your vet might be able to diagnose it by just checking for range of motion in the extremities and pain response along the spine and hips. I would not expect them to prescribe steroids — too many side effects and not a good long term option. NSAIDs are the commonly used option but, again, I personally feel like Adequan is the best option available these days. It’s an injectable (made from cow tracheas, oddly) that has almost no side effects associated with its use and shows symptom improvement for a very high percentage of patients. Trying to remember off the top of my head, I think the treatment goes something like an injection once a week for the first 4 weeks, followed by once every other week for the next however many doses, and finally tapering down to once a month for maintenance. That’s a lot nicer than struggling to get pills down a cat’s throat on a daily basis for the rest of their life. You can also increase the frequency of the injections without risk of “overdose” if once a month isn’t enough to manage the arthritis. My vet allowed me to buy it by the vial and give the injections at home; yours would probably do the same.
    Thanks for the specific info on adequan. I could certainly do injections at home. Is that something where you'd expect to see improvement quickly if it's going to help? Or do you need to have several injections before you see it? That's very encouraging!
     

    TipsyTraveler

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 9, 2014
    Thanks for the specific info on adequan. I could certainly do injections at home. Is that something where you'd expect to see improvement quickly if it's going to help? Or do you need to have several injections before you see it? That's very encouraging!
    Gosh, I don’t remember. I know it didn’t take all the way until it was tapered down to monthly, but it probably took a few weeks to see improvement. How is she handling the gabapentin?
     

    mom2rtk

    Invented the term "Characterpalooza"
    Joined
    Aug 23, 2008
    Gosh, I don’t remember. I know it didn’t take all the way until it was tapered down to monthly, but it probably took a few weeks to see improvement. How is she handling the gabapentin?
    Thanks for the info.

    She's doing fine right now, but I'm only doing half of the recommended dose because of how the full dose messed her up the other night.
     

    TipsyTraveler

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 9, 2014
    Thanks for the info.

    She's doing fine right now, but I'm only doing half of the recommended dose because of how the full dose messed her up the other night.
    Okay, just asking because my renal failure cat couldn’t tolerate it at all. I tried it at full dose and 1/4 dose and both times it nearly killed him — unresponsive, hypothermic, muddy gums, the whole nine yards. I don’t know why it messed him up so badly but I just wanted you to be aware to keep an eye on how she reacts to it and STOP giving it if you’re not comfortable with the way she’s responding. You can always talk to the vet later and come up with a new plan, if necessary, but it’s better to skip the med rather than giving it if in doubt (in this case).
     
  • mom2rtk

    Invented the term "Characterpalooza"
    Joined
    Aug 23, 2008
    Okay, just asking because my renal failure cat couldn’t tolerate it at all. I tried it at full dose and 1/4 dose and both times it nearly killed him — unresponsive, hypothermic, muddy gums, the whole nine yards. I don’t know why it messed him up so badly but I just wanted you to be aware to keep an eye on how she reacts to it and STOP giving it if you’re not comfortable with the way she’s responding. You can always talk to the vet later and come up with a new plan, if necessary, but it’s better to skip the med rather than giving it if in doubt (in this case).
    Thank you. I appreciate the heads up. She had a half dose around 4 yesterday. Then a half dose this morning. I'm due to give her another half dose here in a bit. so far I haven't seen any reaction from her on this dose. The full dose scared the crap out of me the other day. She was a full on zombie for a while and couldn't control her hind legs very well. I honestly should have done a full mouth exam while she was gorked out but I was so worried I wasn't thinking about that.
     

    Rebma512

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 7, 2020
    Gabopentin can mess up a human- my dad 300 lbs plus started on that med and was getting knocked out in the middle of the day
     

    mom2rtk

    Invented the term "Characterpalooza"
    Joined
    Aug 23, 2008
    Gabopentin can mess up a human- my dad 300 lbs plus started on that med and was getting knocked out in the middle of the day
    Boy do I know!. I took it for many years myself. It was very helpful, but it took a bit to get to the dosage right. I only took a small dose at bedtime.
     
  • TipsyTraveler

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 9, 2014
    It should not be stopped suddenly. It has to be weaned off.
    Yes, when it’s used as an anticonvulsant for any length of time it should be weaned down to prevent withdrawal seizures. In cats, though, it’s given on a “here and there” basis as an anti-anxiety med. Since we were talking about a cat who’s only had a few doses of the drug, I think it’d be prudent not to give another dose if the cat still seems overly sedate from the prior dose. Hold off on the meds until after you can get ahold of the vet for advice.
     

    Pea-n-Me

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 18, 2004
    I had to look back to see how long he’d been on the gaba - I see just a short time. As others have said, it can be a very strong medication as it works in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Renal impairment can slow its metabolization, too. Mom2 it sounds like you’re familiar with it. I just want to make sure people know to wean it.
     

    PollyannaMom

    I was a click-clack champ!!
    Joined
    May 16, 2006
    ...She does have a pattern of hanging out on her spot on the sofa for long periods of time, sleeping and chilling out. She seems quite happy and purrs when you stop to pet her. But then she gets down and goes for a drink and/or some food then walks back into the living room to get back on the sofa. She stops in front of the cushions and just howls. I think there's a good chance she's asking for help to get up...
    It's good that you're tracking patterns. Every bit of info you can give the vet is a clue to the puzzle.

    I wonder if it's an inner ear thing, if jumping up scares her?
     

    hopemax

    Note to Self:
    Joined
    Apr 1, 2000
    Arthritis would show up on radiographs, but I suspect your vet might be able to diagnose it by just checking for range of motion in the extremities and pain response along the spine and hips. I would not expect them to prescribe steroids — too many side effects and not a good long term option. NSAIDs are the commonly used option but, again, I personally feel like Adequan is the best option available these days. It’s an injectable (made from cow tracheas, oddly) that has almost no side effects associated with its use and shows symptom improvement for a very high percentage of patients. Trying to remember off the top of my head, I think the treatment goes something like an injection once a week for the first 4 weeks, followed by once every other week for the next however many doses, and finally tapering down to once a month for maintenance. That’s a lot nicer than struggling to get pills down a cat’s throat on a daily basis for the rest of their life. You can also increase the frequency of the injections without risk of “overdose” if once a month isn’t enough to manage the arthritis. My vet allowed me to buy it by the vial and give the injections at home; yours would probably do the same.
    I have to thank you for your perfectly timed post! I read it yesterday, while sitting in the car, during our 17 year old kitty's annual checkup. I had asked the vet to really check his hindquarters because I had noticed he was being very deliberate while sitting and lying down. She checked him out, and said he was a lot more stiff, hissed at her, while she was manipulating his hips, indicative of pain, and recommended Adequan. Described it just as you did, once a week for the first 4 weeks, and then tapered down for maintenance.

    Thankfully, this is our compliant kitty. He already gets a pill and inhaler for his asthma, so what's one more thing, lol. I joked that he is a walking pharmacy.

    He is also a bit of a howler. I kind of hoped it was a little dementia, but in our case, I think we have taught him to ask for things when he wants something. His eating habits have changed recently, which I think is because of his hip pain. So we had switched him to smaller meals through out the day, instead of just morning/evening. So he has gotten in the habit of coming to me and meowing really loudly when he wants to eat. Also, he meows when he wants the Laxatone for his hairball management. He's a great cat, but when you look at him you can see it in his eyes that he considers himself an equal member of the household. Unlike the younger kitty, who things HE is the god and the rest of us just live here. Otherwise, he is very alert, well groomed, purrs on demand, and we will miss him terribly when the time comes, and so we want to keep him around as long as possible.
     

    TipsyTraveler

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 9, 2014
    I have to thank you for your perfectly timed post! I read it yesterday, while sitting in the car, during our 17 year old kitty's annual checkup. I had asked the vet to really check his hindquarters because I had noticed he was being very deliberate while sitting and lying down. She checked him out, and said he was a lot more stiff, hissed at her, while she was manipulating his hips, indicative of pain, and recommended Adequan. Described it just as you did, once a week for the first 4 weeks, and then tapered down for maintenance.

    Thankfully, this is our compliant kitty. He already gets a pill and inhaler for his asthma, so what's one more thing, lol. I joked that he is a walking pharmacy.

    He is also a bit of a howler. I kind of hoped it was a little dementia, but in our case, I think we have taught him to ask for things when he wants something. His eating habits have changed recently, which I think is because of his hip pain. So we had switched him to smaller meals through out the day, instead of just morning/evening. So he has gotten in the habit of coming to me and meowing really loudly when he wants to eat. Also, he meows when he wants the Laxatone for his hairball management. He's a great cat, but when you look at him you can see it in his eyes that he considers himself an equal member of the household. Unlike the younger kitty, who things HE is the god and the rest of us just live here. Otherwise, he is very alert, well groomed, purrs on demand, and we will miss him terribly when the time comes, and so we want to keep him around as long as possible.
    :thumbsup2 I hope the Adequan helps him feel better soon!
     

    mom2rtk

    Invented the term "Characterpalooza"
    Joined
    Aug 23, 2008
    We saw the other vet today. Well, sort of. This one didn't let people go back, just pets. He thinks it's arthritis and gave her a steroid shot. He wants me to see if it helps and call back to discuss on Monday. It all went so fast I really didn't get a chance to ask about the Adequan. I still plan to ask about it if we move forward with the arthritis theory. He said there are a couple of schools of thought on the gabapentin. Some don't think it really helps, but it certainly doesn't hurt to give it if she's tolerating it.

    He says he wouldn't remove the teeth there. He would send us to a specialist for that. Not sure if we'll go forward with that. It's on a back burner for me right now since it's so high risk and we're exploring other potential causes.

    Still howling this afternoon. Not sure how long steroids would take even if it was going to help.
     

    mom2rtk

    Invented the term "Characterpalooza"
    Joined
    Aug 23, 2008
    no, it’s mostly during the day (about 10am - 4pm). night time she seems quiet!
    That makes a huge difference. There are really 2 issues for me with the howling. First (and most important), she does seem a bit distressed when she howls. Second, she does it many times at night now. It's a bit like having a newborn baby again.
     

    Farro

    Who loves Primeval Whirl? This girl.
    Joined
    Jun 19, 2016
    Boy do I know!. I took it for many years myself. It was very helpful, but it took a bit to get to the dosage right. I only took a small dose at bedtime.
    Cashew was on gabapentin at the end of his short little life when he got uveitis in his left eye (they think lymphoma spread :( ). For him it was a god send, stopped the pain, would relax him and he would lay still, be peaceful.

    On his last day we gave him a dose before we brought him in, to soothe him.

    I hope your kitty is well today! :)
     





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