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Dr. J
JAIIOHIO posted:
Can anyone explain why a 17+ year, neutered, Maine Coon screams at the top of his lungs whenever he doesn't see or her my wife or me? Even after he sees us, he'll go into another room and start screaming anyway. Is this a sign (early) of Alzheimer's??
Home2strays responded:
animals can also have cognitive dysfuntion, I know there are meds for dogs for it but you should also rule out any other health problems he could be trying to tell you (hyperthyroidism, diabetes, renal failure)
Bonnie Beaver, BS, DVM, MS responded:
First, congratulations on taking such good care of your cat so that he has been able to live 17 years! That is a real tribute to your good care. As for the problem you describe, there are several possibilities. Cats, like dogs, can develop separation anxiety when they are not with a specific person or people in general. Cognitive dysfunction (senility) developes in about 65% of cats that are the age of your cat. Brain studies show that they get amaloid deposits in the brain like people do, but they do not get the neurologic tangles that typify human Alzheimer's. Older animals also have a decreased sensory ability so vision, smell, and hearing aren't as good as in younger kittys. It certainly is possible that it is a combination of more that one thing that can be causing this behavior.
Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP responded:
Besides the behavioral and cognitive issues discussed above, there are two documented medical conditions that can cause increased vocalization in cats: hyperthyroidism and hypertension.

Hyperthyroidism, an elevation in thyroid hormone, is a common disease of older cats. Initially, it causes an increase in appetite and activity (doesn't sound like a sick cat, does it?) It also causes weight loss and many of these cats do vocalize more. It's diagnosed with a simple blood test in most cats and responds very well to treatment.

Hypertension is an elevation in blood pressure, just as in people. Unlike people, however, it usually isn't related to disease of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) but often occurs secondary to underlying problems such as kidney disease. It's also easy to diagnosis by taking a blood pressure (which is not quite as easy as it sounds) but if he has hypertension, your veterinarian will need to run additional lab tests to see what's causing it.

Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP
The Cat Doctor
Board Certified in Feline Practice
JAIIOHIO responded:
Drs. Beaver, Weigner and Home2strays,

Thank You much for your insights. We'll consider what to do neext with our ole man. Being awaken early in the morning, 7 days a week, to blood curdling sceams really gets the morning started!!



William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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