All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Whining Cat

Dear Marie,
Help!  I have a sweet, elderly cat with a thyroid problem.  She is probably 17 or 18 as I don't know her background since she came from a shelter.  I cannot go near the kitchen or she is right there meowing for food.  Not only that, she has become very selective in her food, and I find myself throwing a lot of food away.  I guess my question is—is it possible to correct this whining?  Is she really hungry or is she wanting attention?  She also prefers to drink her water from a faucet which is creating problems during the water shortage as sometimes the running faucet is overlooked.  I love her dearly and want her remaining time with me to be happy but this whining (along with the other problems) is driving me crazy.


Dear Shirley,
As cats get older, they tend to become more vocal.  Part of this is due to the fact that their hearing has deteriorated so they don’t realize how loud, and perhaps obnoxious, they are being.  But the crying may be health related. 

I am assuming that since you know your cat has a thyroid problem, that she is under veterinary care and she takes medication, or has the appropriate treatment to keep her condition under control.  If not, please schedule a vet visit as soon as possible.  Your veterinarian will be able to determine exactly what she needs based on a blood test.  Once your kitty’s thyroid problem is properly managed, she will not feel chronically hungry.

Most cats do get a little more finicky with advancing years.  For senior citizen pets, some foods are very difficult to digest and cause stomach upset.  It’s probably time to look into foods specifically designed for the more sensitive stomach of your aging feline. 

Kitties do seem to want more attention as they enter their sunset years.  Their bodies are noticeably failing.  They feel a little less secure.  You are the individual who has been a source of comfort throughout your cat’s life in your home.  You are her rock.  Try to be patient and not let her vocalizations annoy you.  Instead, spend a little extra time with her, especially knowing that whatever time she has remaining is limited.  You will miss her, and her extra loud meowing once it is silenced.

Many cats enjoy drinking fresh, running water.  Some are captivated by the motion and the sound.  I think it may spark an ancient, instinctual memory and makes them feel like a creature of the wild who has discovered a hidden stream.  (That might just be my own imagination running wild!)  In any case, just being next to a stream of fresh water encourages a cat to drink more and this is especially important for older cats.

Like all her other body systems that are wearing out, your cat’s kidney function is most likely beginning to wane.  Drinking extra water during this phase of life helps keep an old set of kidneys functioning well.  But instead of leaving a tap turned on, check out some of the special drinking fountains that are created just for cats who love running water.  You can probably find a few at your local pet supply store, or try an Internet search using the search criteria, “drinking fountains for cats.”  You can find quite a few different models online at very reasonable prices.  There are also reviews of many of the fountains posted by consumers who have purchased these items for their own cats.

I have no doubt that your kitty’s remaining time with you will be happy.  Do your best to muster up a little extra patience.  The final months to years of a pet’s life are sometimes difficult to handle for a lot of reasons.  But if loud meowing, finicky palate, and asking for more attention are the worst of your cat’s symptoms of aging, you are doing pretty well.  

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