Big Drinking, Bad Hair Cat

old cat


I have a 15 year old male cat about 7 kg. In the last 8 months his fur has been falling out in small chunks. He has not been licking or scratching himself. He has a very good appetite. He is drinking much more water than usual and urinates a lot. He has bad breath. The veterinarian checked his mouth and teeth. They did some tests and said he is OK. I do not know if a thyroid test was done.

Dr. Nichol:

Your cat is not OK; he actually should be licking himself at least some of the time. Those rows of barbs on the surface of his tongue are good at pulling loose dead hair and skin flakes. Hunks of fur falling off suggests no grooming. He had been well-coifed. Why is he neglecting his appearance now?

Halitosis is more than just poor form on a first date. Buzzard breath in cats and dogs is often a strong (revolting?) clue that smoldering oral infection is dragging down the whole physical system. A constant ache in your kitty’s mouth could be the cause of his poor self-grooming. But if his mouth hurts, why is he eating like a pig?

As many as 11.4% of older cats develop benign thyroid tumors. Most lose weight while eating, drinking, and urinating more. Rising blood pressure damages their kidneys, often causing its own brand of gum disease, along with even more drinking and urinating. It’s time for a diagnosis. At age 15 this older gentleman may be a geezer but he shouldn’t have to look like one.

All older kitties, even those still at the top of their game, need an annual blood and urine panel that includes a T4 (thyroid test). Ask for a copy of your boy’s lab report so you’ll know what’s missing. Get a thorough exam of his mouth and skin plus a doppler blood pressure measurement. If he’s like most cats he may be nervous at the doctor’s office. Visit to find a nearby veterinarian who is trained in low-stress handling.

For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website,

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom ( Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Email pet behavior or physical questions to or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.