Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. You should have him examined by your vet, probably blood tests will be necessary. If appetite increased it could be that he has an over active thyroid, if drinking more he could have kidney disease.

How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced pet care professionals :

Cats have few ways in which they let us know they`re experiencing discomfort, illness, or pain. Neglecting to groom is one clear sign. Whether the cause is age, weight, illness, or distress, if you notice your cat isn`t keeping up their appearance, consult your veterinarian to work on a treatment.
Well-recognized causes of weight loss in old cats include chronic renal disease, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and dental problems, to name a few.
It`s not uncommon for older cats to experience weight loss, and sometimes it can be difficult to find the cause because a cat`s metabolism changes with age. Kidney disease, or renal insufficiency, becomes more common as cats age, and symptoms include weight loss and increased drinking and urination.
Should I Groom My Senior Cat? As cats get older it can be harder for them to groom themselves for a variety of reasons such as arthritis. It`s important to keep your older cat well-groomed because an unkempt coat can lead to painful matting in their fur.
However for a guideline, to keep long-haired cats clean it`s best to give them a bath once a month, short-haired cats or senior kitties will only have to be bathed as needed when they are dirty or smell bad to guard them against infection.
The average lifespan for a pet cat is probably around 13 to 14 years. However, although their lifespan varies, a well cared for cat may commonly live to 15 or beyond, some make it to 18 or 20 and a few extraordinary felines even pass 25 or 30 years of age.
Reduced appetite. Lethargy. Decreased interest in positive things like playing, social interaction and exploring outside. Being withdrawn and hiding away.
As they age, cats are not able to digest their food as well resulting in increased nutrition requirements. If their nutrition does not meet their requirements, they will lose muscle mass resulting in the ability to easily feel the bones of their spine and hips when petting them.
You`ll be the proud owner of a senior cat by the time it hit about 11 years old. If a cat lives beyond 15 years of age, it`d be a “super-senior”. When caring for older cats, it sometimes helps to think of their age in human terms.
Healthy (but skinny) cats may simply need more meals per day and/or free access to dry food in order to gain weight. Cats prefer to `graze` or eat small meals throughout the day so having food available all day long can make all the difference.
Most domestic cats should weigh about 10 pounds, though that can vary by breed and frame. A Siamese cat may weigh as few as 5 pounds, while a Maine Coon can be 25 pounds and healthy.
Neglecting to brush your kitty`s coat can lead to painful tangles and a bellyful of hair. You`ll know if your cat is suffering from hairballs when he coughs them up onto the floor or expels them in his feces.
Why Do Senior Cats Stop Grooming? As many as 90 percent of cats that have reached their geriatric years, which begin at age 12, will have developed osteoarthritis in at least one joint. Stiff, painful joints can make it more difficult for your cat to groom, especially when it comes to tough-to-reach spots.
Some cats find grooming uncomfortable, so if you notice your cat twitching, swishing their tail, growling or hissing, end the session. Many long-haired cats need grooming every day to prevent knots from forming, while short-haired cats generally do a good job of grooming themselves.
Just like when they were kittens, older cats tend to sleep as much as 20 hours a day. If your senior cat`s sleep patterns are starting to change, look first to their home environment, before getting concerned. Especially as they age, cats need warm and comfortable places to sleep.
Thanks to improved nutrition, living indoors, and advances in veterinary medicine, cats live longer and are now considered older at 12 to 14 years, says Richard Goldstein, DVM, assistant professor in small animal medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, whose oldest feline patient reached a …
By 12 years of age your cat is becoming a senior citizen, and by 15 she is considered “geriatric” (see chart below). While the average lifespan for a spayed or neutered house cat is 14-16 years, many felines are now living into their late teens and even their early twenties.
If your cat is sleeping a lot, this could just be due to old age. Cats naturally slow down as they get older and many prefer to sleep for longer. However, if your cat is not eating at all, this is a very serious situation and needs urgent medical attention.
Changes in daily habits.

Cats who are painful may withdraw from their usual family interactions, may become less engaged in their surroundings, and may start hiding.” Cats who are painful may withdraw from their usual family interactions, may become less engaged in their surroundings, and may start hiding.

Weight loss can be an early sign of illness, so check with your vet. It is common for older cats to develop medical conditions that cause them to lose weight, such as kidney and thyroid disease. If your cat is losing weight, it is important to consult your vet as soon as possible.
Dental issues and problems that affect your cat`s mouth could result in a lot of pain, which may mean your cat is not able to eat very much, or this may stop them eating altogether, and both of these situations will often result in weight loss.
However, in most industrialized countries, the onset of old age is considered to be around 60 to 65. In the U.S, this is the age when society commonly considers you elderly because this is when most Americans stop working and become eligible for age-based assistance programs.
If your cat gets to 20, she`s around 97 human years old. Unlike dogs—who have different human age equivalents depending on their size—the formula for cats is universal because they`re all roughly the same size.
Even though cats require fairly minimal care, the care they do require provides much-needed exercise for older owners. Even seniors who have arthritis or other physical limitations can easily care for cats.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. I have a cat that defecates in the litter box but always urinates outside the box. It is very annoying.
ANSWER : A. Inappropriate elimination in cats is often a behavioral problem rather than a medical problem, so the first step is to have him seen by your vet to eliminate any kind of illness or condition as a cause for his eliminating outside the box.

If medical issues are ruled out, take a look at other reasons. Has there been a lot of unusual activity? Has you cat been left at home or boarded? Is the litterbox in a busy area? Has anything happened recently in this area to make him reluctant to use it again? Is there another cat, pet or person that is preventing him from getting to the box? Have you changed it from a hooded to an open box, or vice versa? Is it big enough? Have you changed the type or brand of litter? Is there something attractive about the spot he uses? Cats dislike disturbances to their routine and may act out to express their dissatisfaction.

The general rule is one litter box per cat in the household, plus one. That way each cat can have a place of their own to go in case the box is occupied or another cat has claimed it as territory. They should be scooped daily, if not more often and changed completely weekly, washed with soap and water only. You can offer one kind of litter in one box and another kind in another to see if there is a preference. I don’t recommend the crystals, it makes a hissing sound when wet that startles some cats and make them reluctant to use it again. The litter boxes should be located in a quiet, low-traffic area so that the cat can use them in peace. Make sure any other pets or people aren’t giving them a hard time around or in the litter box. It may take some investigation and experimentation to find your cat’s preference and accommodate him so that everyone is satisfied with the situation. And, when cleaning up pet accidents, don’t use any cleaner containing ammonia. This leaves behind a scent similar to urine.

Q. My cat will not stop going to the toilet on my carpet, bed, washing pile etc.. Also uses its litter box occasionally? I don’t understand why this is?
ANSWER : A. Inappropriate elimination in cats is often a behavioral problem rather than a medical problem, so the first step is to have him seen by your vet to eliminate any kind of illness or condition as a cause for his eliminating outside the box.
If medical issues are ruled out, take a look at other reasons. Has there been a lot of unusual activity? Has you cat been left at home or boarded? Is the litterbox in a busy area? Has anything happened recently in this area to make him reluctant to use it again? Is there another cat, pet or person that is preventing him from getting to the box? Have you changed it from a hooded to an open box, or vice versa? Is it big enough? Have you changed the type or brand of litter? Is there something attractive about the spot he uses? Cats dislike disturbances to their routine and may act out to express their dissatisfaction.
The general rule is one litter box per cat in the household, plus one. That way each cat can have a place of their own to go in case the box is occupied or another cat has claimed it as territory. They should be scooped daily, if not more often and changed completely weekly, washed with soap and water only. You can offer one kind of litter in one box and another kind in another to see if there is a preference. I don’t recommend the crystals, it makes a hissing sound when wet that startles some cats and make them reluctant to use it again. The litter boxes should be located in a quiet, low-traffic area so that the cat can use them in peace. Make sure any other pets or people aren’t giving them a hard time around or in the litter box. It may take some investigation and experimentation to find your cat’s preference and accommodate him so that everyone is satisfied with the situation. And, when cleaning up pet accidents, don’t use any cleaner containing ammonia. This leaves behind a scent similar to urine.

Q. Our cat of six years has on two separate occasions has defecated on the living room rug and recently pee’d on the skirt of the Christmas tree.
ANSWER : A. Inappropriate elimination in cats is often a behavioral problem rather than a medical problem, so the first step is to have him seen by your vet to eliminate any kind of illness or condition as a cause for his eliminating outside the box.

If medical issues are ruled out, take a look at other reasons. Has there been a lot of unusual activity? Has you cat been left at home or boarded? Is the litterbox in a busy area? Has anything happened recently in this area to make him reluctant to use it again? Is there another cat, pet or person that is preventing him from getting to the box? Have you changed it from a hooded to an open box, or vice versa? Is it big enough? Have you changed the type or brand of litter? Is there something attractive about the spot he uses? Cats dislike disturbances to their routine and may act out to express their dissatisfaction.

The general rule is one litter box per cat in the household, plus one. That way each cat can have a place of their own to go in case the box is occupied or another cat has claimed it as territory. They should be scooped daily, if not more often and changed completely weekly, washed with soap and water only. You can offer one kind of litter in one box and another kind in another to see if there is a preference. I don’t recommend the crystals, it makes a hissing sound when wet that startles some cats and make them reluctant to use it again. The litter boxes should be located in a quiet, low-traffic area so that the cat can use them in peace. Make sure any other pets or people aren’t giving them a hard time around or in the litter box. It may take some investigation and experimentation to find your cat’s preference and accommodate him so that everyone is satisfied with the situation. And, when cleaning up pet accidents, don’t use any cleaner containing ammonia. This leaves behind a scent similar to urine.

Q. My cat started to pee outside the litter box. What should I do?
ANSWER : A. Inappropriate bathroom use in cats is often a behavioral problem rather than a medical problem, so the first step is to have him seen by your vet to eliminate any kind of illness or condition as a cause for his defecating outside the box.

Once medical issues are ruled out, it’s time to take a look at other explanations. Has there been a lot of activity that wasn’t normal? Were you away and your cat was left at home or boarded? Is the litterbox located in a busy area? Has anything happened recently in this area to make him reluctant to use it again? Is there another cat, pet, or person that is preventing him from getting to the box? Have you changed it from a hooded to an open box, or vice versa? Have you changed the brand of litter or kind? Or is there something about the spot he has chosen to use that is attracting him in some way? Cats dislike disturbances to their routine and may act out as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction.

The general rule of thumb is one litter box per cat in the household, plus one. That way each cat can have a place of their own to go in case the box is occupied or another cat has claimed it as territory. They should be scooped at least daily, if not more often and changed completely on a weekly basis, and washed with soap and water.

You can also offer one kind of litter in one box and another kind in another to see if there is a preference. I don’t recommend the crystal kind, since it makes a hissing sound when wet that can startle some cats and make them reluctant to use it again.

The litter boxes should be located in a quiet, low-traffic area so that the cat can use them in peace. Make sure other pets or people aren’t giving them a hard time around or in the litterbox. It may take some investigation and experimentation to find your cat’s preference and accommodate him so that everyone is satisfied with the situation.

Q. My cat seems to have lost control of her bowels and no longer uses her litter box even to urinate. She is 5 or 6 yrs and is in good health otherwise
ANSWER : A. If your cat has had a sudden change in litter box habits, it is always a good idea to rule out any underlying issues with a wellness check from your vet. Bringing in a urine and stool sample if possible can also help as tests can be run on these samples to check for common infections or parasites. If these are present, treating them usually helps resolve the problem of not using the box.

Loss of bowel control usually results in dribbling of feces or urine rather than complete accidents. If you are seeing this, it is possible that an injury to the hind end or problem with the nerves or muscles is happening and should be looked at by your vet.

If the accidents are complete (full amount of stool, big puddle of urine) your cat may be choosing not to use the litter box due to illness, a too-dirty litter, litter pans that are too tall (which may make older cats have a harder time getting in and out), or a litter substrate that was changed too suddenly. Sometimes, changing the environment your cat’s litter box is in by lowering the sides, moving food and water dishes away and returning back to a previously liked litter can help.

In any area of an accident, an enzymatic cleaner should be used. These break down urine and stool particles, making it so that your cat is less likely to be attracted to going there again. Moving stools to the litter box can also entice your cat to start going there again.

Q. My cat is pooping outside of the litter bix. He is 2 1/2. He did this as a kitten. It stopped then started about 3 months ago. Litterbox is clean.
ANSWER : A. Inappropriate elimination or house soiling can be a frustrating problem but with a bit of detective work on your part, there is hope. First, before deciding that this is a behavioral issue, any medical problems (diarrhea, constipation, fecal incontinence, pain on defecation, etc.) need to be ruled out and/or treated. If your cat receives a clean bill of health from your vet but is still eliminating outside the litterbox, then we need to consider that something about the box itself might be aversive to your cat. Cats can be quite finicky about their litterbox and toileting habits. Below I have listed common recommendations and cat preferences for litterbox use. Review the list and make any changes that could account for your cat’s aversion to defecating in the litterbox:
* Soft, fine-grained clumping litter (vs, coarse-grained, non-clumping litter)
* Unscented
* 1 – 1 1/2 inch depth (especially older cats or cats with hip problems)
* Larger pans (especially for large cats) – want to get whole body inside – poop just outside the box might mean the box is too small
* Open, non-hooded
* At least one shallow side to get in and out easily
* Easy to get to – not hidden away, preferably in areas they spend time in or near – and not near appliances that make scary, unpredictable noises (washers, dryers, refrigerators)
* Scoop minimum 1X/day – preferably 2
* Clean the litterbox with soap and water and put in fresh scoopable litter at least once/month (instead of just continuously adding)
* Some cats prefer to urinate in one box and defecate in a separate box, so you may need 2 boxes even if you just have 1 cat. Multi-cat households should have 1 box/cat plus 1 extra.

Q. Cat is deficating on rugs, not litter box. Has never done this until this year. We drove from NY to FL, could there be a connection?
ANSWER : A. Sudden changes in bowel or litter box behavior can be caused by both behavioral or medical reasons. Scheduling a wellness exam with your local vet to rule out any problems (and also to bring in a stool sample) is the best first step. Problems such as digestive upset, constipation, diarrhea or even arthritis in older cats making it harder to get into the box can all cause this problem.

If your cat checks out healthy, it is possible that stress such as another person or pet in the home, age, or environment are causing the problem. Make sure that the litter used is the same, and if it needs to be changed that it is done gradually- cats are very picky about what they like as litter. Making sure bedding, food and water are not too close to the litter can also help as cats do not like to potty near these objects usually. For arthritic cats, a step or lowered box can make getting in and out easier to allow for proper use of the box. Keeping the box clean is also a must for cats.

As for cleaning up accidents, using a product such as an enzymatic cleaner may be helpful. These products break down urine and stool particles left in the accident area, and may deter your cat from using the spot as a bathroom again.

Q. My cat continues to scratch on furniture and carpets. He has plenty of scratching posts around the house. Please help!
ANSWER : A. Scratching is a natural behavior in cats that can be frequently frustrating for pet owners who want to keep their furniture from being shredded on a constant basis. The texture of furniture and carpet is very appealing to cats and this why they frequently choose to spend their time on this activity as opposed to playing with their own cat toys. Here are some suggestions to help curb this unwanted behavior:

1. Purchase a cat scratching post or cat tree that is covered in carpeted or textured material. Place it in an appealing spot that your cat would be inclined to spend time (eg. in the sun). You can also place catnip on the scratching post or cat tree to make your cat even more interested in the new object.

2. You can utilize double sided tape on the ends of the furniture because you cat will not like the sticky feeling and will learn to not scratch in that region. Use the tape that has a lighter adhesive in order to prevent any permanent damage. Other materials, such as aluminum foil or bubble wrap can also be placed on the furniture to discourage the scratching.

3. Keep nails trimmed short by either learning to do this on your own at home or using a veterinary technician, or groomer. Nails can usually be trimmed every 6-8 weeks.

4. Redirect the unwanted behavior. If your cat begins scratching, use a favorite or new toy to distract the cat from the scratching. Give your cat positive praise for not scratching.

5. As a last resort you can use a spray bottle full of water to spritz your cat when he or she is scratching inappropriately at your furniture. Generally, cats do not like water and this will discourage them from continuing the behavior.

Have patience with your cat because it can takes time to understand this is an unwanted behavior and that furniture is not another toy for them to use. You can always consult your veterinary or veterinary behaviorist to help with ideas or further solutions to this problem.

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