Why is my elderly cat so noisy?

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Some cats can become more vocal as they grow older. Vet Andrea Harvey explains why this might be...

(Q) My 15-year-old cat sprays on occasions and has now 'found' her voice, which is very loud and raucous! It's almost as if she is calling (though she has been spayed). She does it during the day and at night, waking me up three or four times. What do you think could be the problem?

Vet Andrea Harvey advises: If your cat sprays from time to time, especially in reaction to stress, it's possible she is quite a reactive individual and it may be that she is not coping well with, for example, not hearing or seeing as accurately as she did when younger. If she becomes disorientated she may cry out in an attempt to elicit help and reassurance.

However, a range of medical conditions - among them hyperthyroidism - can affect older cats, causing profound changes in behaviour. It is advisable for older cats to have blood tests if anything like this emerges to check out what is happening with their vital organs and endocrine status [hormones].

Another important issue here is that we now recognize dementia in elderly cats. It's termed cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and, as there is no specific test for it, it is diagnosed by exclusion of other conditions that could be causing the symptoms. There is currently no cure but support treatments are available - and the sooner they are instigated, the better the results are likely to be.