Why does my cat vocalize at night?


I have two cat, but I just have a problem with one. She is a Maine
Coon, about 12 years old. She sleeps in her bed in the family room but awakens around 3:30 or 4:30am meowing constantly. I try to calm her down, but she seems very anxious. I have been thinking that maybe a tranquilizer would be the answer as I am very sleep-deprived. Would this be your suggestion?


Hazel, Vacaville, CA

Believe it or not, your complaint is quite common among owners of middle-aged and older cats. And it could be a sign of a serious, yet treatable, disease.

Twelve-year-old cats are prone to a syndrome called hyperthyroidism. It is a disease of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in your cat’s neck, and it produces a hormone (called thyroid hormone) that controls the body’s metabolism. Cats with hyperthyroidism produce too much thyroid hormone.

Hyperthyroidism can cause a number of symptoms, including vocalizing and acting agitated late at night. Cats with the syndrome may also drink more water, eat more food, lose weight, have digestive problems such as diarrhea or vomiting, and develop skin problems.

Internally, the disease can have serious effects. Hyperthyroidism can cause heart disease and blindness. It can contribute to kidney disease.

Therefore, before you tranquilize your cat, I’d recommend that you have her thyroid gland checked out. If she is hyperthyroid, a number of treatments are available that help to prevent the more serious consequences of the disease.

Dog owners should be aware that older dogs can develop problems with their thyroid glands, too. In dogs, however, the glands become underactive, which can lead to weight gain, amotivational syndrome, skin problems, and, rarely, aggression. This syndrome, called hypothyroidism, also can be treated.

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