In 2013 we were told our now 19 yr old male cat has pancreatitis. A traveling vet subsequently came to help me administer a med to him. Even she was not successful and told me: "your cat is old. Don't keep stressing him out by taking to the vet every time he's not well anymore. As long as he's eating and drinking water, he's ok." Without typing the entire conversation, her point was: he's old, refuses meds and surgery isn't an option for him so just keep him happy. We haven't taken him since.

This cat NEVER meowed prior to 2013. He used to be normal and eat what we gave him. Now he yells like a screaming infant and doesn't like any of the food we give him. He has a few cries and sometimes we think it could be from pain but the majority of the time it seems he's just mad.

THE PROBLEM: It's 11:30pm and everyone just woke up for our first round of the nightmare it's become living with a geriatric cat. He will do this all night long (5 - 7 times a night!) and it's a little less during the day. He only licks his food. Refuses to eat dry food. He cries 24/7 to eat but if he liked something at noon, he hates it by 1pm. I've tried expensive foods, a ton of brands, baby food, just meat gravy, heating food, etc. Nothing works for more than a meal and he's just licking his food at best.... Unless it's on another cat's dish! Then he finds a way to tear it up. Yes we have other strays/rescues but we keep them outside or in the basement. My little old man seldom goes out anymore but if he does, he is somehow still the king of the jungle and even our tomcat is a big baby and will run from this little tyrant. He's now skin & bones and I'm so at the end of my rope that I'll share any food I'm eating with him just so he can get nourishment: burgers, eggs, hot dogs, bagels, etc.

I love my boy but this has been torture for all. It's like having a crying infant who never grows out of it. We are so stressed when night time comes we now all say: "good night/good luck." We are so sleep deprived I don't think I will ever catch up...

Sleepless in Yaphank

  • 2
    I think not going to the vet is not a good thing to do. Only the vet can diagnose what may be the underlying medical condition.
    – Sonevol
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 6:37
  • 1
    If he has pancreatitis he is almost certainly in severe and constant pain, which will also affect his appetite. And just 'drinking water' will not be enough to keep him hydreated. You have to take him to the vets.
    – user10093
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 8:12
  • This cat needs to see a vet to get some relief for him. Also does he have any company in the basement?
    – user6796
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 10:24

1 Answer 1


The advice to not take your cat to the vet was not good advice. Your cat is likely suffering from a combination of physical and mental health conditions. Only your vet can be sure what is happening and can provide instructions on how to make your cat more comfortable.

Lower Stress Options for Vet Treatment

The least stressful way for a cat to see a vet is to have the vet come to your home. If you can't find a home vet for your area on the internet, call several local clinics to find out if they do home visits (or can recommend someone who does home visits).

If this isn't possible, in North and South America, you can look for a [Cat Friendly Practice][1] (other locations may have a [Cat Friendly Clinic][2]). This is a certification program to ensure these veterinary hospitals take several steps to ensure that the visit is as un-stressful as possible, including

  • Each Cat Friendly Practice® makes an effort to have a calming environment.
  • A waiting area or experience that reduces stress associated with other pets, or unfamiliar smells and smells.
  • Cat Friendly Practices® can also help advise you on ways to reduce stress before and after the visit.

Finally, many of my cats feel better if I bring a blanket that smells like home for them to hide in. The vets that I've seen have all been entirely understanding (and some appreciative) that my cat was calm and relaxed hiding under the blanket, and would only expose the parts necessary for the exam as needed. We've even done a echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) with the cat's head completely covered by the blanket.

Medication options

It's not clear what type of medication you were trying to administer to your cat a few years ago. Many medications come in different types so experimentation may allow you to find something that works for your cat.

Pills and liquids are the most common types of medication. If neither of those work, sometimes you can mix the medication into the cat's food or wrap it in cheese or a bit of canned tuna.

Finally, many medications can be compounded into a dermal gel that you rub into their ears. The dosing can be trickier with this method, but if nothing else works, most people can handle rubbing a cat's ears (this is how we administered an anti-anxiety medication to a feral for awhile).

Specific Health Concerns

Generally, an elderly cat who is not eating is often experiencing kidney failure (which makes them feel very nauseous). This can be managed with medication and subcutaneous fluids.

Additionally, you may want to consider dementia as a possibility. Dementia can show up as loud crying in a cat who was previously very quiet (especially at night), and can be managed by altering the cat's environment (providing more mental enrichment and enclosing the cat in a smaller area of the house so he's less likely to forget where he is).

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