Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

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Hollysmum
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Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Tue Oct 13, 2015 11:21 am

My 19 year old cat, Holly, has taken to meowing very loudly when we go off to bed at night. Usually, it's just one lot of about six meows, then she's quiet, but some nights, we get several lots, maybe twenty minutes or so apart, and then sometimes, she'll do this in the early hours of the morning, maybe 4.30am. I should explain that her long-standing "routine" was unavoidably changed when my husband had surgery in May, and had to spend a month sleeping in the armchair in our lounge, which is where Holly sleeps at night. She had been doing the loud meowing prior to this, and we'd tried putting a nightlight in for her, then leaving the curtains open slightly to let the glow from the streetlight in, giving her a load of fuss before going to bed, giving her extra food before bed - you name it, we've probably tried it! Now, my husband is on extended sick leave, so is at home a lot more than she or he is used to, again disrupting what had been her routine. She is generally very healthy, bless her, and eats well. One thing that I would happily do, but my husband flatly refuses to try, is to leave the door of the lounge open (we live in a maisonette) - he thinks she'll try to get up on the bed, and to him, that would be just the end of the world (he is not a cat nut like I am - I met him long after I had her). I don't think she would, actually, as she only loves me, not him!! I must add here that he is undergoing serious treatment daily at the moment, and I think that her meowing is just getting to him a bit more than it might normally, and I understand that. Any helpful suggestions would be very welcome! :(

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by meriad » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:33 pm

So where does she sleep now? I'm not sure I've got it right, but is your lounge now the bedroom where you both sleep or why can you not leave the lounge door open? :? sorry if being a bit daft

To me, it sounds like your old girl is suffering from what so many old cats suffer from - feline dementia. She can't help it at at 19 years old poor girl probably just can't quite fathom why she's lost her bed which is just adding to her confusion. My old girl Molly who I lost two years back aged 21 had it and would regularly get off the bed in the night to use the litter box and then meow her little head off because she would get confused about where she was. I would then get up, pick her up and bring her back into the bed with me and she'd usually settle down very quickly again. All she needed was a bit of a cuddle and reassurance. Calling her wouldn't help as she was quite deaf at this point bless her.

What do you do when you hear her meow in the night?

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:46 pm

Hi Meriad! Sorry if I've confused everyone. Holly sleeps in her little bed in our lounge, always has done. Husband was forced to sleep in the chair for a month because of surgery to the left side of his chest - he couldn't lie down in bed. This was the first disruption to her routine. Obviously, we sleep in our own bedroom which is next door to the lounge. Now that he's forced to be at home (when he's not having treatment at the hospital), the two of them both find their routines disrupted, and yes, I think that you're right when you talk about cat dementia - I've dubbed it Catzheimer's, in fact! As I said, Husband is not a cat nut like me, and is far less inclined to believe this, in fact I sometimes think he believes she does things on purpose just to annoy him! Of course she doesn't, she is a cat, not a child. He would never hurt her in any way, but like many people who are not cat-orientated, he tends to irritate her by making loud noises, or pretending to throw things at her, which, in her younger days, she would have dismissed and just given him a withering look. Now, though, she tries to find somewhere to hide. I always tell him not to do these things, especially when he wonders why she always wants to sit on my lap - duh! He is in no doubt about what she means to me, though - I've perhaps painted him as a right pain (and he is, in this instance!), but he would never see physical harm come to her, and I do catch him, from time to time, talking to her like I do! As for what we do when she meows, generally nothing, as she will usually stop after about six meows. Opening the door and putting the light on normally shuts her up, but you can see that she's frightened by this, even though we don't say anything or do anything other than open the door and put the light on. She does have slightly "milky" eyes, so I'm sure her eyesight isn't as good as it was, and I've suspected that she's gone a bit mutton Geoff too, but then I would expect both of such an elderly cat, really. Oh dear!

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by lilynmitz » Sat Oct 17, 2015 4:13 pm

Have you had her tested for Hyperthyroidism? This is fairly common in older cats, and one of the symptoms is increased vocalisation. It's treatable with drugs, easily administered hidden in their favourite treats. I think it would be worth getting her checked out at the vets.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Crewella » Sun Oct 18, 2015 12:02 pm

My old Minnie did do this at night from time to time in her last year, but would settle and go back to sleep pretty quickly. As has been said, it is quite common in older cats, but if you do feel it's more than that it would be a good idea to get her checked out or mention it at your next vet visit, just in case.

Bless you for your tolerance and understanding - your cat is lucky to have you (as is your OH). xx

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Mrs Kane » Sun Oct 18, 2015 11:36 pm

As sad as it is I am prone to thinking Holly probably has dementia, as mentioned by Meriad. Tbh for this there is no viable solution. She's think night is day, day is night and any change is well beyond her comprehension.
If your OH allows I'd seriously recommend leaving the lounge lights on, and possibly hall and kitchen lights too. She's meowing because she's frightened and doesn't know where she is, rather like a kitten would in their early months. A lot of cats get like this in old age, especially after they've been asleep. I'd try and maintain as much of a routine as possible with her. Possibly it's a good idea to encourage her to play. I wouldn't expect her to chase after or really play with whatever you're offering, but just a quick 10-15 mins of activity in front of her so her brain is stimulated perhaps an hour before you go to bed will really help her sleep better at night and possibly cut down the crying and confusion. If she's worn out enough to sleep through the night without you she's probably be much happier in the day when you're awake.
Sadly if she does have dementia it is a downward slope, much like with us. The most you can do is just try to keep her happy and healthy and don't change her environment. I wish you good luck and hope she's happy.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by lilynmitz » Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:27 am

Lily had just about every medical condition going at the end, and was never the sharpest tool in the box at the best of times. Her Hyperthyroidism was under control, but she still had periods of doing this towards the end of her life (amazingly for such a sickly cat she outlived all the others and made it to 17). But they tended to pass. We'd just give her some reassurance when she was yowling, as more often than not she just needed to know she wasn't alone in the house, and she would quieten down for the night. After a week or so she didn't feel the need to do it again. We always made sure she was well fed before we went to bed, and always settled her into her favourite spot at night, and it seemed to work for her, but I know every cat/medical condition/household is different.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:24 am

I am really touched by all your replies regarding my Holly Cat. I'm certain that, as well as the possibility that she has Catzheimer's, it is the disruption of her normal routine that has upset her. She does tend to have two meowing sessions after we've gone off to bed, but nine times out of ten settles down after that. I've taken to putting down a pouch of food for her last thing, too, as she eats well still. One other thing that is now worrying me is that she has started to use corners rather than her litter tray. This isn't a regular thing, but of course, is totally out of her usual character, and obviously not remotely nice for us humans. During the day, her tray is out in our hallway, alongside her food and water. Because of my husband's recent radiotherapy treatment, he's been at home a lot more, and he's found little piles in corners three times now when he's got back from the hospital. The tray and food arrangement has always worked perfectly well until now. I openly admit to being terrified to take her to the vet, in case he tells me there's nothing he can do, but equally I know that the situation can't continue. In the evenings, she'll still come and climb up on my lap and purr happily, and all seems right then, but I have to say that this is the ONLY time that all seems to be right with her these days. :cry:

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by meriad » Tue Oct 20, 2015 12:58 pm

Hollysmum wrote:During the day, her tray is out in our hallway, alongside her food and water.
Where is the tray at night? I hate saying this, but if you're moving it from one spot to another then that's going to have to stop because she actually may not remember that it's moved and she just won't have enough time to get to the tray. Also as she gets older she may struggle to get in and out of them quickly; so depending on the type of litter tray you have she may need that changed to something more suitable to an old arthritic and forgetful golden oldie

When my old Molly got to a point of being a lot slower I had a litter tray in the bedroom, bathroom and hallway. It was just one of those things one puts up with when one has an older pet - it's part of who they are at this point

Fusses to your old girl

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:40 pm

Meriad - yes, this occurred to me as I was typing my last response. The hurdle I need to overcome in this regard is my dear husband - he thinks there is something rather bad about being in the same room as her litter tray (which does not smell because of course I clean it out regularly), but again, given the choice between her using various corners and her litter tray, I know which option I would choose. Honestly, sometimes I just want to shout at him and say "What you really want is for me to have her put to sleep, isn't it?" That makes him sound dreadful, when he really isn't, it's just that he's not the same as I am when it comes to cats, and mine in particular, of course. I'm going to try and convince him this evening to leave her tray in the living room during the day from now on, and at least see what happens over the next few days. Thank you again for your understanding.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by meriad » Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:22 pm

It really is a tough one when you have a partner who doesn't understand or get pets the way we do.
And maybe yes, you do need to ask him exactly that question because unless he's willing to make certain compromises things aren't going to get better. One thing is for certain - Holly needs things to be in as much a routine as possible and for things to stay where they are and as they are.

The only way to maybe get it across to him that were your cat human she'd be about 90 years old or so; and things happen to us all as we get older.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Crewella » Tue Oct 20, 2015 11:01 pm

I can only agree with Meriad here, I'm afraid litter trays are a fact of life with cats, but much easier to clean than carpets. I really hope you can find a compromise where everybody's happy.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:03 am

Meriad and Crewella - again, thank you so much for your posts. I have had a small victory! I put to my husband that either the litter tray stays in the living room during the day, or he'll have to be cleaning up little piles in corners - what would he prefer? Then, when he made the usual protest ("she uses her tray during the day when I'm here, but then she'll go in a corner, too") I said that I believe she is genuinely becoming confused, and please, would he just humour me on this? He flatly refuses to believe she's confused, but he has caved in to the litter tray remaining in the living room. I'm going to monitor things for the next few days. He has now finished his treatment, and won't be endlessly travelling to and from hospital, so will be less stressed himself, so perhaps this will help matters calm down a bit. I think the whole set of current circumstances has not helped at all! I will also trot out the "in human years she'd be about 90" and then see if he thinks she's not entitled to be a bit confused! I will report back.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Crewella » Wed Oct 21, 2015 12:37 pm

Your poor husband, he's going through a tough time himself at the moment. It might be worth explaining that she's been a good, clean cat all her life, there has to be a reason for this change and cats get no pleasure from soiling places that upset humans. It might help him to understand if he has to try and think it through from her point of view?

Congrats on the small victory! :)

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by exlibris » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:58 pm

Regarding the litter tray problems -
As I knew we'd end up socialising in the same room as the cat litter when we first moved into our house, I did a little DIY. I made a spacious box out of wood, nothing fancy but with generous head room for a cat and good ground space for the litter tray. My intention was to put a hinge on the last wall and create a door for human access for cleaning. Put a catflap in it and you have a sound and smell proof item which you can paint a nice colour and stick a vase on top of. Regarding light, you could put a small light in it and/or have the front made of Perspex.
I find that if you go to the right woodyard they'll cut the wood you buy to size, which makes the job a lot easier.
The only thing is.....will you cat go for it? If you do decide to try this I recommend putting the last door on after she has got used to the rest of the contraption for a while first.
She might even like the security of an enclosed space, but that depends on the cat.

I ended up not putting the front panel on my deluxe catloo as we have the smell under control and just put a screen across it when we have guests. You might find your OH would be happy with the same arrangement.

If it doesn't work, at least you have a useful box for a shed.

I hope my mad DIY obsession helps!

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:48 am

Hi, exlibris - yours is undoubtedly an excellent suggestion, however, overnight last night, despite having her litter tray right next to her bed (as usual), there was a pile in a corner for me to clean up. I'm at a bit of a loss now as to what to do. In every other way she's fine - her coat's glossy, she cleans herself, she eats well, and as I've mentioned previously, she purrs away happily on my lap in the evenings. She's had slightly "milky" eyes for some time, but again, at 19, I don't think this is very surprising. Another thing that is tormenting me now is that we are going away on a long-planned holiday in ten days, only for a week. She always goes to stay with my parents, who live just up the road, but they are, of course, elderly (my dad is 84) and I'm wondering if it's fair on her and them. Because my husband is not working at the moment, our budget is very tight, and I just don't have the money for a cattery (although I think that would cause me the same torment!). I'm even struggling with the thought that I really ought to take her to see the vet, because it would cost £40 just for a consultation, quite apart from the thought of what he might say. I don't qualify for any help from the likes of the PDSA or RSPCA, because apparently, despite my husband's employment status, we're rolling in cash - oh that this were the case! :cry:

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Lilith » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:15 pm

Ah, I had a very old chap who, in his advancing years, wasn't too particular about where he went. It's a fact of life with some elderly cats, I'm afraid.

Does she use the same corner and could it be practicable to put her tray there? I'm wondering if she wakes up, feels the need and retreats as far as she can from her bed. (But sorry if I'm overloading you with advice.)

I don't think a vet visit/bill will solve this problem either; obviously if a cat's in urgent need you need to get it to a vet, but elderly cat incontinence isn't curable although, if it can be afforded, a checkup for hyperthyroidism etc could be a good idea.

I do hope your circumstances and finances look up soon and that Holly behaves herself, all very best wishes x

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by lilynmitz » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:04 pm

She'll probably be much happier in familiar surroundings hike you're away. Could your parents pop round twice a day to feed and clean her?

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by exlibris » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:13 pm

Do you have a friend who would house sit? Or would your folks be prepared to do so?

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by exlibris » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:25 pm

You might want to put a second tray where she went (don't move the regular one). See if she goes elsewhere......she may have a problem with the litter itself. If she's suffering from feline dementia or a stress disorder then the crunch of the litter may disturb her, try using that paper litter stuff you can get. Also, if the normal litter is giving her a weird sensation on her paws trying paper litter would also make a difference.
When human gets severely stressed (to disorder level) some sensations can freak them out, even if they've been fine with them before. Cats probably have the same reactions - we're all just mammals. I'm not saying this is definite or anything, just something to consider. But try the extra tray first before spending a fortune on fancy litter.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:00 am

You are all so very kind with your replies - there was a pile again this morning, unfortunately, in the same place as before. She'd eaten all her food, however! I'm now really bothered about leaving her at all for our holiday - I should perhaps have explained a little more clearly. My mother has Alzheimer's, my father is her main carer. They do have a cat of their own, who is no trouble at all, and actually gets on fine with my Holly. Taking Holly to stay with them has always, therefore, been a good arrangement, because, before the current "corner" problem, she was really no extra bother to them. My dad is a right softie with cats, and I've always known she's in totally safe hands. I think I will need to speak to him quite seriously about this, because I just know he'll say "Don't you worry about her at all, go and enjoy your holiday, she'll be fine". Any other year, this would have been quite true. I know, because he's the best dad ever, that he would go round every day to see to her if we left her at home, but then I feel bad about the fact that this is something extra he'll need to be doing on top of caring for my mum. And what if the "corner" problem continues? More cleaning up. My neighbour, frankly, is the last person I would ever ask to take care of Holly! We are going to put some newspaper down in the corner today and tonight, and then I'll get some different cat litter tomorrow and clean out her tray - that's an interesting thought, that she might have taken against the regular litter.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Kay » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:44 am

you might like to try a really fine clumping litter which is kind to paws - I can recommend Nature's Calling, which is dark brown and made from the inside of walnut shells - it has a strong earthy sort of smell which my cats took to immediately, and which might attract an older cat with perhaps a failing sense of smell

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Fri Oct 23, 2015 9:11 am

Kay - thank you for your recommendation - she's had loads of different cat litters over the years, and has been fine with all of them, but this is clearly now a different situation. I feel a trip to Pets At Home coming on!

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by lilynmitz » Fri Oct 23, 2015 9:59 am

What a difficult situation for you, and only you know the answer to this one I'm afraid. I'm sure your Dad would do his best, and given that Holly knows their house, she might just be ok. But do try the additional litter tray in her new "favourite corner" to start with.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Fri Oct 23, 2015 10:50 am

Hi, Lilynmitz - yes, I shall be doing this over this weekend and see how she does. Bless him, my dad is brilliant, but I just feel so guilty at loading more on his plate, so to speak. He'd be horrified, though, if I didn't ask him to look after Holly! I'll have a good old chat with him, and take it from there.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Mrs Kane » Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:34 am

Perhaps a silly question seeing as Holly seems fine apart from her slight dottiness, but is her litter tray very high at all? I know with my Sofi sometimes she believes she's in the litter tray from squatting outside it, but sometimes she is not and ends up piddling everywhere (she has her spots, poo goes in the back corner of the tray, and pee in the front). Has Holly shown any reluctance to jumping onto anything high, or even just stepping over things higher than 10cm? It's possible that she could be in pain and squatting outside the tray to go is easier than squatting into it.

I'd really recommend puppy training pads under her tray for the moment. You can pick them up at local pet chains and they're relatively cheap (3.50 for a pack of 20 on average) in case she starts urinating outside the tray too.

I hope you have a good stress free holiday!

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Mollysmummy » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:58 am

Poor holly. I would definitely introduce a 2nd, low entry litter tray in the corner she's been going in. But actually I think the 2nd biggest issue is educating your husband that cats get a lot of the same neurological conditions humans do in old age. I would definitely take her to the vets just so that things are documented.

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Re: Elderly lady cat meows very loudly at night!

Post by Hollysmum » Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:37 am

Good morning to you all, and again, I really appreciate your posts and advice. Over the weekend, I bought different cat litter, moved her tray to the corner where she has been "performing" and took the door off it (she has one of those covered trays). We have now had two nights with no incident! She seems to be happy to use her tray again. Mrs Kane - I did consider that she might be a bit stiff in the old legs, but she will jump up on to my lap in the evenings without a problem, so I think she's OK there. My husband, the other problem (!!) has grumped and griped about having had to move something of his to accommodate the tray, but of course, he can't disagree that it's far better that she's using her tray again than using the floor in that corner. He still refuses to believe that she wasn't simply being naughty, and that cats (and other pets) can suffer with stress, and that cats can be affected by dementia, or at least confusion. I'm continuing with trying to bring him round on that one. Holly has eaten well over the weekend (that's never been a problem), and I really think she seemed happier when I went into her this morning. She jumped up next to me whilst I was eating my breakfast, which she hasn't done in a while. Oh, and she sat and warmed herself when I put the electric fire on first thing - often she just won't be bothered to get off her bed. This evening, I'll be chatting to my dad about Holly staying with them during our holiday - I'm feeling a little happier about this now, but I think he is entitled to know what issues I've had recently. I'm still monitoring, obviously, but I'm a bit more hopeful that things are starting to get back to something like normal. :)

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