Cat Losing Weight? Here’s How You Can Help

When thinking about your cat’s health, the first thought we often have regards their size. Is my cat obese? Although having an overweight cat is concerning, a skinny cat may also be a serious issue. So, why might your cat be losing weight? 

The answer isn’t quite clear. When a cat’s weight loss is unintended, this can cause other more serious health issues like diabetes, cancer, and other organ failures. If you notice any sudden weight loss in your cat while maintaining the same diet and exercise schedule, then you should see your vet immediately.

However, with the right amount of tender love and care, you can reverse your cat’s weight loss problem. Let’s look at the potential causes of weight loss in cats, the signs to look for to determine if your cat is losing weight, and possible solutions to this issue.

Why Is My Cat Losing Weight?

There are several possible reasons as to why your cat is losing weight. Certain factors such as age and underlying health issues may play a role in your cat’s unintentional weight loss. 

Though if your cat is a picky eater — refusing their current kibble until you provide an alternative — it is best to take serious care of any weight loss in your feline friend.  Doing so ensures it is not a life-threatening health concern. 

Here are several conditions that might lead to weight loss in cats:

Stress 

Just like their owners, cats may experience moments of great unease. This psychological distress can lead to weight loss in cats because they may ignore their food, forgetting to eat. Certain factors that upset your cat include loud noises, bright lights, strangers, other animals, new environments, and many others.

Some cats may have separation anxiety depending on their behavior when you leave for work — refusing to eat their food until you return. The most common issue that would bring about any stress to a cat is any disruption from their daily rituals and environment.

Dental Problems

If you notice your cat is not eating, the issue could be as simple as a toothache. Signs such as pawing at the mouth and drooling can insinuate that your cat may be experiencing some dental problems.

Dental issues like gingivitis, mouth ulcers, or a sore tooth can make it difficult for a cat to chew and swallow their food. If you notice any signs that your cat’s teeth might be upsetting them, bring your cat to the vet as soon as possible.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Issues within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract could lead to cat weight loss. The GI tract includes all the areas connected to the digestive system. So any issues related to the GI tract can directly affect whether your cat can eat or not.

Symptoms such as lack of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea may all point to issues related to the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to your cat losing weight. Other issues related to the GI tract include food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and certain infections.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that is caused by a failure of the body to produce the hormone insulin. Without this key function, a cat may experience weight loss and loss of appetite. Diabetic cats may drink an excessive amount of water, urinate more often, develop urinary tract infections, and have abnormally scented breath.

Diabetes can be controlled through proper medication and a strict diet. If you discover that your cat is diabetic, bringing them to the vet and see what they recommend.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a virus that commonly occurs in cats raised in catteries or cat homes. Cats with FIP are prone to significant weight loss because it can cause severe fever, leading to a loss in appetite. FIP is particularly concerning because antibodies may have difficulty controlling the fever because it can mutate into a more harmful virus.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition most common in middle-aged cats which affects the metabolism. It causes the metabolism to overwork, leading to a cat’s weight loss, high heart rate, losing patches of hair, hunger, and trouble sleeping. Other signs that a cat may be suffering from hyperthyroidism is if your cat is drinking a lot of water and urinating large amounts.

To determine if hyperthyroidism is the cause of your cat’s weight loss, you will need to bring your cat to the vet to do bloodwork. Treatment for this condition includes prescribed food, hormone medication, and radioactive iodine treatment.

skinny black cat looking into camera

Is It Normal for My Cat to Lose Weight?

Depending on the situation, it can be normal for your cat to lose weight. If your cat was getting a bit heavy and you put your cat on a nutritious diet, then weight loss is normal and understandable.

However, if your cat experiences any unintentional weight loss, then it might be of concern. It is important to understand that a cat’s body percentage is different from a human’s. If a cat only weighs 10 pounds, a 20% weight loss could be a substantial risk to their overall health.

Is It Normal for Cats to Lose Weight as They Age?

Although it is rather common for cats to lose weight as they age, it is not particularly a good sign. Many cats begin to lose weight as they get older because they may develop a medical condition to cause such an issue. Conditions such as kidney or thyroid disease usually occur at an older age, so the connection between weight loss and a cat’s age is understandable. 

We recommend that you bring your cat to the vet if you notice your cat is losing weight, especially if they are older.

How Can I Tell If My Cat is Losing Weight?

It can be hard to determine if your cat has shed a few pounds of fur, not fat. If your cat tends to grow fluffy, you might not be able to tell at a glance whether or not your cat is losing any weight.

Using your eyes to gauge their weight might not be the best method. Though, one approved method of visually identifying weight change in your cat is by viewing their body from above. In doing so, there should be a noticeable amount of tuck at their waist. If there is not, then it is a sign your cat is malnourished and is not doing too great.

A more physical approach to observing your cat’s weight is   by running your hands along your cat’s sides. When you do this, the ribs should be palpable with only a thin covering of fat. If your cat is beginning to show signs of weight loss, the ribs protrude and are visible.

How Much Weight Loss is Too Much for a Cat?

It is important to keep in mind that the body weight of a cat is much different from a human. If a human loses 2-3 lbs in a week, this can be a good thing due to the proportion to the entire body. However, with a cat that only weighs 10 lbs, losing 2-3 lbs is significant.

When limiting calorie intake for your pet, veterinarians follow these two rules for any desired weight loss: 

  • Your cat should only be losing about 0.5-2% of its body weight per week. 
  • If your cat weighs about 20 lbs, your pet’s weight loss goal should be somewhere between 0.2-0.4 lbs (about 4 oz) per week.

What Should I Do If My Cat is Losing Weight?

If your cat’s weight loss is sudden and unintentional, it is highly recommended to visit a vet to get a checkup. Cats tend to hide their illnesses and injuries with their fur,so it is always good to check on your cats often.

Finding out the root cause of any health problems early is important to avoid more serious issues down the line. Especially with cats that have very distinct personalities. Some cats may try to play it off like nothing is wrong, making it harder for owners to spot any signs of their distress. 

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your cat is well-kept:

Find More Appetizing, High-Quality Food

Depending on your cat’s personality, they can be picky eaters — in order to eat, the perfect conditions must be met. For example, some cats may not like eating food from their bowl, and they only want to eat a certain flavor of food.

If you start to notice your cat is not eating, or they grow disinterested in their food all of a sudden, try experimenting a bit with different brands and see if anything sticks. Similarly, try looking for premium cat food high in protein to ensure weight gain if your cat is already a bit underweight.

Regulate Their Feeding Schedule

Cats can be very particular about their eating routine and only eat when the circumstances are just right. Cats can also be very specific about the time they eat, who is around when they decide to eat, and where their food is placed.

If you are not already keeping your cat on a regular eating schedule, try finding the time to eat and continue this each day until it is because of a habit. Keeping your cat on a regular feeding schedule will help ensure that your cat is eating. It also can make it much easier to monitor if any weight loss occurs.

Disgruntled cat waiting for their cbd dose

Can I Give My Cat CBD?

Yes! CBD is an excellent and natural compound derived from the hemp plant responsible for a wide range of benefits for your cat. CBD increases appetite, which may help with their weight loss.

Known to have many calming and soothing effects, CBD is a cannabinoid compound that interact with your cat’s body. The best part about CBD is that it is non-psychoactive, so you do not have to worry about your cat getting any intoxicating feelings. 

CBD can be a great supplement if your cat is having difficulty keeping its food down. By providing some CBD for your cat, it can help boost their hunger and encourage healthier eating habits. This happens because CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the digestive system, which team up with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to bring about many beneficial properties. 

CBD is also perfect for your squirrelly  feline friend. As stated earlier, stressful situations can cause your cat to not eat. With CBD your cat may become calm,  which may encourage them to eat something.

At HolistaPet, we offer a variety of CBD products for cats, including delicious CBD cat treats made with natural ingredients and full-spectrum CBD.

What Can Happen if a Cat Loses Too Much Weight?

If your cat begins to lose too many pounds,  it may be a more serious latent health issue. It is recommended that you take your cat to the vet as soon as possible to determine the cause of the weight loss.

If your cat is malnourished and cannot maintain a healthy weight, several issues may occur: 

  • Various Neurologic Symptoms: When your cat is not receiving all the nutrients they need daily, neurological issues can occur. These symptoms may lead to possible seizures.
  • Hepatic Lipidosis: Hepatic Lipidosis is a life-threatening condition that can lead to fatal liver failure. This condition develops when a cat consistently uses their fat storage for energy after 24-48 hours without food.
  • Refeeding Syndrome: If a cat goes too long without food, its body burns through its storage of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. This may cause an electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to organ dysfunction. This lack of nutrients can be fatal.

Final Thoughts – Cats Losing Weight

Keeping our cats healthy and happy is the main goal for any pet owner. One key aspect of sustaining your cat’s health is ensuring that they are munching their food and staying at a healthy weight. 

Stay as curious as your cat when it comes to monitoring their weight. By doing so, it helps avoid any further serious health issues related to your cat’s weight.

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