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Weight Loss in Cats

Picture of a brown cat

Cats don’t always show signs of an illness, and if you’ve noticed that your feline friend has been losing a little weight, you might be wondering what’s happening.

The causes of unintentional weight loss can vary from a more serious condition to stress and other lifestyle changes. In this post, we are looking at most of the reasons your cat could be losing weight.

Gastrointestinal problems

Gastrointestinal problems can be caused by a variety of health conditions, from bacterial and viral disease to intestinal parasites. Most of the symptoms associated with a gastrointestinal syndrome almost always involve diarrhea and vomiting, but a lack of appetite isn’t uncommon, either.

Intestinal parasites can lead to the same clinical signs, but severe infestations can also involve bloating, as well as difficult breathing.

Kidney disease

Most geriatric cats can lose weight without necessarily being sick, but they can shed one or two pounds on account of organ failure. Out of all of the health problems that can affect senior cats, kidney disease is the most common one.

Since a blood test can identify any urinary tract problems and kidney-related pathologies, taking your cat to the vet clinic on a regular basis, especially once he or she gets older than 7 or 8 years of age, can be a life savior.

Not getting enough food

As obvious as this possible cause might seem, there are a number of reasons why your cat might not be eating enough. Cats that are in heat are almost always less interested in food, which can make them prone to developing a variety of health conditions.

Your cat might also not be willing to eat either because she doesn’t like what you are feeding her or because she can’t feed per se. Cats can have toothaches just like any other animals, and they are more common in older pets. The latter can also suffer from periodontal disease, which can make feeding very challenging.

Diabetes

Cats can suffer from diabetes just like people can. Insulin-dependent cats can have a poor general health status, but one of the symptoms you will notice is that they’ll start to lose weight even though they eat more than enough. They’ll also drink a lot of water, they may develop urinary tract infections, and they can be lethargic.

Hyperthyroidism

This is a condition that also affects geriatric cats more than it does young ones. In this disease, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, which can cause a variety of symptoms, from weight loss to increased water consumption and urination.

This is in fact why hypothyroidism can be mistaken for diabetes unless the right blood tests are performed. In this case, the animal will have a ravenous appetite or exhibit strange behaviors such as meowing for no particular reason and at night.

Fortunately, hyperthyroidism can often be treated with the right medication and the right diet, but there could be situations where the cat might have a tumor on her thyroid gland, in which case the therapy could be a little more complicated.

Cancer

Commonly associated with other clinical signs such as lethargy, hiding, and inappetence, cancer can be a possibility if your feline friend has been shedding pounds. Weight loss can be a symptom of cancer, especially in its last stages.
We recommend taking your cat to the vet once or twice a year for checkups to make sure that, in case she does get cancer, it is treatable.

Viral disease

A range of viral infections can lead to weight loss, but it is usually associated with other symptoms. Several examples of such conditions are Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Feline Leukemia Virus, and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

All of these diseases can be diagnosed by using simple blood tests.

Lifestyle changes that lead to anxiety

Cats can be stressed and anxious, and even depressed. This happens especially if there were significant changes made in their living environment, such as the addition of a new cat, moving house, renovations, and others.

Some cats can be scared by excess noise, so if you live in an area where there’s constantly work being done in the street, you might find it hard, if not impossible, to alleviate your cat’s symptoms. Some cats can even be stressed because their litter box is too close to their food and water bowls.

When should you be worried?

As we have noted at the beginning of the article, cats aren’t the best when it comes to showing illness symptoms, so sometimes even a responsible pet guardian might find it difficult to tell whether their feline buddy has lost some weight.

If you do notice it, going on a trip to the vet clinic is the best way of going about things, especially if your cat has suffered from other health problems in the past or she’s already older than 8.

Depending on the medical condition that the veterinarian will diagnose, your cat will recover in a shorter or longer amount of time. But regardless of the recovery process, how difficult it might be, or how long it might take, you have to pay some attention to your feline companion so that illnesses don’t become more severe.
If your cat is simply not eating enough food, ask the vet for several appetite stimulants. There are a large number of options currently available, and most of them actually do what they are supposed to. Switch your cat’s food (gradually, though) to a nutrient and calorie-dense one.

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