Sudden weight loss in cats can be scary. After all, even if our cats act fine, sudden weight loss is almost always a sign of something wrong. Cats are very good at hiding their discomfort, in part stemming from an evolutionary adaptation to not show signs of illness, which could lead to becoming more easily preyed upon. Even today, our domestic cats may exhibit this behavior.
If your feline is suddenly losing weight, it is vital to figure out why in order to determine how to best intervene. Here is a list of reasons your cat may suddenly lose weight, as well as potential fixes. Many of them do require veterinary attention.
The 8 Reasons for Sudden Weight Loss in Cats
1. Anxiety and Stress
Serious stress and depression can cause weight loss. After all, cats under stress usually experience a loss of appetite, which can negatively affect their eating. Therefore, cats often lose weight when stressed for an extended period.
There are many things that can stress out your cat. For instance, several “normal” things can stress your cat, such as changes in routine. It doesn’t have to be a huge life-changing event for your cat to be stressed out.
Diabetes can make a cat less able to utilize the energy that they eat. Therefore, while the cat is eating, they are not actually using the energy, which will lead to weight loss. Diabetes can often lead to severe and rapid weight loss, though it can also occur slowly over a long period of time.
Cancer can lead to weight loss due to the metabolic effects of the disease. Often, cats with cancer simply appear to act not like themselves, eat less, and lose a lot of muscle mass.
4. Feline Infectious Peritonitis
This virus is usually typically abbreviated as FIP and is common in cats that are kept in close quarters. It is extremely contagious. Usually, this condition is categorized as a wasting disease, which means that the cat slowly loses weight until they are malnourished. Some forms of FIP are deadly in many cases and treatment is often difficult.
Hyperthyroidism is characterized by an overactive thyroid gland, which secretes excess thyroid hormone, which controls how the body utilizes energy. Therefore, with too much of this hormone, a cat will usually lose a significant amount of weight.
Sometimes, hyperthyroidism is caused by a tumor on the thyroid. However, this tumor isn’t always cancerous. Cats with hyperthyroidism will also have a number of other symptoms, and it can lead to death in extreme cases.
6. Intestinal Parasites
Internal parasites can lodge in your cat’s bowels and partially break down the food that your cat eats. Many cats have parasites that are never discovered if the feline host is asymptomatic. However, in many cases, a cat with many parasites may be unable to eat. Symptoms are not always obvious with parasites but may typically include diarrhea, bloody stool, and inappetence. However, most can be detected by a simple stool sample, which is luckily pretty easy to get from your cat’s litter box.
7. Organ Failure
Cats with organ failure will often lose weight. When their organs begin shutting down, cats cannot often metabolize their food. In the end, this leads to weight loss. However, this is usually a later-stage symptom. Therefore, if your cat is losing weight because of organ failure, they probably have other symptoms, as well. Kidney disease in older cats is the most common instance of this condition.
8. Tooth Problems
If a cat has tooth problems, they may not eat as readily as they previously did. Therefore, you’ll need to get your teeth checked by a vet. Often, there aren’t many signs of toothache, as cats are very good at hiding their pain. Visual signs aren’t always obvious until much later—past the point where your cat should be seen and treated.
There are a lot of possible reasons that your feline may be losing weight. Therefore, we highly recommend visiting your vet for testing. Many of these conditions are quite serious and complicated. Therefore, we do not recommend trying to self-diagnose at home. Treatment by a vet quickly can mean the difference between catching a disease early and catching it too late.
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