If you have noticed that your cat is looking a little leaner than normal recently, then you might also be wondering why this is. Many older cats, in particular, lose weight — but why? This article explores some of the possible reasons that your cat is losing weight, as well as what you should do about it!
Why is my cat losing weight?
Why is my cat losing weight but still eating?
Some cats can lose weight despite having a good appetite. Cats with hyperthyroidism will often present like this. The increase in their metabolism usually causes them to have an excellent appetite but their weight will drop as they are burning energy. Cats with diabetes can be similar. Some cats with tummy problems can have a keen appetite but lose weight through vomiting and diarrhea.
What will my veterinarian do?
Your veterinarian will usually start with a physical examination, to look for signs of dental disease but also to check for any physical abnormalities such as an enlarged thyroid gland. They will listen to your cat’s chest to assess their heart and lungs, and also feel their abdomen for any issues. Your vet will weigh your cat and may be able to check it against any previously recorded weights to get an idea of the severity of their weight loss.
It may be recommended that your cat has further tests such as blood work and urine samples. Blood samples can check for a few different health complaints. An elevation in kidney values can be an indicator that your cat’s kidneys are struggling to function well, or a raised thyroid hormone will help diagnose hyperthyroidism and a high blood sugar level can point towards diabetes. A urine sample is often used as well to confirm the diagnosis of some of these conditions.
Your veterinarian may need to suggest diagnostic imaging in some cases, such as X-rays or ultrasound, especially when the initial results aren’t pointing to a problem. This doesn’t mean the blood tests weren’t needed though – they’re a great way to rule out lots of common conditions. Whilst it can feel frustrating getting a negative result, your vet is working through a list of possibilities, and crossing lots of them off with a negative result is useful too!
Treatment options will then be discussed depending on your veterinarian’s findings.
Is weight loss normal in older cats or a cause for concern?
Many older cats lose a bit of weight as they get older, small amounts can be normal but larger decreases are often due to an underlying health problem.
You should always take your cat to your veterinarian as soon as you think there may be an issue. Many of the conditions that we have described do far better if you intervene early. So, if you suspect that your cat is losing weight or has any other symptoms then take them for a check-up! If your veterinarian can’t identify any cause for concern then at least you can put your mind at rest.
If your vet rules out common conditions, a small amount of weight loss may not be a big concern. However, you should start to weigh your cat regularly to see if his weight continues to fall over time so that you can intervene if necessary.
What happens if a cat loses too much weight?
If a cat loses too much weight it can start to become weakened and less able to fight off infections. The underlying complaint is also progressing during this time and could be causing other health issues in addition to the weight loss itself. Left untreated your cat could start to suffer from blood pressure issues, pain or problems with vomiting and diarrhea.
There are a number of reasons your cat could be losing weight. The best thing to do is to take your cat to the veterinarian so that they can try and work it out for you! They will also be able to suggest whether any treatments or diet changes are required, so book an appointment sooner rather than later to get your pet checked out.
Want more free vet advice? Check out some of our other Ask-a-Vet posts:
- My Cat is Suddenly Pooping a Lot: Is it Normal? (Vet Answer)
- Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Undigested Food? (Vet Answer)
- My Cat’s Nose is Dry: Is This Normal? (Vet Answer)
Featured image credit: Hanish, Pixabay