Should I Be Worried About My Cat’s Weight Loss?
WEIGHT LOSS IN CATS
Many owners get worried more when their cats gain weight than when they lose weight. The cause of the weight gain may be simply because the cat is eating too much, but weight loss usually has more underlying causes. While there is no specified healthy weight for cats, a weight loss of about one pound (which accounts for 10% of the cat’s weight) is cause for alarm.
It may not be very obvious to you when your cat starts losing weight especially if your cat has been at a healthy weight for a number of years. However, there are some open-ended questions you should ask yourself:
- Is the cat eating less?
- Has the cat been expending more energy? Maybe by running around more or just playing with a new friend.
- Has there been a change in diet lately?
- Has your pet recently been sick or given medications?
Generally, weight loss occurs when more calories are being expended than are consumed. The cause of weight loss may be due to age, stress or medical reasons. While weight loss isn’t a disease in itself it may be a sign of an underlying problem. Some of such problems or factors that may lead to weight loss in a cat include:
- Pregnancy or nursing
- Prolonged exposure to cold
- Insufficient calorie intake (it is important to strike a balance on a healthy calorie intake, so you do not over feed your cat)
- Organ failure (kidney, liver, heart failure)
- Gastrointestinal obstructions
- Skin lesions that ooze and cause loss of protein
- Disorders of the central nervous system that interfere with eating or appetite
- Viral, parasitic, fungal and bacterial infections
The cause may also be due to things as simple as:
- The quality of the food (i.e., its taste, freshness)
- The cleanliness of the serving plate
- The distance between the litter box and the feeding station. Cats are very clean and so this factor must be considered.
- Toothache:A seeming loss of appetite, drooling and pawing at the mouth may be signs of a tooth issue.
MANAGEMENT OF WEIGHT LOSS IN CATS
In order to determine the underlying cause of the weight loss in your cat, your veterinarian will do a complete blood work, urinalysis and a physical exam. Thereafter, they will recommend treatment or dietary modifications depending on the cause of the weight loss.
If the cause of weight loss is due to old age, it can be treated in most cases, if not completely cured. For cats with gastrointestinal conditions, appropriate changes may be made to the diet and also, an easily digested diet may be recommended. In some situations, reducing the stressful activities your cat is exposed to and also including appetite-stimulating foods may just be the key to getting your cat out of its anorexic state and on to a healthier weight.
It is important to visit your veterinarian when you notice weight loss symptoms. The earlier you diagnose the problem, the better the chance of recovery for your cat.