For many cat owners, a main concern is preventing obesity and keeping their cats at a healthy weight. However, unintentional weight loss in cats can be a warning sign of an underlying medical problem. So, you might be asking yourself, “why is my cat losing weight but still eating?”
If you notice that your cat is still eating well, but losing weight, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible, as these symptoms may have an underlying medical cause. In cats, a main concern is not eating at all, or anorexia coupled with a reduced appetite which can lead to something called hepatic lipidosis, or “fatty liver.”
Hepatic lipidosis occurs when large quantities of fat are stored in the liver in order to provide energy to the body. This storage of fat in the liver is a response to not eating, and is very dangerous for cats as the increase of fat stored in the liver can lead to liver failure, and eventually death. There are many reasons that cats may lose weight while still eating well, and it’s always best to consult your veterinarian if you’re concerned.
Cats are special creatures, and many things can lead to weight loss, even if your cat is still a good eater, and several causes are listed below. However, it’s recommended that you consult your veterinarian first.
GI issues can contribute to weight loss in your cat, and the symptoms can vary from vomiting to diarrhea. Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can affect the absorption of nutrients in the GI tract and contribute to weight loss, even if your cat is eating well.
Other causes may be related to food allergies or certain GI infections. If you think your cat is suffering from GI issues, consult with your veterinarian about getting a diagnosis and treatment. Your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet to help with nutrient absorption, and to reduce inflammation and GI irritation.
Another possible cause of weight loss in cats who are still eating is intestinal parasites. If your cat is a hunter, or routinely hunts small rodents or rabbits, she may be exposed to GI parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms. Intestinal parasites and worms interfere with the absorption of nutrients in the GI tract, and can cause weight loss.
Although cats with intestinal parasites don’t always show symptoms, they may have some vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating. If you suspect that your cat has intestinal parasites, contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may ask you to submit a fecal sample so that she can determine if your cat does have parasites, and if so, she can prescribe the appropriate medication for your cat. Many dewormers come in liquid form, and should be easy to administer to your cat.
It’s not uncommon for older cats to experience weight loss, and sometimes it can be difficult to find the cause because a cat’s metabolism changes with age. Kidney disease, or renal insufficiency, becomes more common as cats age, and symptoms include weight loss and increased drinking and urination.
Although cats with kidney disease don’t typically eat that well, if you suspect that your cat has this condition, contact your veterinarian. Blood and urine tests can determine how well your cat’s kidneys and other organs are functioning, and your veterinarian can recommend ways to keep weight on your cat.
Hyperthyroidism occurs most often in older cats, and the symptoms usually include weight loss coupled with a voracious appetite. Hyperthyroidism is usually thought of as a disease in senior cats but can be diagnosed as early as six years of age, with an average age of 13 years old.
You may suspect that your cat is eating more than normally, but still continues to lose weight. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that can result from a tumor on the thyroid gland, or an overactive thyroid which elevates levels of thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is responsible for the regulation of the body’s metabolism, and controls muscle, brain, heart and digestive functions.
Also, hyperthyroid cats can present with increased drinking and urination, increased vocalization and activity, diarrhea, vomiting, and gradual muscle wasting. Hyperthyroidism causes weight loss because cats just can’t get enough calories to meet her increased metabolism, and your cat will also be very active almost all of the time.
Hyperthyroid cats are essentially in a state of starvation despite eating well, so as as result, increasing food intake by itself will not solve the issue. Hyperthyroid cats can eat, and eat, and eat and still lose weight.
In later stages, untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to cardiac problems, hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease. These conditions require medical attention kin order to reduce the likelihood of blindness, stroke, heart failure, and death.
If you suspect that your cat has hyperthyroidism, contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can do a blood test to assess thyroid function, and prescribe thyroid medication and other treatment options if needed.
An exam with your veterinarian is the first step in finding out why your cat is still eating but losing weight. Your veterinarian will do a complete physical, blood work, a urinalysis and other diagnostic tests. Depending on what your veterinarian finds, treatment recommendations for your cat may vary.
If your cat has been diagnosed with GI issues or IBD, your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet, and oral medications to help increase the absorption of nutrients and restore your cat to a healthy weight. If your cat has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, you and your veterinarian will go over several treatments options and possible dietary changes. In any case, it is important to offer your cat a well-rounded diet that meets all of their nutritional needs.
If you think your cat is losing weight, but your cat is still eating well, or if you have concerns about any other changes in your cat’s health, contact your local veterinarian in Sewell, NJ to schedule a thorough physical exam.