Have you ever wondered why your cat is skinny? Part of being a responsible pet owner is making sure our cats are the right size and weight for their age and breed. After all, we all want our pets to be happy and healthy.
Keeping a close eye on your cat is a good habit to develop. Doing so will allow you to detect any health problems early on. It’s usually easy to spot an overweight cat, but if your cat looks a little skinny around the hips, do you know what to do?
Weight loss can be caused by many factors. These include diet, anxiety, intestinal worms and a variety of diseases. This is more common in older cats, but keeping an eye on your cat’s girth is a good idea at any age.
healthy weight for cats
There is no specific “correct” weight for cats as it varies with age, breed, sex and size. The best way to tell if your cat is at a healthy weight is to pay attention to their overall condition. Judging a cat’s physical condition should be done by gentle touch, as viewing them from a distance can be inaccurate because their fur blocks the view. Their condition can be checked periodically, perhaps as part of a grooming regime. This means that if your cat starts to lose weight, you will notice it very quickly.
At an ideal weight, a cat’s ribs are invisible but easily palpable. They will have a pronounced “waistline” or tummy, and only a small amount of belly fat. An underweight cat will have more prominent bones, especially the ribs, hips, and vertebrae around the rear end. They will have a very prominent waist. If the cat is underweight, you may be able to see their spine.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has published a useful guide to scoring cat body condition.
If you’re concerned about your cat’s weight, you can also make it a habit to weigh them frequently. An easy way to do this is to weigh yourself, then hold the cat and weigh again. Your weight can then be subtracted from the total weight, leaving the cat’s weight. Be aware that due to the small size of cats, small changes in their weight can be significant, requiring an accurate scale.
If your cat is losing weight, consult a veterinarian. Any weight loss is likely to be significant and worth looking into. Watch for other symptoms, such as changes in appetite or thirst, changes in urination, and any episodes of vomiting or diarrhea.
Why Cats Get Thin
There are many reasons why your cat’s rear end may look thin, some more serious than others. Many of these causes are health issues that may require a veterinarian.
If your cat’s back appears thinner but they are not losing weight, it may be due to their breed. Some cat breeds, such as the Devon Rex, Cornish, and Russian Blue, are known for their slender physiques and prominent skeletal landmarks.
These breeds can still become underweight and should still be in good health. If you are concerned about their weight, consult a professional veterinarian.
Also read: Cat Weight Calculator
Aging can cause many changes in a cat’s physical condition. Typically, as we age, there is loss of muscle mass and changes in weight and appearance. This is normal.
However, if the cat’s shape changes, there may be an underlying problem, such as painful arthritis that causes immobility, or toothache that causes loss of appetite. Older cats are also more prone to certain medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism and kidney disease.
Also read: The Complete Guide to Cat Teeth Cleaning
If cats aren’t eating enough calories, they can lose weight on their rear ends. This could be due to dietary changes, lack of protein, or other pets preventing them from reaching the food bowl.
Cats can be fed wet food, dry food or a combination of both, but it is important that they receive a complete and balanced diet appropriate for their lifestyle and age. Cats are carnivores and depend on adequate amounts of high-quality animal protein for optimal nutrition.
Also Read: 7 Best Cat Foods for Overweight Cats
Anxiety, depression, and stress can all contribute to poor physical condition in cats. Stressed cats may hide, become lethargic, and lose their appetite. Anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, including changes in the environment, new pets or family members, or noise from construction. Consult a veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist if you notice changes in your cat’s behavior, especially their eating behavior as well as changes in weight.
5. Intestinal Parasites
Intestinal parasites such as tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms can cause progressive illness in cats. This may be accompanied by increased appetite and a distended abdomen. You may see worms or worm eggs in your cat’s stool, but your cat’s small intestine may contain worms, but you won’t see any worms in the poop. The veterinarian will be able to check your cat’s stool for microscopic evidence of worms and eggs and treat your cat accordingly.
Also read: How much and how often cats should eat
There are various medical conditions that can cause weight loss in cats. This often results in them looking skinny on the rear end.
Diabetes is an insulin disorder in cats that causes weight loss and increased thirst and urination. Cats with this disorder have poor appetite and, if blood glucose levels are not corrected, may develop a diabetic crisis with acute vomiting and lethargy.
Hyperthyroidism is caused by too much thyroid hormone in circulation, which can lead to weight loss despite a high appetite. These cats also often experience increased thirst and urination and some degree of hyperactivity or hypervigilance leading to behavioral changes.
Gastrointestinal disorders such as food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infections, or tumors such as lymphoma can all have weight loss as the main symptom. You may see other stomach symptoms, such as a change in appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Feline viral diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), cancer, kidney disease, and liver disease can all cause cats to lose their health, often before any other symptoms appear.
Also read: 10 Subtle Signs Your Cat May Be Sick
What to do when your cat loses weight
If you notice that your cat’s rear end looks thin, your best bet is to make an appointment with the veterinarian. Any degree of weight loss in cats is a problem, and if there is any underlying disease, it is best to diagnose and treat it early.
Make a note of anything relevant to your veterinarian — any dietary changes, any supplements or medications (such as antiparasitic treatments), or any other symptoms or changes in your home. The veterinarian will be able to perform a full physical examination and perform any lab tests that may be needed.
Also read: Making Cat Food: Explaining Homemade and Raw Cat Food Diets
Skinny Cats: Final Thoughts
Assessing a cat’s weight can be difficult, especially if they have thick fur. Regular check-ups of cats allow for an accurate assessment of their condition. Look for changes, such as a thinner rear end. There are many reasons why cats lose weight. A visit to the veterinarian is usually required to decide how to resolve the problem.
Also Read: The Complete Guide to Feline Nutrition
frequently asked questions
Why is my cat’s back so skinny?
If you can see or feel your cat’s vertebrae, they are probably underweight. Weight loss in cats is always important and can be caused by a variety of health issues. A visit to the veterinarian is recommended.
Why is my cat thin but still eating?
If your cat has a good appetite but is losing weight, they may be eating poorly or have a medical problem, such as intestinal parasites or an overactive thyroid. Check with the veterinarian to discuss their weight, diet and any underlying health issues.
Why does my cat have sunken hips?
If your cat has a lean rear end, they may have lost weight or muscle mass. This can be due to a dietary problem, or due to a medical condition such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes.
Is my cat underweight if I can feel his spine?
If you can see your cat’s lumbar spine, or feel them easily, your cat is underweight. They either need some dietary intervention, or they may have health problems that lead to weight loss.
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