Are you worried that your cat is underweight?
7% of cats are underweight or very underweight. This means the issue is real and serious because a healthy weight is crucial to an overall feline’s well-being.
Today, we’ll be presenting you with healthy solutions and tips on how to fatten up a cat, plus a guide to help you understand the possible underlying reasons behind the unusual weight loss of your feline friend. Let’s get started!
How To Fatten Up A Cat
- Define the problem
- Find out why your cat is underweight
- Stress and Anxiety
- Caloric intake vs burn
- Medical conditions
- Gradually increase the amount of food or frequency of feeding
- Add more calories
- Try food rich in protein
- Try kitten food
- Try switching to wet/canned food
- Try syringe feeding
- Try shifting to a homemade diet
- Try using nutritional supplements
- Separate your cats during feeding
- Consider appetite stimulants
Is Your Cat Really Underweight?
The first step to solving any problem is, of course, admitting there’s one. But since your cat can’t actually tell you “I’m underweight”, you’ll have to define the issue yourself and determine whether it’s real or not.
The normal weight range of any feline pet depends on his/her breed, age, level of activity, and general health condition.
According to medical experts, most house cats should weigh around 10 pounds. However, this can vary from one cat to another depending on the factors we mentioned above, so you find a Maine Coon weighing 25 pounds while a Siamese cat weighs in at just 5 pounds, and both of them are evidently healthy.
Melissa Mustillo, DVM and veterinarian in Maryland, says that you should be able to feel the ribs of your cat, not see them.
The best way to know if your furball is too skinny is by paying your vet a visit. You can also use a weight calculator to get an indication of your cat’s body condition.
Why Is My Cat Underweight?
If your cat is indeed rated as underweight, then your next move should be figuring out why. You don’t want to start feeding him/her more or changing up his/her diet when that’s not even the problem. By blindly doing so, you can end up making the situation worse.
The following are a number of reasons that may be the cause of your cat’s weight loss:
There are many diseases that could drive your feline pet to lose weight, which is why your vet will probably run tests to find out if one of them is the culprit. Here are some of the most common disorders:
If your cat is suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder, such as diarrhea, constipation, gastroenteritis, or pancreatitis, then you’ll probably notice a drop in his/her weight.
Your vet can prescribe some medications and, typically, the condition can be treated in a couple of days. However, in serious cases, your cat may need long-term management to get better.
What happens when you experience a toothache or gum sores? You can’t eat like you normally would, right?
Well, in a similar way to us, cats can suffer from dental issues, such as sore teeth, tooth loss, and gum inflammation or ulcers, that cause pain while eating, so they end up avoiding food altogether.
Your vet should be able to let you know of such a problem and give you medical guidance on treating it.
Parasites that live inside your car, particularly in their intestinal tract, will feed off the nutrients in his/her food so it becomes nearly useless.
Such parasites include worms such as tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms, as well as microscopic organisms such as Giardia and Isospora.
These are common among felines and require medical intervention to get rid of.
Diabetes is another common disease, especially for older cats, where symptoms include increased appetite and frequent urination accompanied by abnormal weight loss and thirst
A lot of aging cats suffer from hyperthyroidism, a condition where your cat’s thyroid gland is producing too much thyroxine hormone which increases the metabolism in his/her body.
This can make it difficult for your feline pet to hold on to weight so it always seems underweight. Your vet can run a blood test to determine if this is the case.
Kidney disease is yet another reason for senior cats to demonstrate weight loss. The symptoms typically include frequent urination, increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody urine.
Stress and Anxiety
If your car is stressed or anxious for any reason, like moving to another house or having a new addition to the family, he/she can definitely fall into unusual eating habits where your cat ends up losing weight.
Cats are easily affected by stress and anxiety, so be sure to look out for such changes.
You could be giving your cat a lot of food but still, notice a decrease in his/her weight. This happens more than you’d expect, and the problem is usually that this food just doesn’t contain enough nutrients to build up weight.
Another reason for malnourishment could be some owners giving their cats table scraps or junk food, which does pretty much nothing to help with weight gain since it offers a low amount of calories and nutrients.
Caloric intake vs burn
Your cat may just be highly active so he/she burns off more calories going about different activities than how much he/she intakes from food.
This is especially true for kittens who spend the majority of their time running and jumping around. If this is the situation with your cat, then you shouldn’t discourage him/her from healthy exercise and exploring the world. Instead, stick to kitten food – more on that later.
How To Fatten Up Your Cat?
There are various methods that you can try to fatten up your feline which mainly revolve around the idea of stimulating your cat’s appetite or increasing his/her intake of calories.
Gradually increase the amount of food or frequency of feeding
Start with a simple approach which is to increase the amount of food in your cat’s bowl, but do it gradually so he/she can get used to eating more. This can be helpful to apply when introducing a new food, accompanied by a corresponding gradual decrease of the old food.
Also, you could try feeding your cat more frequently throughout the day, as opposed to just two times. Remember to offer smaller food portions, you don’t want to make your feline pet overweight!
Add more calories
A great way to pack more calories into your cat’s meals is by adding some grated parmesan or cheddar cheese on top of his/her food. This can also help boost your cat’s appetite so he/she eats more.
A little bit of plain yogurt can also be a good source of calories and a way to get your cat more excited for food.
Try food rich in protein
Protein can help your skinny cat put on weight in a healthy way as well as make his/her coat softer and shinier, so you should try giving your feline pet food that’s high in protein.
Such food will have a type of meat, such as chicken, fish, turkey, beef, or lamb, listed as its first ingredient on the packaging.
If the first ingredient is some sort of grain or meat byproduct, then it won’t do much for your cat to gain weight.
Try kitten food
Remember how we talked about kittens being highly energetic and active, and how this may lead them to burn off more calories than they consume?
Well, for this very reason, food that’s specially made for kittens contains a lot more protein, fat, and calories when compared to adult food.
So, it can be a pretty smart idea to try giving kitten food to your underweight feline pet. Just make sure you pick a high-quality type that’s grain-free and filler-free.
Additionally, if your cat is a picky early or a senior, then kitten food can be an even better choice since it’s more palatable and softer to munch on.
Try switching to wet/canned food
Your cat may not be a fan of the texture that dry food offers or he/she could be avoiding chewing on dry food because of dental issues that we discussed above.
Either way, the solution can simply be switching to wet or canned food. Such food is much easier to eat and digest, making your cat put on weight quickly. Be sure to carefully read the label for ingredients and calories.
You can try feeding your cat wet food 3 or 4 times throughout the day while leaving dry food out as a snack option between meals.
Try syringe feeding
If your cat has an impaired sense of smell, he/she may not be able to properly eat since cats are driven by sensory stimulation to like what’s in their food bowl.
In this case, syringe feeding can be a handy alternative to get your underweight cat to actually eat despite the missing aroma.
This method can also serve you when it comes to cats with poor appetite, as long as you use a very palatable wet food.
Try shifting to a homemade diet
Sometimes you just need a homemade meal to get you through a rough day, and for cats, a homemade diet can actually be a solution to their underweight issue, especially if wet food isn’t cutting it.
For a homemade diet, you can give your cat muscle meats as well as chopped heart, kidneys, and liver. Cats very much enjoy cooked chicken breast, minced chicken or beef, liver, and tuna. However, liver and tuna shouldn’t be on the menu for more than two days since they can cause some medical problems.
You can also try making your cat some fully-cooked scrambled eggs, but never undercooked. Avoid adding salt, pepper, or butter in any of your cat’s meals as they aren’t exactly good for them.
Try using nutritional supplements
Giving your underweight cat nutritional supplements can be highly beneficial when it comes to packing on weight. Such supplements can help your cat get extra calories and even pump up his/her appetite.
However, you should resort to this method only after speaking to your vet for approval and recommendations regarding certain products.
Separate your cats during feeding
If you’re an owner of several cats, this could be the very reason why one (or more) of them is underweight, especially if you feed them using the same bowl. Sometimes, older and more dominant cats can hog the bowl, preventing other cats from eating.
To solve such an issue, try feeding the underweight cat in a separate room to make sure he/she has access to a sufficient amount of food.
Consider appetite stimulants
Last but not least, you may need to consider using appetite stimulants if everything else just isn’t working or delivering satisfactory results.
Again, you shouldn’t turn to this solution without consulting your vet. They can prescribe your cat an appropriate stimulant based on his/her particular condition.
Such medications can be super helpful to get your cat eating if he/she suffers from a loss of appetite due to a disease.
There you have, the ins and outs of how to fatten up a cat along with tips that you can try right away! Just remember that your first step is to pay a visit to your vet to make sure your furball is healthy!