Does your elderly cat lose weight, even if it eats normally? Here's what you need to know

Here's what to do if your elderly cat loses weight, even if it eats normally.

Does your elderly cat lose weight, even if it eats normally? Here's what you need to know

Have you noticed that your elderly cat is losing weight and are concerned about its health? Unfortunately, weight loss can be common amongst our cat friends who now have a "grey" coat. It is a sign that should not be overlooked as it sometimes indicates the presence of serious illnesses.

In this article we will look at what can cause your cat to lose weight, explain why it is essential that your cat always maintains the correct weight and give you some tips on how to act in these cases.

What may be the causes of weight loss in elderly cats?

As mentioned above, weight loss is a fairly common condition in elderly cats.

In general, it can be said that small changes in weight are quite normal with age.

However, in the case of sudden, rapid changes, it is important to try to determine whether there a disease is causing these changes.

Studies published in the Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery in 2016 [1] highlighted important observations to keep in mind.

This research found that a loss of 100 g body weight in elderly cats can increase the risk of death by 6.4%.

Moreover, if we talk about muscle mass (i.e. the part of the body without fat and therefore the part consisting of protein mass, glycogen, water, minerals and primary fat) a loss of 100 g can increase the risk of death by 20 %.

However, if we talk about fat mass (i.e. the total amount of lipids in the body), these same studies have shown that for every 100 g of body fat loss, the risk of death increases by 40%.

This confirms the importance of regular veterinary check-ups because the vet can assess your cat's health and determine its body condition with appropriate and specific instruments. In the event of any abnormalities, they can run the necessary tests.

What is geriatric sarcopaenia?

Sarcopaenia is a disease that can affect a cat when its coat starts to become quite grey.

This situation is marked by the loss of muscle mass and thus muscle strength due to the inevitable ageing of the body and the organism.

Sarcopaenia is common in all elderly cats and occurs whether or not they have some chronic diseases.

Loss of muscle mass not only leads to a reduction in the strength of our four-legged friend, but also to a decrease in the body's defences and ability to recover after illness, injury or surgery.

This means that the cat may become ill more easily and is weaker.

As you can probably imagine, it is impossible to avoid sarcopaenia, because it is a direct consequence of getting older. However,  what you can do is slow down the loss of muscle mass by keeping it constant and controlled, just like your body weight.

Many studies have shown that a diet richer in protein helps to slow down the decline in muscle mass and is therefore an excellent aid to the cat’s health and life.

However, no matter how much protein a food contains, it is always essential that it is of excellent quality and of animal origin.

On this subject, we suggest you read our guide to feeding elderly cats.

Why do elderly cats lose weight?

In addition to sarcopaenia, there are other causes of weight loss in elderly cats.

In general, weight loss in cats is to the result of a loss of appetite due to a reduced sense of taste or smell. With age, cats may lose interest in food.

If, on the other hand, the cat loses weight, even though it eats normally, the causes may be very different. Let's look at a quick and easy list below:

  • Diseases of the digestive tract. These diseases can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites and lead to vomiting and diarrhoea in the cat. As a result, the cat loses weight due to poor absorption of nutrients from the food it eats.
  • Food intolerances. If a cat is allergic to or intolerant to a food, it may suffer from intestinal disorders. Poor food absorption by the body causes weight loss.
  • Thyroid enlargement. This is a very common disorder in adult and elderly cats. It is usually accompanied by an increased appetite and seemingly unexplained weight loss. Thyroid enlargement usually occurs in cats over 10 years of age.
  • Kidney problems. Symptoms of kidney problems include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst, lack of interest, dehydration and weight loss. These problems are common in cats over 10 years of age.
  • Diabetes mellitus. This disease, which can be hereditary, is characterised by the body having problems using sugar for energy. Because the body releases too much insulin, the sugar cannot be absorbed by the organs and remains in the blood. The body then uses fats and proteins for energy instead. In general, diabetes is linked to weight gain and obesity, but in some cases, it can cause significant weight loss.
  • Breathing problems. These problems can alter the cat's sense of smell and make it lose interest in food.
  • Stress. Distress and stress can also cause a cat to lose weight and it is important to consider this to see if any changes may have affected the domestic cat.

What to do if your cat loses weight

Now that you have a clearer idea of what can cause your cat to lose weight, we would like to give you some quick, easy tips on how to deal with these cases.

Firstly, as we have seen, it is very important that you try to maintain your cat's body weight and muscle mass.

The right balanced diet will always help.

Choose foods rich in high-quality protein, with vitamins and antioxidants to boost the body's defence system, low in phosphorus to support kidney health, and with the right amount of fibre to ensure a healthy tummy.

Always remember the importance of fluids in your cat's diet: encourage your cat to drink fresh, clean water and don't forget the importance of wet food to supplement the correct amount of fluids, even in cats that don't like water very much.

In addition, daily physical activity helps to maintain muscle mass. We advise you to stimulate your cat and play with him every day: you will both have fun, and you will do a great deal of good for its health.

Finally, as mentioned above, it is important to schedule regular visits and tests with your vet to keep your cat's health under control at all times and to intervene in time if necessary.

If your elderly cat is losing weight, we hope that this article has given you useful tips on how to intervene quickly and help your cat to regain his or her ideal body weight.

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