Ceasing Sudden Weight Loss in Cats
Just like us humans, your feline friend’s weight (whether over or underweight) is an indicator of existing or impending medical conditions, and any associated indications should be addressed in a timely manner. As pet parents, we seem to worry more about the weight our feline friends are accumulating than the weight they may suddenly be losing. Sudden weight loss or cachexia in cats should be managed with the same level of concern as drastic weight gain.
If you witness a sharp fall in your cat’s weight which exceeds ten percent of their usual body weight (when fluid loss is not responsible), this should be a cause for alarm. Read on to find out why drastic weight loss in your cat is menacing to their health and how to stop those shedding kilo’s in their tracks before causing permanent damage.
Causes of Weight Loss in Cats
If you notice a sudden drop in your purry pal’s appetite and they have simultaneously experienced drastic weight loss, chances are that they may be suffering from anorexia. This is a concerning medical situation for your feline friend as anorexia leaves feline’s prone to developing fatty liver syndrome, a potentially fatal condition in which the liver is required to metabolise large quantities of stored fat to provide the body with the energy it needs to function adequately.
In some cases, a cat might continue to retain their normal appetite and still undergo weight loss which may seem inexplicable. However, a number of reasons could clarify this mysterious observation. Excessive noise, dirty food bowls, bowls being too close to the litter tray, or other pets being present in your cat’s feeding quarters could set off psychological issues in these sensitive creatures, such as depression and stress, that could spur on sudden weight loss.
Medical conditions that could be related to this case include:
- neurologic disorders making it challenging for them to pick up or swallow food
- oesophagus paralysis
- heart, liver or kidney failure
- intestinal parasites
- gastrointestinal problems such as obstructions
- dental problems
- chronic blood loss
- pet food or diet quality
- feline infectious peritonitis
- pancreatic disease
- gallbladder disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
- surgical removal of segments of the bowel
- infections (bacterial, viral, fungal or chronic etc)
- Addison’s disease (where the adrenal glands underproduce the necessary corticosteroid hormones the body require)
- pregnancy or nursing
- prolonged exposure to cold
- skin lesions leading to significant loss of protein
Weight loss itself is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. A viable diagnosis will allow your vet to establish the root cause behind this symptom and how it presents itself with other clinical signs.
Your veterinarian will initiate their diagnostic examination with a series of tests to identify the primary cause for the weight loss. After conducting a general check-up of your feline companion, your vet may prescribe one or more of the following tests:
- ultrasound of abdomen, liver and gall bladder
- fecal studies
- detailed assessment of the pancreas
- bile acids test
- X-rays to check the condition of heart, abdominal organs and lungs
- Complete Blood Count (CBC)
- comprehensive biochemical profile
Based on the results of the physical exams and prescribed diagnostic tests, your vet may proceed to treat your kitty’s symptoms if they are too severe in nature for your cat to endure. Nonetheless, a treatment for the condition which is contributing to the weight loss will also be prescribed. This treatment will most likely be administered in association with dietary modifications to restore your cat’s physique to the optimal weight it once was. If your cat is experiencing conditions that make absorbing food challenging, your vet will recommend an easily-digestible dietary solution. Similarly, if your kitty is allergic to certain ingredients contained in their food, removing the offensive components could solve the weight loss problem entirely.
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If your kitty has lost their appetite and is consequently losing weight, it may even be necessary to intervene by way of force-feeding your cat with feeding tubes or intravenously to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients until the vet can treat the cause of anorexia. Appetite stimulants may also be prescribed to trigger hunger pangs.
As a responsible pet parent, ensure that you schedule regular physical examinations with your vet. Follow-up visits are also essential to closely monitor any changes in weight and keep track of your kitty’s treatment progress.
Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson
Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.