You’re cuddling up with your kitten after a long, hard day, and you notice that it’s a little lighter than usual. You take it to the vet, run a couple of tests and they all come back normal. Now you wonder, why is there weight loss in cats with normal blood work?
As a pet owner, you tend to worry a lot about your cat’s weight. Usually, you’re worried about your fluffy friend getting too heavy to run around and play, but weight loss can also be an issue. Especially when all the tests you’ve done have turned up normal and you don’t know what to do next.
It can be an overwhelming task to make sure your feline friend is always at a healthy weight, but there are things you can do. Together, we’ll find out why your kitty may be losing weight and what you can do to help.
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Weight Loss in Cats With Normal Blood Work – A Summary
Most of the time, the problem is a matter of nutrition. Your furry friend will either have a problem with its current diet or might have a health condition that didn’t show up on test results. Normal blood work doesn’t necessarily mean nothing is wrong. Contact your vet to see what further testing your cat may need.
Is My Cat Losing Weight a Problem?
More often than not, it isn’t. First, you have to ask, what’s the ideal, healthy weight for your cat? To make sure you get an accurate number, consider a couple of factors like its breed and age. Some cat breeds can be as light as five pounds, while others can be as heavy as 25 pounds and be healthy.
It can be really tricky to keep track of how much weight your furry buddy’s gaining or losing. This is because weight loss is usually very slow, and it’s hard to tell with all the fluffy fur. There are a couple of ways for you to track your pet’s weight:
- The Body Condition Score
- The Hand Test
To do The Hand Test, place your hand on the cat’s back. If it feels bony (like your knuckles), then it’s a ‘skinny cat’. If it feels like the back of your hand, then your cat is normal weight.
It’s completely normal for your cat to lose a little weight, it’s only concerning once it’s a ‘skinny cat’. This could lead to a serious condition called Hepatic Lipidosis (Fatty-Liver Syndrome). If you think that’s the case, make an appointment with the vet as soon as possible.
Why Is Your Cat Losing Weight?
The first thing you think when you start noticing your furball losing weight is that it’s not getting enough food. While in most cases that’s probably the reason, it isn’t always the problem. There are many things that could cause your cat to lose weight.
1. Eating Habits
Your cat may be staying away from food for many reasons.
It can be something simple like its usual treat is boring. Cats prefer variety when it comes to food. It’s completely normal for your kitten to love a certain treat one day and then refuse to eat it the next.
Or it could be something more complex, like seasonal changes affecting eating habits. This means that your furry friend will change how it eats depending on the weather. It’s normal for your cat to eat less during the summer, and eat more during the winter months to make sure they stay warm.
You should only start worrying if your cat is eating as much as it normally would, or more, and is still losing weight. If your cat has refused food altogether for more than a couple of days, take it to see the vet as soon as possible.
Another factor that you should consider is your feline friend’s age. A younger kitten will eat a lot, and very quickly, to keep up with its active lifestyle and growing body. As your kitten gets older, its nutritional needs and habits will change. Older cats tend to eat less often and are really picky about their food.
3. Emotional State
We all know that cats are very sensitive creatures, even though they choose to hide that. They go through a lot of the same emotions that we do. They can get stressed when they move to a new environment, have anxiety, or even depression. When this happens, they can eat less or stop eating altogether.
Make sure you create a warm, safe space for your furball. Address anything you think might be making it uncomfortable straight away.
Just like humans, cats’ bodies go through a lot with pregnancy. Their nutritional needs will change and so will how active they are. Sometimes this will also change what it usually likes to eat.
After giving birth, most cats tend to lose weight dramatically. It may eat twice or even three times as much as they normally would without gaining any weight. Depending on how many kittens it just had, it’s going to need a lot more food and water.
5. Medical Conditions
If you’ve crossed everything else off the list, then it’s probably a medical condition. Here are some medical reasons your cat may be losing weight:
- Intestinal Disease or parasite
- Dental Disease
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Heart Disease
- Feline Viral Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Each one will have its own set of tests. If you suspect a medical issue, the next step is to go to the vet and get a check-up.
What Is ‘Normal’ Blood Work?
You may be wondering if your cat’s blood work is ‘normal’, then why is it still losing weight? There are many types of tests that the vet can ask for. Each one detects something specific. So, depending on which one the vet ordered, the information will tell us different things.
Some of these tests may include:
- Urinalysis, to test for diabetes
- Stool Samples, to detect parasites
- Cytology, to screen for cancer
- Complete Blood Count (CBC), to check for infections and blood conditions
- Total Thyroid Level, to check hormone levels
- Blood Serum Chemistry, to detect kidney and liver problems
One of those tests coming back normal doesn’t mean that your cat’s healthy. Sometimes you need to investigate a little more to find out what’s really wrong. You’ll need a combination of these tests before deciding that the blood work is normal.
Your vet will do a combination of physical exams with these tests. If anything shows up on the tests, the vet will treat that first before addressing the weight loss.
How to Help Your Cat Gain Back Weight
How you deal with your feline’s weight loss will depend on what’s causing it. But, the good news is, it’s very treatable, even in older cats. There are many tips and tricks that you can try to get your feline friend back to its fighting weight.
- A balanced diet for your cat is crucial. It should include lots of proteins, a good amount of fat, and very few carbohydrates. They also need other minerals and vitamins. Both dry and canned food should have everything your cat needs.
- It’s also a good idea to give your feline friend free access to water. Hydration will help a lot with weight gain.
- Give your cat access to dry food all day long. When it has the freedom to choose when it wants to eat, it’s more likely to gain weight. They prefer to eat many small meals throughout the day, instead of large meals just twice a day. This tip is especially useful for pregnant cats.
- If your kitten is suffering from an allergy or inflammatory bowel disease, try changing up the menu. You can start with removing anything that you’re staying away from or has an adverse reaction to.
- Another thing you can try is, if you usually feed your furry friend dry food, try switching to canned food for a while, or vice versa. You can even try a combination of both.
- When the problem is that your kitty has lost its appetite, try warming up the food. Heating the food for a few seconds in the microwave will help bring out all the delicious aromas. This will hopefully make the food more appealing. Your vet may also prescribe medication to help with that.
- Where you keep the food bowl is also very important. It makes a huge difference where you put out the food bowl. If it’s not in a comfortable, safe space, the cat won’t use it.
Weight loss in cats with normal blood work isn’t always alarming. Many things can cause this, eating habits, age, emotional state, or even pregnancy. Most of the time, a quick change in diet will do the trick. But, sometimes, it may be a medical condition.
After running any necessary tests and making sure you’ve treated any underlying causes of the weight loss, your furry friend will bounce back to its healthy weight in no time.
I’ve been living with cats since 2008 and I can confidently say I have more feline friends than humans lol. I currently live with 5 cats in different life stages; two of them are less than one year old, one is 2-ish years old and the oldest two are 9-ish years old. I’ve developed a strong bond with cats over the years and I’m eager to share my experience through this blog. You can learn more about my cats here.