Is My Cat Too Skinny? How To Tell If Your Cat Is Underweight
If you were to tell me three years ago that I would be researching why cats are slimmer than others, I would have laughed in your face.
With our oldest cat, putting on weight has never been a problem. (Taking it off is a completely different issue). It wasn’t until we started adopting more animals that I began to ask myself questions like ‘Is my kitten too slim?’ ‘Is my cat healthy or underweight?’ and so many more.
Feeding your cat the correct amount of food and making sure they stay at an appropriate weight are crucial parts of keeping them healthy.
It is more common to hear vets talking about feline obesity as an issue, but a cat who’s underweight can also be a cause for concern.
If you suspect your cat may be losing weight too fast or that they’re underweight, then you must consult your veterinarian. Especially if this is something out of the ordinary for them.
Remember, if your vet confirms that you’re caring for an underweight cat, it’s important to take their treatment advice seriously.
So how do you find out if your cat is truly underweight?
Tests To Tell If Your Cat Is Underweight
Like many humans, I think the first thing that comes to mind is to put them on the scale and see if they are lower than what their breed’s range is.
Because, like humans again, all cats are different, this is not always the best method. If you were to look at my kitten Zoe, you would think she is a normal weight. Put her on the scale and she is ‘below average’. She eats plenty and passes the other tests so they just consider her a smaller frame.
Rather than relying on the scale, try to rub your hand along your cat’s sides and notice how pronounced the ribs are. If it seems like you can feel a lot of the ribs and they’re very pronounced, your cat could be underweight.
(One call out, if you feel some ribs or you have to push in to feel their ribs this is not a sign of an underweight cat.)
You can also do a similar test which is to run your hand along your cat’s spine and feel how pronounced the vertebrae are.
If you can visibly see a short-haired cat’s ribs and backbone, that’s also a possible sign of an underweight kitty.
And while these tests help you get a range of where you cat is at, it’s important to remember that certain breeds of cat are naturally skinnier or larger than others. Even cats of the same breed and litter can have different frames to one another. Which can cause them to be larger or smaller than each other.
These at-home tests are just to give you an idea of what to look for. These are a first step before you follow up with your vet so they can perform an exam and run tests.
It’s crucial to remember that only a true professional can find out for sure what’s medically wrong with your cat.
Steps To Take If Your Cat Is Underweight
If you have talked with your vet about your concerns for your cats health and they have confirmed the fear, then you have some important next steps to take.
First, monitor your cat’s feeding times and see if they’re finishing all of their food. A cat who loses their appetite or doesn’t eat their food could suffer from a number of issues that require veterinary treatment.
You also want to keep checking on their food during the day if you keep the food out.. Some cats are grazers and will pick at food all day if they can. The more information you can give the vet, the best. The more they will be able to figure out why your kitten is so slim.
Next, if your fur-baby scarfs their food down as normal, check that you’re feeding them the correct amount of food. Most cat food packaging or websites will have a chart with recommended serving amounts based on your cat’s weight. But if you’re concerned that they are very slim, don’t hesitate to give them more.
You also want to make sure they don’t eat everything super fast, and then end up getting sick afterwards. (I have a cat that does that…and then cries for more food. It was a process).
Depending on where you read and who your vet is, they may not recommend giving them additional food. Even if they are scarfing down their food. I personally recommend it because if they are underweight, they last thing they need is to have their food restricted.
Now as they start to put on more weight, that is when you can maybe give them a little less than they were eating before to prevent obesity in the future. But right now, health is the name of the game.
Finally, at the end of the day it is your cat. And no one will truly know your cat quite like you do. So if you don’t want to give them more food, or if you do, it is truly a parental call.
It is always helpful to connect with a vet and experts on what they recommend. But just like with a child you have the final say.
If you think your cat’s diet is okay but they’re still underweight, it’s time to call or visit your vet. Follow any steps or feeding advice your vet gives you as precisely as possible.
Have you ever found out that your cat was underweight? What steps did you take to get them back to a healthy weight? Tell us your tips in the comments section below!