do cats get skinny when old

After 12 years of age, there is marked decline in body weight among cats, which supplants obesity as a common life- threatening condition.

Senior Cat Weight Loss: Is It Common?

Senior cat weight loss is very common. The ability of elderly cats to absorb fat and protein is diminished. They shed roughly one-third of their lean body mass, or the weight your cat would have if they were fat.

Cats need extra nourishment after the age of eleven simply to maintain their resting body weight. This may lead to weight loss, especially if your cat’s health issue prevents them from eating properly.

While some cats in their senior years may lose weight, this is not always the case. Senior cats are more likely to have many health issues that make them require even more nutrients. Older cats frequently conceal their illnesses until they become extremely ill, at which point they rapidly lose too much weight.

As soon as you see your cat losing weight, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian, especially if there are behavioral changes, a decrease in appetite, or a reduction in activity. Early detection of health issues will greatly simplify treatment and ensure your cat’s comfort.

Use our convenient Weight Tracker tool to keep an eye on your cat’s weight by creating a free GreatPetCare account. Additionally, you can effortlessly manage your pet’s medical records while on the go, set personalized reminders, and log weight changes when you download the GreatPetCare app!

What Does Senior Cat Weight Loss Look Like?

do cats get skinny when old

When you see your senior cat every day, it can be challenging to notice the weight loss because many senior cats lose weight gradually. On the other hand, rapid and significant weight loss may occur in an unwell senior cat. Your cat’s weight loss was probably a gradual process if you can’t remember when it started and the appearance changes are minor.

Lean body mass, or muscle mass, and total body mass are the two categories of weight loss. The body of a cat that is losing weight first eliminates fat in an attempt to keep lean body mass from being lost. But in certain diseases or nutritional problems, muscle is lost instead. Together with this, older cats naturally lose muscle.

Your cat’s midsection appears smaller and there is less fat around the waist and beneath the stomach, making the loss of total body mass easier to detect.

Although it is more difficult to detect, muscle loss is most easily detected by running your hand down your cat’s spine. The spine is a row of bones with protruding bony segments. Generally speaking, a spine with adequate muscle feels relatively flat. But when muscle loss happens, your cat’s backbones become more protruding and much easier to feel as firm bumps. The legs, particularly the back legs, will appear thinner due to the effect on other muscles.

Senior cats who lose weight should have it looked into, especially if it coincides with other issues like vomiting or decreased appetite. Once more, cats tend to hide their illnesses until they become very sick, so you should discuss any slight weight loss with your veterinarian.

Why Is My Older Cat Losing Weight? 8 Common Causes

do cats get skinny when old

It is critical for veterinarians to determine the cause of your cat’s weight loss in order to treat it. These are common reasons that older cats lose weight:

Dental disease. Gum inflammation or dental problems can make eating and chewing extremely uncomfortable. Infection can occur which makes cats feel ill.

Inflammatory bowel disease. An inflammation of the cat’s intestines and/or stomach is known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Food allergies or simply generalized inflammation for unknown reasons could be the cause. Protein loss can result from persistent diarrhea or even just intestinal inflammation, which lowers muscle mass and overall weight loss.

Chronic kidney disease. Kidney issues in cats are very common. Nausea is a common side effect of kidney disease that increases protein loss and reduces appetite. This causes muscle loss in cats.

Hyperthyroidism. Increased production of thyroid hormone results in significantly higher dietary requirements. Cats with hyperthyroidism frequently have gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, like vomiting, which makes it harder for them to consume enough food.

Diabetes mellitus. When cats have diabetes, their insulin production is decreased. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Cats with diabetes lose weight due to a variety of hormonal changes, including the breakdown of muscle. Cats with diabetes have very specific dietary requirements, and they won’t put on weight again until their blood sugar is under control.

Cancer. Any type of cancer in the body could be the cause of weight loss in cats, and it can be difficult to identify until it is very advanced.

Degenerative joint disease (arthritis). Although arthritis does not directly result in weight loss in cats, it frequently makes them less active, which leads to decreased muscle because they are not using their muscles as much. Walking or getting food can be extremely painful for cats with arthritis, and their intake of nutrients may also be reduced.

Normal aging. Losing a little bit of overall body weight and muscle is a normal part of growing older. Just remember that this would happen very gradually and in very tiny doses. Before assuming that a senior cat’s weight loss is typical, pet parents should always consult their veterinarian.


Why is my older cat getting skinny?

Weight loss and specifically muscle loss is a concern in cats 11 years and older. It can be described as cachexia or sarcopenia. Cachexia is loss of muscle with the disease, e.g. congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, cancer and many other chronic conditions.

Do cats get bony as they age?

Changes in Weight and Appetite Alternatively, you may notice your elderly feline looking more boney and gaunt, which can happen if your cat cannot absorb the nutrients in their food as well as they did in their youth. If their nutrition requirements are not met, they may lose lean muscle mass.