Sudden weight loss in cats can be scary. After all, even if our cats act fine, sudden weight loss is almost always a sign of something wrong. Cats are very good at hiding their discomfort, in part stemming from an evolutionary adaptation not to show signs of illness. Even today, our domestic cats may exhibit this behavior.
If your feline is suddenly losing weight, it is vital to figure out why and determine how to intervene. Here is a list of reasons your cat may suddenly lose weight, as well as potential fixes. Many of them require veterinary attention.
The 8 Reasons for Sudden Weight Loss in Cats
1. Anxiety and Stress
Serious stress and depression can cause weight loss. After all, cats under stress usually experience a loss of appetite, which can negatively affect their eating. Therefore, cats often lose weight when stressed for an extended period.
Many things can stress out your cat. For instance, simple changes, such as changes in routine, can stress your cat. It does not have to be a life-changing event for your cat to be stressed out.
Diabetes can make a cat less able to utilize the energy they derive from their food. Therefore, while the cat is eating, they are not using the energy, which will lead to weight loss. Diabetes can lead to severe and rapid weight loss, though it can also occur slowly over a long period.
Cancer can lead to weight loss due to the metabolic effects of the disease. Often, cats with cancer appear to act not like themselves, eat less, and lose a lot of muscle mass.
4. Feline Infectious Peritonitis
This virus is usually abbreviated as FIP and is common in cats kept in close quarters. It is extremely contagious. Usually, FIP is categorized as a wasting disease, which means that the cat slowly loses weight until they are malnourished. Some forms of FIP are deadly in many cases, and treatment is often difficult.
Hyperthyroidism is characterized by an overactive thyroid gland, which secretes excess thyroid hormones and controls how the body utilizes energy. Therefore, with too much of the hormone, a cat will usually lose a significant amount of weight.
Sometimes, hyperthyroidism is caused by a tumor on the thyroid. However, the tumor is not always cancerous. Cats with hyperthyroidism will also have several other signs, and it can lead to death in extreme cases.
6. Intestinal Parasites
Internal parasites can lodge in your cat’s bowels and partially break down your cat’s food. Many cats have parasites that are never discovered if the feline host is asymptomatic. However, in many cases, a cat with several parasites may be unable to eat.
The signs are not always apparent with parasites but may typically include diarrhea, bloody stools, and inappetence. However, most can be detected by a simple stool sample, which is easy to get from your cat’s litter box.
7. Organ Failure
Cats with organ failure often lose weight. Cats cannot metabolize their food when their organs begin shutting down. In the end, this leads to weight loss. However, it is usually a later-stage sign. Therefore, if your cat is losing weight because of organ failure, they probably have other signs.
8. Tooth Problems
If a cat has tooth problems, they may not eat as readily as they previously did. Therefore, you’ll need to get your teeth checked by a vet. Often, there aren’t many signs of toothache, as cats are very good at hiding their pain. Visual signs aren’t always obvious until much later—past the point where your cat should be seen and treated.
There are several possible reasons that your feline may be losing weight. Therefore, we highly recommend visiting your vet for testing. Many of the conditions are quite serious and complicated. Therefore, we do not recommend trying to self-diagnose at home. Prompt treatment by a vet can mean the difference between catching a disease early and catching it too late.
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