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Weight loss and chronic diseases in cats

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Feline companions, beloved for their playful nature and comforting presence, play a significant role in bringing joy to our lives. As responsible cat owners, it is important to remain observant of any changes in their health, particularly weight loss. Weight loss in cats can be an indication of underlying chronic diseases that require prompt intervention and treatment.

Understanding Weight Loss and Chronic Disease

When a cat experiences significant weight loss despite consuming food, it is indicative of a potential chronic disease. Veterinary experts refer to this condition as cachexia, characterized by the wasting and weakness of the body due to chronic illness, says Hannah Hollinger in her article titled “Weight Loss and Chronic Disease in Cats” on the ‘Wag!’ website. While various factors such as anorexia, stress, and dietary changes can contribute to weight loss in cats, she says any cat losing more than 10 per cent of its total body weight warrants thorough examination by a veterinarian.

A Persian cat is being treated in a vet clinic after a sudden weight loss. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

Symptoms of Weight Loss and Chronic Disease

Weight loss in cats is often visually apparent, with prominent hip bones, spine, and shoulder blades becoming more noticeable, says Hollinger. Additionally, she says changes in the skin, fur texture, and the manifestation of symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle wasting may accompany weight loss, depending on the underlying chronic disease.

Common Causes of Weight Loss in Cats

Hollinger tells us several chronic diseases can contribute to weight loss in cats, highlighting the importance of identifying the underlying condition.

Inflammatory bowel disease, gallbladder disease, liver disease, pancreatic disease, hyperthyroidism, Addison’s disease, and diabetes are among the conditions associated with weight loss in felines.

Diagnosing Weight Loss and Chronic Disease

Diagnosing the cause of weight loss in cats requires a comprehensive approach, including a physical examination and diagnostic tests. Veterinary professionals may conduct a complete blood cell count, biochemistry profile, urinalysis, fecal sample test, and abdominal ultrasound to assess the cat’s health status and identify underlying conditions, says Hollinger.

A thin stray cat drinks water from a street gutter. If rescued, this cat needs to be tested immediately to address the cause of weight loss. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

Treatment Strategies

On the Sheba website, in their article titled, “Why is my cat losing weight?”, veterinarians may recommend symptomatic treatment to stimulate appetite and provide supportive care, including intravenous fluids and medications for severe cases. In some instances, the placement of feeding tubes may be necessary to ensure adequate nutrient intake.

Recovery and Management

With proper treatment and diligent monitoring, cats with weight loss and chronic disease can achieve complete recovery. Regular weigh-ins and follow-up appointments are essential to track progress and adjust treatment plans as needed, says Hollinger. She encourages furparents to adhere to their veterinarian’s recommendations and seek prompt medical attention if there are concerns about their cat’s condition.

Preventing Weight Loss and Promoting Health

While addressing weight loss in cats is crucial, preventive measures play a vital role in promoting feline health and well-being. Maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and minimizing stressors can help prevent weight loss and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, early detection through routine veterinary check-ups and proactive management of underlying conditions can significantly impact a cat’s quality of life.

In conclusion, weight loss in cats can be a sign of underlying chronic diseases that require prompt attention and appropriate treatment. By understanding the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options associated with weight loss in cats, pet owners can take proactive steps to safeguard their feline companions’ health and well-being. Through collaboration with veterinary professionals and a commitment to preventive care, we can ensure that our beloved cats lead happy, healthy lives for years to come.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist, writer, and tutor. She has been a solo parent for 17 years now because she is the wife of Jonas Burgos, a Filipino desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.


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