Older Cats and Weight Loss

A Note from Dr. Chris: 

I frequently have owners of geriatric cats come into the clinic whose main concern is that their aging cat is losing weight.  Typically, the report includes a comment about increased water consumption and appetite, as well as normal to increased activity.  Clients are perplexed as to how their cat continues to show signs of persistent and gradual weight loss.  Just because a cat is getting older doesn’t mean they should gradually start losing weight.  I see plenty of older cats that are physically normal and maintain their body weight.  So what causes this type of weight loss?

There are a number of diseases that can cause weight loss in older cats, but I am going to focus on the three diseases we see most commonly here in our veterinary practice.  This list includes hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, and chronic renal disease.  All of these diseases are typically treatable, or at the very least, manageable.  It is certainly worth having your veterinarian do a few diagnostic tests to determine why your cat is losing weight.  

Feline hyperthyroidism is a very treatable disease with options for treatment ranging from radioactive iodine, surgery, or oral medications to dietary management and control.   Diabetes mellitus in cats is typically manageable with the addition of insulin injections to your cat’s daily routine.  Even chronic renal disease can frequently be managed with fluid therapy, diet change, and electrolyte supplementation.

Veterinarians love to do diagnostic tests.   So,  if you think your older cat is losing weight just because he or she is old, think again.  Take your cat in to see your local veterinarian and find out why they feel great but are losing weight.  There is always a reason for weight loss, and more than likely it is something that you can manage and treat at home.

Our information is not intended to replace the advice of your veterinarian.  Do not use this information for diagnostic purposes. Always take your pet to your veterinarian to obtain a diagnosis and course of treatment.