Causes of Weight Loss in Older Cats

Weight loss commonly afflicts middle aged and older cats. It may be a sign of a developing heath problem, or the progression of a pre-existing condition if your cat begins to lose weight. It is important to monitor your senior cat's weight, as even the slightest change in weight can be significant.

Having a general understanding of your cat's relative age is of great importance so that you maybe able to provide the proper care and nutrition for each stage of life.

A cat between the ages of 7 and 10 years is considered middle aged. Cats 11 to 14 years of age are considered old or older cats, while cats 15 years of age and older are referred to as elderly or geriatric cats. These terms can be applied loosely, and thus may vary slightly in definition.

Dental Disease Can Make Eating Painful

Dental disease is extremely common to older cats, and may make eating difficult or even painful, causing your cat to loose weight.

Signs of feline dental disease are:

  • Teeth chattering
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Dropping food

You may try and encourage your cat to eat by giving him wide, shallow and easily accessible food and water dishes.

Dulling Senses

Cats tend to become more finicky about what they eat as they age, and it may become much harder to please their pallet. As a cat ages his sense of both taste and smell may diminish making it less acute, therefore making him less interested in food.

A change in diet, or simply changing to a new flavor of your cat's current food may help to peek his interest.

Weight Loss from Kidney Disease

The feline kidneys will go through a number of age related changes; some of these changes may compromise the function of the kidneys, contributing to the onset of a variety of different conditions affecting the kidneys. CRF (Chronic Renal Failure) or, simply put, kidney failure, is the most severe of the possible conditions afflicting the feline kidneys. There is no cure for CRF, though if caught early, the progression of the disease may be slowed, and quality of life improved. A regiment of specially prescribed food, medication and fluids may be necessary to help care for your sick cat.

Other health problems such as hyperthyroidism (excessive production of the thyroid hormones), and hypertension (high blood pressure) are often results of kidney failure.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

IBD includes a group of different chronic gastrointestinal disorders. The mechanical characteristics of IBD have been identified (lining of the intestines becomes infiltrated by inflammatory cells) while the exact cause of the disease itself is not yet known.

IBD can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which may then cause the cat to become easily dehydrated. If the condition persists for long enough, the cat may loose a significant amount of weight due to the body's inability to properly process both food and water through it's system.

Older Cats More Susceptible to Cancer

As cats age their chances of cancer increase. Weight loss is often a sign of cancer, however, cancer symptoms vary depending on the organ afflicted by the disease. Intestinal cancer in felines may cause a form of IBD to develop.

If you notice a change in your cat's behavior, eating habits, or if he is having problems going to the bathroom, or other daily behaviors, make sure that you get him to the vet. These signs could actually be symptoms that your cat is sick, developing a chronic health condition, or signaling the progression of a preexisting health condition.

It is always vital that your cat be seen by a professional for any apparent illness or malady.