Diagnosing a Sudden Cat Weight Loss

Cat weight loss is a normal occurrence, to a certain degree. You should expect that your pet's weight may fluctuate over time. This is due to a variety of normal processes, including his digestion, activity levels, emotional and physical health and more. A sudden change in your cat's weight, however, is worthy of attention. Although it is possible that your pet may gain a substantial amount of weight over a short period of time, more often than not a drastic change in feline weight occurs when cats lose a large amount of body mass. There are a large number of potential causes for this phenomenon, and a prompt diagnosis is helpful in determining a treatment plan.

Recognize the Symptoms

If your cat appears to have lost a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, observe him for signs of concurrent symptoms. If you can present your veterinarian with a number of symptoms that coincide with your pet's change in weight, this may prove very helpful in diagnosing his condition. Be on the lookout especially for the following warning signs:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increase in appetite
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Depression
  • Change in coat appearance
  • Vomiting, diarrhea or other indigestion

Take your list of symptoms to a veterinarian, along with the duration and progression of each. If possible, note how much weight your cat has lost and the time period over which you have noticed the change.

Methods for Diagnosing Cat Weight Loss

Depending on the coincidental symptoms that your cat has displayed, as well as his prior health history and age, your veterinarian may be able to make certain educated guesses as to the cause of his weight loss before conducting any examinations. For instance, diabetes and hyperthyroidism are highly common causes of sudden feline weight loss, but they typically occur only in older cats or animals with certain predisposing conditions. If this is the case, your veterinarian may specifically test for one or more of these likely conditions before administering a general battery of examinations.

In order to make an accurate diagnosis, your vet will begin by conducting a thorough physical examination of your pet. He will continue with a blood sample and a complete blood count. This test is helpful in identifying hormone levels that may indicate conditions like hyperthyroidism and other diseases. Depending upon the results of these tests and on your pet's symptoms, the veterinarian may continue by performing x-rays, urinalysis, stool samples and other analyses as well.

Addressing the Condition Before and During Diagnosis

A sudden weight loss may, if substantial, put your cat at risk for other conditions or adverse health effects. Take your pet to the veterinarian for examination as soon as you recognize this change in weight. However, while he is diagnosing the cause of the weight loss, discuss ways in which you can help to moderate your pet's condition. Increasing or modifying his diet are two of the most common ways of addressing a sudden loss of weight. The specific treatment method, both for your pet's short-term and his long-term health, depends upon the cause and severity of his weight loss.