Symptoms of Malnutrition in Cats

There are several easily identifiable symptoms of malnutrition in cats that pet owners need to be aware of. Although malnutrition is generally observed in stray cats, cats that are cherished members of a family can also suffer from malnutrition.

Causes of Malnutrition in Cats

The chief cause for malnutrition in a pet cat is that he isn’t eating enough food or that the wrong type of food is being fed to him. Malnutrition is prevalent in cats that are given food prepared at home or fed a predominantly vegan/vegetarian diet. These diets are lacking in calcium, crucial vitamins such as Vitamin E, and minerals such as copper, zinc and potassium. Also, homemade food is generally prepared in vegetable oil which is unpalatable to cats, resulting in a deficient food intake.

Cats love fish and liver. However, too much liver can lead to vitamin toxicity and too much fish can lead to a thiamine deficiency. Proteins from meats are preferable to proteins from plants as cats are carnivores by nature. Hence, it’s essential that meat is a major part of your pet’s food. It’s also advisable to discuss the pet’s diet with the vet.

Symptoms of Malnutrition in Cats:

  • Weight loss
  • Muscular weakness
  • Poor coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Neurotic behavior
  • Lack of grooming
  • Dry and scaly skin
  • Caved in nails
  • Runny or hard feces
  • Swelling of gums
  • Failing eye sight
  • Impaired immune response
  • Organ failure
  • Death

More Symptoms of Malnutrition in Cats

Over a period of time, the skin will become scaly and dry as a result of malnutrition and the nails will become caved in. Your pet will begin to lose fur in patches and if the fur grows back, the fur will be a darker color. Loss of fur, dry and scaly skin and concave nails are the first symptoms of malnutrition.

Prolonged Malnutrition

Over time, if the malnutrition is neglected, your pet will become skeletal in appearance. The shoulder blades and spinal vertebrae will be clearly visible through the skin, and the bones will protrude. The stomach will shrink and become flat. Organ failure can result from a prolonged period of malnutrition. The liver is also badly affected by malnutrition.

Metabolic impairment can lead to an extensive build up of fat in the liver. This can result in hypoglycemia accompanied by a decrease in insulin production and release by the liver. As a result, the liver can no longer carry out its routine functions. This condition is called Hepatic Lipidosis and results in fatality in 90 percent of cats affected by the condition.

It’s very important to give your pet a healthy and balanced diet, and it’s better to feed him commercial food in preference to homemade food as commercial food is regulated and is required to contain requisite amounts of essential vitamins and minerals Also, as a pet owner, it’s important to keep an eye out for symptoms of malnutrition and seek vet help if necessary.