Old Thin Cats Many people think that as cats get older that it is normal for them to become thinner. This however, is not strictly true. A healthy older cat should be able to maintain its optimum weight and if it starts to lose weight then it can be a sign of a disease process. It is true that older cats are more likely to develop diseases that do cause weight loss but it is not normal for this to happen. There are several very common diseases of older cats that cause weight loss; the two most common are kidney problems and hyperthyroidism. Kidney problems tend to cause a poor appetite, increased thirst and possibly sickness and bad breath, this is a serious condition, which has to be carefully managed. Hyperthyroidism is caused by an overactive thyroid gland, this tends to cause increased appetite (often owners will describe ravenously hungry cats) increased thirst, weight loss and possibly sickness and diarrhoea. Hyperthyroidism is thankfully very successfully treated and so cats should return to normal reasonably quickly however, left untreated it can cause heart failure. Another common cause of weight loss is diabetes, which causes increased thirst and hunger yet also causes dramatic weight loss. Again diabetes is very treatable so the sooner we see these patients the sooner we can make them well again. Unfortunately there are some conditions that are harder to treat. Cats can suffer from diseases like cancer just like we can. Treatments for cancers are improving all the time so it does not mean there is no hope for these patients. Every case is different, so if you are worried about your cat losing weight then bring it in for a check up, the sooner we see these patients the sooner we can help. One point to think about is that some older cats lose weight because they are not eating, and people often think this is because they have bad teeth. Dental disease is often quite significant in older cats however it is rare for cats to have such bad dental disease that they stop eating. Most cats will simply eat despite any discomfort. This means that we should be careful not to assume that a bad tooth is the main problem or the only problem. Treating dental disease is an important part of veterinary care in older patients but can often be a red herring, distracting us from the real cause of the problem. Cats and dogs need special care as they get older just like humans so regular check ups and weight checks can be really important to spot the early signs of disease. If you think your cat is losing weight or not well then contact your vet.
Published on Dec 17, 2012