Why is My Cat So Skinny? I Can Feel Her Bones

There is no specific size to compare all cats to. Each breed is different and there are even variations within each breed. Some cats are very slim and tall, whereas others can be shorter, gain weight quicker or have a stockier bone structure. It is important to know whether your cat is simply slim and carrying little weight or if they are so skinny.

My cat is so skinny I can feel her bones

There are dozens of illnesses that make your cat skinny. Some are easily treated, while others are more serious and require long-term management.

Here are common reasons your cat is so skinny and you can feel her bones.

1. Dental

The most common medical causes of weight loss are dental problems. Cats with oral infections or gum disease will experience pain when they eat. This will make them reluctant to eat and so they will begin to lose weight.

2. Diet

Not all cat foods are made equal! Some brands use low-quality ingredients to keep costs down, but this means the food does not contain the right quantity of nutrients that cats need. Nutritional deficiency has a big impact on how well your cat maintains weight.

3. Food allergies

Just like us, cats can be intolerant or allergic to certain foods. A simple allergy test performed by a veterinarian will confirm if a cat has any allergies. Choosing a new cat food that does not contain allergens will help your cat to regain and maintain their weight.

4. Diabetes

Diabetes is a surprisingly common illness for cats. Undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes can quickly lead to weight loss. Carefully managing their insulin injections and diet can help a cat to gain weight and to maintain it at a healthy level.

4. Parasites

Parasites are a cat owner’s worst nightmare. An infestation of fleas, ticks or internal parasites can quickly cause weight loss. Fleas and ticks drain blood which can lead to anemia. one of the first things to be impacted here is appetite since the cat feels too weak to move much.

Internal parasites usually pass by or remain in the digestive tract and steal vital nutrients. Not only does this cause the cat to lose weight, but it also puts a strain on their organs and causes more serious medical illnesses.

5. Hyperthyroidism

This condition is caused by an over-active thyroid, causing the body to release too much of certain hormones. This can cause weight loss and reduced appetite among other symptoms. By administering your cat’s regular thyroid medication you can stop the weight loss. Switching them on to a high-calorie diet will help them regain the weight they lost.

6. Old age

Unfortunately, all animals age and with it comes a loss of appetite and the inability to maintain weight. One of the first signs that your cat is suffering from old age is weight loss.

You can change them on to a high-calorie diet to ensure they are getting additional nutrients, but this is simple management. Ensuring they continue to receive the nutrients they need will help them to remain at a healthy weight, but eventually, you will start to notice that your cat has a slimmer frame or appears weaker.

This is the sad reality of cat ownership. All you can do is support them in their old age as best you can and make sure they are comfortable and loved.

Is it bad if my cat is skinny and I can feel her bones?

If your cat’s weight has changed then it is likely due to nutritional deficiencies or a medical condition. If your cat is simply not getting enough food, they will lose weight gradually and at a steady rate.

A cat who is suffering from a medical condition will lose weight very suddenly. They may also show no interest in food. If you notice your cat has lost weight, the first thing to do is have her seen by a veterinarian.

Blood and urine tests are common practice for cats suffering from weight loss. This will test for infections, blood disorders, and general health. Depending on those tests, your veterinarian may suggest other tests such as x-rays or scans to check bone and organ conditions.

A healthy cat who has lost weight may just need larger portions or changing to a cat food that has a higher carbohydrate and fat content. Outdoor cats tend to have a bigger appetite than indoor cats because they are burning more energy while they explore their neighborhood.

If your veterinarian does diagnose a medical problem, treating this is the first step to preventing further weight loss. Once the illness is resolved, they may recommend a short-term high-calorie diet to help your cat gain weight.


Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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