Sudden Weight Loss in Cats | Why is My Cat So Skinny?

Cats are as individual as humans and this includes their body shape. Some cats are skinny, while others are curvy. It is important to understand the difference between slender and underweight to ensure your skinny cat is fit and healthy.

Is it bad if I can feel my cat’s bones?

This is not a simple question to answer and depends on several factors. Firstly, is your cat normally plump or carrying a little extra weight? Sudden loss of weight should be investigated by a veterinarian, especially if the cat seems otherwise healthy and is eating normally.

Is your cat a slender breed? Some cats never lose that slim appearance and they do not have a thick fat layer beneath their skin. If you can only just feel your cat’s spine and they do not have any underlying health conditions, then it is safe to assume that there is nothing to worry about.

My cat is so skinny I can feel her bones

Weight loss or the inability to gain weight is a symptom of many different medical conditions but these are the 5 most common causes your cat is so skinny.

1. Diet

As mentioned above, the ingredients in cat food have a big impact on your cat’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. Low-quality ingredients, a lack of probiotics and small portions all result in your cat not having access to the nutrients they need.

2. Dental

Poor oral hygiene will cause eating problems and therefore weight loss. Gum disease, tooth loss and oral infections all cause pain and inflammation, which will affect your cat’s appetite and ability to chew properly. Cats tend not to eat when they are in pain. The longer an oral condition goes untreated, the more severe the weight loss will be.

3. Illness

There are many illnesses that affect weight control, but diabetes and hyperthyroidism are the most common for cats. These conditions are caused by poorly controlled hormones which can cause weight loss, even if the cat eats well. Managing these conditions with medication will prevent weight loss.

4. Parasites

External parasites like ticks and fleas feed off the cat’s blood, which leads to anemia. This leaves the cat feeling weak and uninterested or unable to eat. Internal parasites such as tapeworms take the valuable nutrients that cats need. Along with weight loss, an uncontrolled parasite colony will lead to organ failure.

5. Age

As cats age, their nutritional requirements change. This is why cat food companies have recipes for different life stages. Once a cat reaches the age of 10 or 11, you should consider moving them onto senior food, especially if you have noticed a reduction in their activity levels or they have lost weight.

Apart from changing their diet, you can also try incorporating a high-calorie gel with their food to assist in the initial weight gain. Alternatively, try giving at least one portion per day in a food toy. This is great for skinny cats who eat quickly and experiencing frequent vomiting episodes. By slowing down their eating, they are allowing their stomach to expand normally and preventing the urge to vomit.

See: The best cat food for older cats that vomit

High-calorie cat food

If you are feeding appropriate portions, but your cat is not putting on any extra weight, you may need to change her onto a higher calorie food. This is more common for outdoor cats as they burn off a lot of energy exploring their neighborhood.

When looking for high-calorie cat food you should check the label for the kcal per serving amount. Your vet can tell you the correct requirement for your cat’s weight. The food you choose should use meat as a protein source and not contain animal by-products as they are lacking in certain nutrients. Chicken is a great protein source and a natural, healthy option.

A good weight management food will also have at least 5% fiber to aid the natural digestive process and be supplemented with taurine, omega 3 and 6, vitamins and minerals.


Why is my cat skinny at the back end?

A cat with a narrow or thin rear end would suggest a lack of food or a digestive condition. The back end of the cat is where the intestines, kidney and liver are located. If you notice that your cat is thin in this area, you should have her checked by a veterinarian to rule out an illness.

It may be that your cat is healthy but simply not getting enough food. Cats can easily overeat and cause themselves to vomit, so stick to 3 or 4 small meals spaced throughout the day. You may want to invest in an automated cat feeder for the times when you are not home.

What cat breeds have skinny bodies?

Just like many breeds of dog are different in size and shape, so too are cats. There are a handful of cat breeds that are naturally small-boned and tall, making them appear underweight.

1. Devon Rex

This striking cat was bred in Devon, England in the 1950s. Their short, curly coat makes them ideal for allergy sufferers, but it is their appearance that really gets attention. They have a small head with large bat-like ears, a slender body and long legs.

2. Cornish Rex

Although the Cornish and Devon rex breeds appear very similar, there are certain features that are different. The Cornish Rex has a tighter curl to its coat and does not have any guard hairs, making the coat feeler softer. Like the Devon Rex, Cornish cats also have slender, muscular bodies and long legs but their heads are not quite so tapered.

3. Peterbald

This unusual cat breed originates from St Petersburg, Russia. They have a large body, which is slender but with well-defined muscle tone. In comparison, their head is quite small with huge slightly rounded ears. Their body condition is slim but muscular, making them appear skinny.

4. Russian Blue

These cats do not have as much of a foreign look to them, however, they do share the lean body shape of the other breeds mentioned above. Russian Blues are immediately recognizable by their steel-grey coat, long legs, slim body and slightly wedge-shaped face. Their thick coat doesn’t make them appear as skinny as a Rex or a Peterbald, but they still have a small bone structure and long limbs.

5. Oriental Shorthair

This breed has an Egyptian, sphinx-like quality, however, they originate from Asia.  They are quite tall cats, with long legs, slim bodies and huge ears. Their short coat makes them appear skinnier than they actually are.


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