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Why is my cat so thin?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I've told you guys about my "big cat" before - she's the one obsessed with getting outside. :)


My question is why is she so thin? She's rather hollow on her sides but the vet says she's healthy. She eats like a horse, plays lots and has lots of energy. She has dry food sat out all day and also eats about one big can of wet food a day. She's a "large" breed cat, at 7 pounds. Vet said is normal weight. It just bugs me that she is so thin! Should I be worried anyway?

post #2 of 24
How old is she?
Has she had a thyroid test done yet?
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

Not sure of her exact age - she was a stray - vet guesses she's a year to a year and a half. Not sure about the thyroid test.


I cheated and was giving her kitten food mixed with her dry food - got heavier but still hollow. What the heck?

post #4 of 24

We took Katie in as a stray in April and she is thin. Maybe it is because they are active. :) The vet said

she was about a year to a year and a half also.



post #5 of 24
If the vet says she is ok then there is probably nothing to worry about. When you run your hand down her back, if you do not feel all the bones of her spine then she has enough covering of flesh. It is very rare for a young cat to have a thyroid problem - if there is a cause it is more likely to be worms. I have a thin black cat, Ellie, and I have asked several vets about her weight, but she always gets a clean bill of health. She eats well, is very active and has clear eyes and a very shiny coat. So I have accepted that she is just thin by nature, as some people are.
post #6 of 24

My youngest girl who turned a year old a few months ago is very thin looking. her hips looks hollowed in as you described. She's very active and eats like a horse!


She weighs 9.25 a few weeks ago when I took her in to get microchipped. The vet said she's of perfect weight and she's where she should be. I am not feeling her bones when I pet her which is a good thing. The vet also said a cat should have an 'hourglass' shape when you look down at her back.

post #7 of 24

My vet said my cat was ok and that his thin appearance in the back hip area was lack of muscle mass. My vet was wrong and my cat was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma. 


In my cat's case he had been slowly losing weight, eating like a pig however. I took him in when he began to vomit. We thought he had some kind of obstruction.


I am just writing to say that if you as the parent feel like something isn't right, your intuition is probably correct. You might want to get a full blood panel done and as the other poster said, check for thyroid or other weight-loss related problem.


A lot of vets are fine with garden variety illnesses but are completely horrible when confronted with anything that is not obvious. You might want to ask around - talk to rescue group volunteers- and see if anyone knows a vet that is a really good diagnostician. 

post #8 of 24
Frankly, a large cat, who eats like a pig, dry and wet food, and is still 7 lbs... I would be doing blood tests- full panel. A fecal too, while you are at it. 7lbs is just not fitting the bill imho.
post #9 of 24
I have learned over the years so much more about health care and diet of my cats, it blows my mind. laughing02.gif I also had vets in the past tell me that my cat was just fine.... and then I waited and trusted. By then it was too late. Now, I am NOT trying to scare you hugs.gif, I just am encouraging you to either ask your current vet to do MORE or go to another vet for a second opinion. I would at the very least do a complete blood panel - check everything - even thyroid. Let's just hope that your kitty is very, very active and just needs more calories each day. vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

I cheated and gave her kitten food - she got heavier - she's like lead - but still was thin! She's very active but I'm taking her for a full panel as suggested. 

post #11 of 24

Have you compared her to any of the drawings on 'condition scoring' web pages?  That, plus knowing if her wieght is changing is the best way to know if she is too thin or not.

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by OrientalSlave View Post

Have you compared her to any of the drawings on 'condition scoring' web pages?  That, plus knowing if her wieght is changing is the best way to know if she is too thin or not.


Yes, it says what I think - she is too thin. I'm going to give her more wet food and continue to mix kitten food with her dry food. Vet insisted she was fine but we'll see what the blood panel says. 

post #13 of 24

hi im new to the site can u help me please as i am so worried that i can feel my cats spine her name is lola and its a she i dont know how to put a message on hope u dont mind me asking please if anyone out there can give suggestions or help me please do thanks

post #14 of 24
Sometimes it's just a mystery. My female cat has been thin her whole life - eating like a garbage disposal and not gaining an ounce, but staying probably at about 8-9 pounds (but I could feel her spine and ribs, usually). Due to recent issues, she did get a couple CBCs done - one vet suspected hyperthyroidism, but her thyroid was only a little tiny bit overactive. As in not enough to warrant medication for hyper-T. She's a domestic shorthair, so as far as I know, she's not meant to be a large/thick breed. So I have to assume she just needed food that had higher nutritional quality. I started giving her Purina Kitten Chow (kibbles) a couple years ago along with a can of wet food every day (unless I ran out, in which case I would look in the fridge for deli turkey or poultry to feed her). She bulked right up and eventually hit a weight plateau of probably 13 pounds. She was still very long and slender, but kept her weight up. And if she didn't get fed often enough, she could easily drop several pounds. There are times I'd go out of town for 3 weeks and leave the cat in my mother's care, and when I returned home, my cat had easily lost 3-4 pounds. But I feed her normally for a week and she gains it all back. Easy gain, easy lose with my girl. Due to her illness, she managed to lose about 2 pounds in as many weeks, but gained a pound after 2 cans of cat food over the span of 48 hours. Meanwhile, her brother eats normally (and eats special urinary tract health kibbles) and he's at least 20 pounds. It could be plain old metabolism - some humans can eat like hogs and not gain a pound. Meanwhile, others can have a cupcake and gain 5 pounds. Sorry, I'm derailing and going on about my cats. It's good you're getting blood work done and that will tell you if anything is amiss, but also just wanted to ease your nerves and let you know that sometimes a cat is just a little on the small side. Is it possible your kitty may just be the runt of the litter or is just naturally small despite her breed? There are always size anomalies among all species and this can easily extend to cats. I hope you receive good news from the vet, in any case.
post #15 of 24

I don't know the answer but I may be joining this thread with questions or posting a new one because one of my other kitties, Lulu, has become overly thin also, while we have been busy treating Toby with his cancer. I have been keeping an eye on all my other kitties, because I actually did think it would be just my luck that another would somehow get sick while we were busy treating Toby and I would miss it. So I know Lulu has mostly been eating, but has apparently slowly dropped weight, and I saw her vomit the other day. I say "mostly" been eating bc when you are are trying to get your cat on chemo to eat, the feeding schedule goes out the window and you lose control over being able to actually see when your other cats eat unless you stand there and watch them all day and night augh. Anyhow thank you for posting bc I will be reading this, we are going to the vet in the next hour and hopefully I will have some answers soon. 

post #16 of 24

Hi! I just wondered if anyone could help me with my cat. She was losing weight and was then diagnosed with hyper-thyroid. She started eating the y/d thyroid diet from the vet. This put her thyroid level back to normal. It has been normal for over a year, but she has still lost weight and is skin and bones. You can feel all her bones on her back. The vet says nothing is wrong with her. I don't have a lot of money to spend but I wonder what to do! I wonder if a non-grain or non-corn diet would be a good try. This y/d food does have corn in it. I wouldn't take her totally off of it though.

post #17 of 24

The issue with the YD diet is that it has low protein. Cats require high protein (animal source) to maintain their muscle mass. I will direct you to Dr. Mark Peterson's website. He's a vet endocronologist who specializes in hyperthyroidism. His point is that although the low iodine food may help control the thyroid, the low protein in the food can be dangerous for the cat long term because of muscle wasting. Here's a couple links:

Changing your cat's food to a better quality high protein diet will not treat the thyroid and the instructions on the YD food says the cat can't be fed anything else. For the health of your pet, I would consider the I131 treatment (expensive, but cures the problem) or treating your cat with twice a day Methimazole and then feeding a better food with high meat protein. Your vet can review these options with you. If you want to read ahead before speaking to your vet, Dr. Peterson's site fully explains the treatments available.

I have one cat that was treated with the I131 and one cat currently being treated with Methimazole. Both have perfect T4 numbers and beautiful muscle mass. They eat a high meat protein and no carb food.

Edited to say that I buy the methimazole compounded into liver chew treats. My cat loves them. It costs $30 for a two month supply.

Please see your vet to discuss the other options of treating the thyroid issue.
post #18 of 24

Thanks you so much for the info. I will talk to the vet about all these options.

Thanks again.

post #19 of 24
To Malla - what were the results of the tests?
post #20 of 24

I worry about one of my cats too. He is 6 years old.  He always been a picky eater, and ravageous eater- turned to be he had worms. His stomach was always very sensitive: throwing up was a normal thing for him. Almost daily. Once he was in such trouble that he had stopped assimilating any food, He was starving and dying. Lackily, despite of the vet could not find anything, gave him a prescription diet, and it did not work... I found in Trader Joe cats candies... He recovered with this product and I contacted company, and started him on their dry food. He recovered, eating this dry food for e a while. I kept cooking chicken for both, and they were happy. I did not give them any crappy food from the store. This little nenver liked  fish. Now, I moved and I have 3 cats now. He is eating all right. but for the first time his bowl movement become a problem. His stool is a liquid. He does not through up as often, but I have to feed him and close in the restroom, as he can not hold his poop... Often he goes on the bed... So it has become a real problem. His stool is soft, I look up under his tale like a Mom and wipe him... so he does not smear everywhere. My life become a watchful eye for my Baloo. His nose is wet mostly, his eye contact is good, and I know that when he did not assimilate food- he does not behave as social and responsive. When he was small I called him autistic, because of that. I knew that it was a lack of nutrients in his body and brain. Now he begun eating variety of meats- fish, salmon, tuna (clean tuna nothing added) I keep adding pro-prebiotics to every meal. I know it saved him already. That is how he reduced his throwing up events. But he is very skinny and the stool is a problem. I suspect the same crackers that saved his life before.  I am staying with chicken and tuna . Chicken home made. I wish for some advice on a subject of worms, herbs, I gave him garlic before- I should try again- it worked ;-) I also got some alovera juice- will try to give him that tooo

post #21 of 24

many very thin cats (not all) have thyroid issue called hyperthyroidism where no matter how much they eat they cannot gain wait. Please see your vet asap if you suspect this. An "easy" fix and usually will give them a shot or pills you give them every day.

post #22 of 24

This is to Irina Shulkin. If you haven't already please, please, please take your cat to the vet. It is never a good idea to just try home remedies to treat your cat. You need to take him or her to the vet and find out what is going on so that you can get him or her the right kind of treatment for his or her illness.

post #23 of 24
Originally Posted by choffman12 View Post

This is to Irina Shulkin. If you haven't already please, please, please take your cat to the vet. It is never a good idea to just try home remedies to treat your cat. You need to take him or her to the vet and find out what is going on so that you can get him or her the right kind of treatment for his or her illness.

This is quite an old thread @choffman12




Irina's cat was taken to the vet, as stated in her post. 

post #24 of 24

Even one clove of garlic can be toxic for a cat - please don't give your kitty any garlic. Google it!

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