Why Is My Cat So Skinny?

If you're like me, you may have wondered, "Why is my cat so skinny?" He eats regularly and gets more than enough, but he's still super skinny. So, what's the deal? Read on to find out!

Just like people, cats may lose weight as they age. Some of this is normal, but excessive weight loss may indicate your cat needs medical attention.

In this article, we will explore the most common causes of weight loss in cats and offer some remedies to try. If you’re uncertain about any remedy, or if you are worried your cat’s health is in danger, have her examined.

Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose what’s going on with your cat’s health, and give you clear instructions on what to do to restore your cat to a healthy weight.

Fresh Food and Water

When it comes to cats, proper food storage is of utmost importance. With finicky tastes, your cat may refuse to eat food that smells stale or old. To remedy this, store dry cat food in an airtight container.

If you’re feeding your cat wet food, serve only as much as he will eat in a few hours. Seal and store the remaining wet food in the refrigerator until the next feeding. This will keep it fresh and safe to eat for your cat.

Clean Bowls

Providing clean bowls for your cat’s food and water is also important. Some cats will refuse to eat or drink out of a dirty bowl. While a dry food dish may only need to be cleaned once a week, wet food bowls need to be cleaned daily, to remove food residue and keep the bowl smelling fresh.

Water should be changed daily, cleaning the bowl each time. This prevents the buildup of bacteria and other microorganisms that create the slimy coating you can see in a dirty water bowl.

Last but not least, if your cat’s litter box is too close to its food and water, it may refuse to eat. It’s a good idea to keep the litter box in a place away from where your cat eats and drinks.

How Aging Affects Cats

As cats get older, they experience changes in their ability to taste and smell, just like humans do. They may tire of the food they are eating, literally losing their appetite for it. Sometimes, switching to a different flavor or brand of cat food does the trick.

If that fails, try feeding your cat wet food. Most cats love wet food, and will quickly take to eating it. Wet food has the benefit of being the healthiest alternative.

Try increasing the amount you feed your cat and see if it starts gaining back some of the lost weight.

Stress and Anxiety

Just like us humans, stress and anxiety can have an impact on a cat’s appetite and weight. When cats are stressed or anxious, they may lose their appetite. This can cause a cat to quit eating entirely.

Cats find loud, noisy environments stressful, whether it’s a crying baby or a barking dog. Also, if your cat has been hurt by another pet, it may experience stress and anxiety when that pet is in the same room. Keeping the sources of loud noise to a minimum will help your cat remain in a relaxed, peaceful state.

In some cases, cats may become anorexic, and refuse to eat altogether. This is often caused by chronic stress. Cats can develop psychological disorders, too, which can also cause anorexia. If you are concerned about your cat not eating and/or behaving in strange ways, take your cat to the vet and have him looked at. There are medications available for cats to help with these conditions.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Cats can develop allergies, even intolerances to certain ingredients in their cat food. If your cat is refusing to eat, and has symptoms of gastrointestinal issues, try switching to a different cat food and see if the symptoms go away.

If your cat is eating normally, but is losing weight, it could be due to parasites, the most common of which is roundworm. The most common way for adult cats to get roundworms is through the rodents they catch. If you have a cat that likes to hunt mice, routinely check for worms in its feces. If you find any, your veterinarian will prescribe medication to de-worm your cat.

For older cats, constipation can become a problem. If your cat is struggling with constipation, talk with your vet about fiber supplements or high fiber cat food for your cat.


Weight loss in older cats is often due to hyperthyroidism. When your cat’s thyroid is overactive, it causes a really high metabolism. With this condition, your cat may eat twice as much food, but still lose weight. If your cat fits this description, take her to your vet and have her checked for hyperthyroidism.

If your cat is diagnosed with this condition, your veterinarian will prescribe thyroid medication to restore proper thyroid function in your cat.


Nobody likes to talk about cancer in a pet. However, there are cases where sudden weight loss was due to cancer. Cancer robs your cat of the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. If you feel any bumps or lumps where there shouldn’t be any, get your cat to a vet and have it checked for cancer. Like with people, the sooner cancer is detected in your cat, the quicker it can be removed, restoring your cat’s health.

He's Just a Skinny Cat

Certain cat breeds are just smaller. If your cat is healthy and has no problems eating, he may just be a skinny cat. My cat, Eevee, is a good example of this. He's a great eater and loves a good bowl of wet food, but he hovers right around 8lbs and he's very skinny.

When we first adopted him, we were worried about how skinny he was, so we brought him to the vet. Fortunately, there were no issues found. Our vet simply told us he was naturally a skinny cat. If your feline friend is a healthy, but looks skinny, he may just be a small breed!

Parting Thoughts

Cats may gain or lose weight and develop conditions common to getting older. Like us, our cats like to eat fresh food served in clean bowls, and prefer the litter box be placed away from their food and water. If your cat quits eating, it can be caused by stress, food allergy or intolerance, or a change in taste. A lot of common conditions can be remedied with small environmental changes and/or changes to diet.

Most medical conditions can be effectively treated when detected early. When you think about it, cats age a lot like we do, with similar changes and medical conditions. If your cat begins to lose weight, it is a good idea to have him checked out by a vet, just in case there is an underlying medical condition that needs attention.

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