How to Get a Skinny Old Cat to Gain Weight

Weight loss is one of the more common problems senior cats experience as they age. If your aging feline is becoming all skin and bones, you'll want to involve your veterinarian. The vet will determine why your cat is losing weight and will take action to help the cat put the lost weight back on in a way that will assure he stays as healthy as possible.

Young white cat with blue eyes on the street.
Your cat's weight can be a good indicator of his overall health.
credit: Maciej Bledowski/iStock/Getty Images

Medical Causes for Weight Loss

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, common health problems for older cats include cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, dental disease, urinary problems, arthritis and hyperthyroidism, which can contribute to a cat's weight loss. If your cat has been losing weight, he needs to go to the veterinarian for a full examination. Your veterinarian will most likely take samples of your cat's blood so he can run diagnostic tests on your pet. He will need to determine whether a medical reason is the cause of your cat's weight loss and how to best treat that condition so that your cat can begin regaining his weight.

Weight Gain and Cats

Assuming that your veterinarian gives your cat a clean bill of health, you will need to add calories to your cat's diet in order to get him to gain weight. Your senior cat will gain weight if you can successfully increase the number of calories he is consuming on a daily basis. The Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California at Davis recommends feeding 25 percent more food to your cat daily until he gains the amount of weight your veterinarian feels is appropriate.

Feeding Your Senior Cat

You can try feeding your cat a cat food that is specially designed for senior cats. If your cat has been eating normally, you should gradually transition him over onto the new food by feeding a little bit of the new food in with the old food, adding more of the new and less of the old over the course of a week or more until the cat is eating only the new diet. This slow transition ensures that the cat's body becomes accustomed to the new food. When he's on the new diet exclusively, feed him several meals a day. Some older cats have problems eating dry food; they may need to be given wet food instead, because it is easier to chew. You may also try mixing wet food with dry.

Other Conisderations

Feed your senior cat alone and in an area where other animals do not have access to him. This way you can monitor his food intake and prevent him from being chased away from the food by younger, more aggressive animals. Talk with your veterinarian about adding dietary supplements to your cat's diet that will help improve his overall nutrient intake and his health.