How to Get a Skinny Old Cat to Gain Weight

An aging cat's weight may go up, or it may go down. As your cat gets older, she may not be playing with your homemade cat toys as much as she did when she was younger. Much like in humans, a lack of activity, particularly with indoor cats, may cause weight gain as a cat gets older. Conversely, though, some aging cats can lose weight. If your senior cat needs to gain weight, you can do a few things to help.

Heterochromia black white cat
How to Get a Skinny Old Cat to Gain Weight
credit: LexyLovesArt/iStock/GettyImages

The Feline Nutrition Foundation talks about the health risks to your cat if she becomes a skinny, old kitty. Just as in humans, muscle in cats weighs more than fat does. As a human gains muscle mass, their weight increases. As a human ages, they lose muscle mass, unless they exercise and build muscle to make up for that natural loss. In cats, aging similarly causes a loss in muscle mass.

Cat food for weight gain

As cats age, they are not able to absorb and metabolize protein as efficiently as a young cat. Therefore, it's vital to feed aging cats high-quality protein, which is from animal sources rather than grain-based sources. According to the Feline Nutrition Foundation, it's important to remember that cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they want to and need to eat meat. An ideal cat diet is protein-rich, carbohydrate-poor. A cat's diet in the wild is 50-to-60 percent protein, 30-to-50 percent fat, and 5-to-10 percent carbohydrates.

Even if your cat is relatively young, cat underweight treatment must take into consideration the fact that all cats need to consume higher amounts of protein as they age. You don't have to have a 20-year-old cat for him to be considered a senior. A cat is a senior at 10-years-of-age and might need high-calorie cat food at that time. The increase in protein helps prevent a loss of lean body mass associated with muscle wasting. You can feed your cat high-calorie cat food or other cat food formulated for weight gain, which will have higher amounts of protein in it.

Cat food for weight gain should also take into account a cat's increased need for water as he ages. If your cat food is dry, your cat will need access to a lot of water. Wet cat food and even foods that the cat may eat in the wild contain a high amount of water. According to the website of veterinarian Ron Hines, dry food is more calorically dense than wet food, but it contains less water. With a decrease in water, a cat is at risk for developing kidney diseases.

Causes for cat weight loss

Not all cat weight loss is caused by a lack of high-calorie cat food. Some legitimate medical conditions can cause a cat to lose weight, and when addressed, the cat's weight can return to normal. According to Dr. Hines, hyperthyroidism <ahref="https: www.2ndchance.info="" oldcat.htm"=""> </ahref="https:>is a common problem in older cats, and this leads to weight loss. With an underactive thyroid, the cat is still active and may appear healthy, but also may end up with high blood pressure, digestive upsets, excessive thirst and urination, and heart and biochemical issues. A thyroid test diagnoses the problem, and the condition can be treated with medication.

A senior diet for cats

According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, pet owners should start their cats on cat food for weight gain at about seven-years-old. While a cat is not considered a senior until she is about 10, starting a high-calorie cat food early can prevent some of the loss of muscle mass that occurs as cats age.

A cat might also have dental problems which can prevent her from eating dry cat food. If your veterinarian recommends dry cat food, talk to him about the possibility of moistening the cat food with a little water or broth, so your cat is getting extra water, and the cat food is softer on her aging teeth.