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How To Get Old Cat To Gain Weight

How Can My Veterinarian Help

How To Make An Old Skinny Cat Gain Weight

Regular veterinary examinations and discussions about your cats behaviors at home will allow your veterinarian to provide recommendations on how to keep your senior cat healthy. These visits are often recommended more frequently than once a year as problems occur more quickly in older cats, especially if they have a chronic disease such as kidney disease or arthritis.

“Laboratory tests including blood, urine, and fecal tests are recommendeded at least once yearly.”

Laboratory tests including blood, urine, and fecal tests are recommendeded at least once yearly to detect changes to organ function before cats show signs of disease or to monitor the progression of organ disease. Weight and body and muscle condition will be evaluated as part of a complete physical examination. All of this monitoring allows you and your veterinarian to detect disease earlier, to provide more effective management and treatment, which will ensure a good quality of life for your cat.

Contributors: Krista Williams, BSc, DVM

How To Put Weight On A Cat


It can be hard to know whether or not your cat is too skinny. In the U.S., roughly 60 percent of cats are overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Similarly, 39 to 52 percent of U.K. cats are overweight, according to International Cat Care. Because so many of the cats we see are overweight, a normal weight may seem abnormally thin to their pet parents. It can also be hard to tell whether your cat is skinny if they have long hair or a sagging belly .

While a skinny cat isn’t necessarily a cause for an emergency trip to the veterinarian, if you find yourself searching “How to put weight on a cat,” then it’s probably time for further investigation.

When Is A Cat Considered To Be Senior Or Geriatric

The American Association of Feline Practitioners consider cats between 11-14 years of age to be senior while geriatric cats are 15 years and older.

“Before you consider switching to a senior cat food formula, it is important to first consult with your cat’s veterinarian for a thorough physical and metabolic evaluation.”

At an approximate mid-life point, when a cat is considered mature , it is common for cats to gain some weight and exhibit age-related physical and behavior changes. But before you consider switching to a senior cat food formula, it is important to first consult with your cat’s veterinarian for a thorough physical and metabolic evaluation. Since many of the diseases commonly found in older cats can be detected early on, your cat’s veterinarian may recommend a nutrient profile to deal specifically with any current medical concerns.

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How Old Is My Cat In Human Years

Cats age about four human years to their one year. This is what makes regular checkups so important! A lot can happen in 4 human years. Cats are considered to be seniors when they are between 11-14 years and are the equivalent of a human senior between the age of 60-72 years old. Cats over 14 years of age are considered to be geriatric and are comparable to humans that are 76-100 years or more!

First Check With A Veterinarian

How to Get a Skinny Old Cat to Gain Weight?

Before you choose to increase your cats weight, check what he needs with his veterinarian first.

Ask about your cats ideal weight range and find out how much he needs to gain.

Also be sure to check if your cats low weight or lack of appetite comes from an illness.

Let your veterinarian prescribe vitamins or medicine, if needed.

Have your cat come back for checkups to make sure he is in his proper weight range.

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Is It Normal For An Old Cat To Get Skinny

Cats that range in age from 1 – 7 years in age to have a normal body weight with less than 1% of these cats being obese. As a cat becomes more mature and passes his 7th birthday 28%can actually become obese.

Cats over the age of 12 may start to lose weight and 23% of older cats will actually be underweight. Cats follow the same timeline for their bodies as humans do. We tend to gain weight as we approach age 50 or more and as we pass later birthdays we lose muscle mass and weight as well.

It is a natural part of life for cats to lose a little bit of weight later in life. A significant amount of weight can indicate bigger problems.

How To Feed A Cat To Help Them Gain Weight

Its important your cat feels stress-free and comfortable during mealtime so it starts to eat regularly and gain weight. Some of the ways you can do that include:Splitting their daily portion into smaller meals you put down regularlyHeating up their food to release the aromas and encourage their appetiteAvoiding watching your cat eating, as they can find this stressfulConsidering what they like to eat from and making it easily accessibleSeparating their food, litter, drinking and playing areas to mimic what they would do in the wildTalking to your veterinarian about appetite-stimulating drugs for your catYour veterinarian will be able to advise you on the best ways to make sure your cat gains the right amount of weight and maintains a healthy lifestyle. Make sure that you book an appointment with them if youre unsure of the best course of action.

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Why Older Cats Are At A Higher Risk Of Obesity

In general, cats enter their golden years around the age of 12. And as they do, they face a higher risk of obesity due to a slowing metabolism, inactivity and, in some cases, loss in muscle mass.

Additionally, senior cats often face arthritis and osteoarthritis, which can be contributing factors to weight gain.

Not only that, but obesity can increase their risk for several potentially compounding health concerns, including urinary tract disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, arthritis, liver disease, lameness, skin conditions, cancer, pancreatitis, GI diseases, infections and a decreased life span.

What might simply seem like a few extra pounds can actually turn into a much bigger issue. As a cat parent, you can help your cat maintain a healthy weight, even as their aging body begins to change.

Check Out The Best Cat Foods For Weight Gain

How to Help a Cat Gain Weight

To help your cat gain weight, you may want to switch to a nutritionally balanced cat food made with at least 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat. A recipe made primarily with meat, poultry, or fish is likely to be appealing and digestible.

Here are our top picks for the best cat food for weight gain:

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What Is The Best Cat Food For Weight Gain

Chiefly, the best cat food for weight gain is one that addresses the root of your cats weight problem.

Again, your cats unique situation dictates their dietary needs.

Generally speaking, an abnormally low weight is the result of either a poor appetite, mouth problems, or a condition thats preventing the cat from maintaining a healthy weight. The latter category includes intestinal worms or a thyroid condition like hyperthyroidism.

In most cases, this means that the best cat foods for weight gain provide a combination of palatability and calorie density.

Remember that senior cats need high-quality protein to prevent muscle wasting.

Senior cats, with their tendency to lose muscle mass and become skinny old cats, are usually the first group to require food for weight gain. It was once recommended that senior cats eat low-protein diets due to a possible connection between excessive protein and the kidney failure experienced by so many senior cats.

More current research, however, indicates that a diet rich in high-quality animal protein can help prevent sarcopenia of aging the muscle wasting associated with old age. Cats are still carnivores, so protein is an essential part of your cats diet, regardless of his weight.

If your cat has a poor appetite, choose foods and supplements that help to rev up their desire to eat.

Here are a few foods, food toppers, and supplements that have a history of encouraging peckish cats to eat.

  • Bonito flakes

Encourage Exercise & Play

I also recommend encouraging your cat to exercise. This might sound counterintuitive surely more active cats will burn more through more calories and lose more weight? In reality, encouraging your senior cat to remain active helps them maintain muscle mass. With enough protein, you might even be able to help your senior kitty build more muscle back up again.

When you increase muscle mass, you also boost metabolism. The better your cats metabolism, the easier it can digest food. This means their appetite will increase. Plus, they can effectively extract all the nutrients from every single mouthful.


Now you should know what to feed your old cat that is losing weight! With these tips, your cat should gradually gain weight in a healthy and natural process.

Stick with calorie-dense senior cat food for weight gain which is high in protein. You can also use treats and supplements to deliver more calories each day. Remember to feed small yet frequent portions as well so your cat can digest it more easily, and stick with wet cat food where possible.

Before you make any diet changes though, make sure you speak to your vet. You need to rule out underlying medical conditions as a cause of weight loss. Be particularly cautious about diet changes if you have a cat with kidney issues as well. Your vet knows best, so dont be shy to ask for help.

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Make The Food More Attractive

Some cats can be very fussy and you will need to use your imagination to sneak in more calories. Things like using the broth from the boiled chicken to your cats food, playing with the consistency, the presentation or shape and the temperature of the food are all resources you can try. Many cats begin accepting food after it has been prewarmed. If you think about the fact that a freshly-hunted prey in the wild has a certain temperature, it makes sense that cats would prefer their meals a bit on the warm side, right? Just remember, dont offer it too hot! If your cat gets burned, all your efforts can be lost as it will make their weary of trying your next meal.

Quality Of Their Current Diet

How to get a skinny old cat to gain weight

Cats are obligate carnivores and require a diet based mostly on animal proteins with a moderate amount of fat and very limited carbohydrates. The quality of the base protein source in your cats diet is very important for their overall health. The amino acids derived from the protein source are the building blocks of your cats muscle tissue and maintenance of the vital organs. Unlike herbivores or omnivores, carnivores cannot survive only on vegetable sources of protein, they cannot produce essential amino acids such as taurine and arginine and rely only on their diet to obtain them.

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When Do Cats Start To Get Old

Middle age for most cats is now generally considered to start at seven years. Many vets are now starting to provide senior care programmes and these are worth considering. Picking up early changes in your pet enables early diagnosis and treatment and may considerably improve quality of life.

As your cat ages, it’s kind to provide an indoor litter tray, even if your cat normally toilets outdoors. Because they must be slower on their feet, older cats may feel vulnerable outside and providing an indoor tray will help prevent toileting problems. Ones with low sides that are easy to step into are best.

How Do I Get My Cat To Gain Weight

Monitoring your cats weight is a great way to get some hints about how well they are eating and if their overall health is on track. Kittens should steadily gain weight until the reach adulthood, after which their bodyweight should be maintained. If you notice your cat losing weight, you are right to be concerned. There are a number of reasons your cat will suddenly lose weight and some of them are caused by serious illnesses. Read on to learn more about how to monitor your cats bodyweight and what to do if your cat is too thin.

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Is Your Cat Underweight

The first step for getting your cat to gain weight is recognising that theyre underweight. This might seem obvious, but lots of people with healthy cats of an ideal weight feel that their pet is too skinny, so its important to know how to properly evaluate your cats weight rather than risk them becoming obese.

A cat is considered to be underweight if their ribs are visible through their coat.

Similarly, if the spine or hip bones are easily visible, they may need to gain a little weight. If you arent sure whether your cat needs to put some weight on, its a good idea to pop them into the veterinarian for a quick check-up.

Weight Loss Or Decrease In Appetite

How to Increase Weight on a Cat

Weight loss is the number one cat cancer symptom, often the sign of a gastrointestinal tumor. Cats, like other animals, are motivated by food, and when theyre denying that delicious catnip or wet food, you should know something is up. Keep an eye on any changes in their weight or appetite so that you can report your concerns to the vet.

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What Can I Do To Help My Senior Cat Have The Best Quality Of Life

Cats are extremely adept at hiding illness so close observation is key. The earlier a problem is detected and identified, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

Is your cat following her normal pattern and taking naps in many areas of your home? Cats who are not feeling well do not move around as much and only have a few sleeping areas. You can monitor your cat’s muscle condition as you pet her, noting how easy it is to feel the bumps along her spine and the bones of her hips. These should not be palpable on the average healthy cat. As well as feeling her muscle, you can also feel lumps in your cat while you are petting her and let your veterinarian know what, when, and where you felt them.

“Cats are extremely adept at hiding illness so close observation is key. The earlier a problem is detected and identified, the more successful treatment is likely to be.”

Brushing your cats coat daily can help you evaluate her coat quality How soft is it? Are there any knots or mats of hair? Are there any fleas or lesions on the skin? Brushing her coat daily can help with her own grooming, especially in places that she may have difficulty reaching due to arthritis. Daily brushing also helps stimulate blood circulation to the skin which further increases skin health. Nails should be checked weekly as older cats can develop thick nails which do not shed normally and can grow right into their pads.

Try Some Pantry Items

Generally, you are discouraged from giving a cat people food, but desperate times may call for desperate measures. Don’t feed your cat any foods that will only make the condition worse.

A small amount of plain, unsweetened yogurt on top of the food adds calories and entices Kitty to eat more.

Canned sardines and mackerel are acceptable if packed in water rather than oil with no salt. Both yogurt and sardines have calcium and yogurt has probiotics. They’re also both foods cats are fond of.

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Arthritis And Muscular Problems

As he ages, your cat might get stiff and sore and become reluctant to move around. Some cats, especially those who have suffered joint injuries when younger, develop arthritis, which can be mild or debilitating. If your cat seems to avoid jumping or climbing where he used to or if he seems to move stiffly, talk to your vet. Nutritional supplements help in some cases, and if his symptoms are severe, your vet might prescribe anti-inflammatory or pain medications.


Never give your cat any medication unless you are specifically instructed to do so by a veterinarian. Some medications are lethal for cats even in small doses.

Senior cats also tend to lose muscle mass and tone, making movement more difficult and leading to even more muscle loss. Lack of exercise has additional harmful effects on your older cat’s heart, digestive system, and emotional health as well, and lack of muscle support will exacerbate the effects of arthritis.

Exercise is important throughout your cat’s life, and moderate exercise remains important into advanced old age. You can encourage your senior feline to move around in a number of ways. Make life easier for him by placing ramps where he used to leap . Appeal to his feline curiosity with empty paper bags or cardboard boxes he can explore or crumpled papers or toys he can chase and bat around. Gentle games will help him stay in shape and alert and also reinforce the bond between the two of you.

Why Your Cat Is Thin

7 Month Old Kitten Doesn

First of all, you have to identify why you need to get your cat fattened up. Did your cat have a litter of kittens recently? She may be burning calories just feeding her babies.

Does he share his food dish with other cats? He might be getting bullied out of his fair share. Does she go outside often?

She may have a parasite inside her that’s digesting her food or maybe she lost a tooth in a scuffle. Is your cat elderly? Could be either a disease or just loss of appetite.

Very young cats will burn calories easily. A cat that’s depressed or stressed out might just not be in the mood to eat. Always consult a veterinarian before making drastic changes to your cat’s diet.

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