Helping Your Senior Cat Gain Weight

Helping your senior cat gain weight

Photo by Manja Vitolic on Unsplash

 

As cats age, they may experience health issues that can lead to unhealthy weight loss. Senior cats also have unique nutritional needs, and failing to meet them can result in your cat dropping below a healthy weight due to malnourishment.

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for your senior cat’s overall wellbeing, so if they appear to be losing weight or are already underweight, it’s essential that you identify the reason for their weight loss, so you can treat the issue and restore a healthy body condition.

Why your older cat might be losing weight

There are several reasons why your senior cat might be losing weight, such as dental issues that prevent them from eating, decreased muscle mass due to ageing, gastrointestinal problems, or other underlying health issues, such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, or cancer. Additionally, depression, stress, and anxiety can also lead to a lack of appetite, which can ultimately cause weight loss.

Signs of unhealthy weight loss

Some of the main signs of unhealthy weight loss are a bony appearance and low energy levels. You may also notice that they have a dull and sunken appearance in and around their eyes, or that the condition of your cat’s coat has deteriorated , as depression and anxiety can sometimes lead cats to stop grooming themselves. If you spot any of these symptoms in your senior cat, get them seen by your vet to assess the cause of their weight loss and what kind of action can be taken.

What is a healthy weight for your cat?

The ideal weight for your cat will vary depending on their breed, age, and gender. You can use the body condition guide found on ADVANCE™ dry food packs to assess your cat’s body condition. Compare your cat to the silhouettes on pack to determine their body condition score. A score of 3 is ideal, which means that your cat’s ribs have a slight fat covering, so they can be felt but not seen, and they have a small amount of abdominal fat. As your cat ages, achieving this BCS can become more challenging, as their appetite might reduce or they may need a specific diet, but it’s important to do your best to keep their weight up.

Why maintaining a healthy weight is important

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial when managing several underlying health conditions in senior cats, helping to manage and, at times, prevent chronic diseases, improve mobility, and promote healthy ageing. Being underweight is likely to lower their energy levels, while weakening their immune system, putting them at risk of infections.

How to help senior cats gain and maintain weight

Helping your senior cat gain and maintain weight requires a combination of diet, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, the addition of supplements or medication. Be sure to talk to your vet about the best course of action for your cat.

Diet and food changes

Switching to a high-calorie cat food or adding a supplement to their diet can help increase caloric intake. It’s also beneficial to choose a special senior food, such as OPTIMUM™ Mature cat food, that provides the nutrients your cat needs in their later years. If your cat’s appetite has decreased, you can try feeding them small meals more frequently throughout the day, as they might find smaller portions easier to handle. Additionally, warming up your cat's food can help make it more appealing, as it amplifies the aroma.

Lifestyle changes

Encouraging your cat to exercise can also help them gain and maintain a healthy weight, as it supports muscle maintenance and a healthy appetite. You can do this by creating an environment that stimulates your cat's natural instincts to play, hunt, and climb, and by providing toys and interactive games that promote physical activity and mental stimulation. You can also offer your cat treats as rewards for playing, to up their calorie intake.

When to see your vet

If your cat has lost a lot of weight or has gone off their food, it’s crucial to get them seen by a vet. They will be able to identify the cause of your senior cat’s weight loss, recommend a healthy diet, and provide treatment options in the case there are underlying health issues. Additionally, as your cat gets older, routine veterinary check-ups are important to assess their overall health and spot health complications before they become severe.

Ensuring your senior cat maintains a healthy weight is vital for their overall health and wellbeing. By knowing the signs and causes of unhealthy weight loss, and by making the necessary diet and lifestyle changes, you can help keep your cat happy and healthy. For more tips and advice on your cat’s health, check out our pet care blog.

 

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