7 reasons for weight loss in cats with normal blood work
Weight loss in cats can be related to many issues, just like in humans. So even if all the tests come back normal, there is more for you to look at as your cat’s caretaker.
Blood tests will tell your veterinarian if there are any abnormal numbers present in your cat's blood work, such as a low white blood cell count or high liver enzymes. Abnormal bloodwork alone does not necessarily indicate that your cat has a disease, but it may indicate that there is something wrong with his body that needs further investigation. Blood work can help identify infections or cancers that may be affecting your cat's weight.
More specific testing may be required if nothing is identified with the initial bloodwork. However, some illnesses seen in cats may not be visible on their bloodwork and they may come back as normal. Once the bloodwork has returned to the veterinarian as normal, it's time to begin looking for other causes of weight loss.
1) Dental problems in cats
The most common reason for weight loss in cats is dental disease. In fact, dental disease is a leading cause of poor appetite in cats and can lead to other serious health problems. The good news is that dental disease can be treated easily with regular brushing, teeth cleaning and home care.
Dental problems, including tooth abscesses or periodontal disease, can cause pain when chewing on food. Cats can also develop a condition called malocclusion where their teeth don't fit together properly, which makes it difficult for them to chew their food properly, resulting in weight loss even though they are eating regularly without vomiting or diarrhea.
Of course, if there is an infection present, it should be noticed on their complete blood panel. However, if it’s at the beginning of its course, elevated levels in the bloodwork may not yet be apparent.
If you notice any signs of dental disease in your cat, such as swollen gums or redness around the mouth, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away to discuss treatment options and prevention methods.
2) Weight loss in older cats
Age-related weight loss doesn't always mean your senior cat is unhealthy or sick. As cats age, they may lose weight for a number of reasons. As they become less active and their metabolism slows, they tend to lose weight. This can be a serious problem, particularly if it occurs suddenly. Cats are very sensitive to changes in their bodies, and sudden weight loss can be extremely stressful for them. It can also cause health problems if it goes on for too long.
When your cat loses weight, you should take him to the veterinarian for a checkup. A veterinarian can help determine the cause of your cat's weight loss and give you advice on how to feed them properly now that they're in their senior years.
3) Lack of appetite
If your cat has a reduced appetite, don't force them to eat. However, you should make sure they have access to food at all times. If they are feeling sick or have a fever, they might not want to eat even if they are hungry. A cat's mouth can be quite sensitive, so dental issues may cause the cat to not want to eat if it's painful for them.
If you have a cat with normal blood work and no obvious signs of illness that is still not eating, then it's time to take them in for an ultrasound or X-ray. The vet will look at their abdomen or chest and see if there are any masses that could be causing your cat's lack of appetite.
This can be very scary for owners, but don't worry: most masses are benign (not cancerous), so they can safely be removed without any long-term health consequences, and a multitude of other ailments, including behavioral ones, could be causing their lack of appetite.
4) Picky eaters
If your cat hasn't been eating well and you have changed their food recently, mixing the new food with the old in increasing amounts can help. For example, if you're trying to transition from a dry diet to canned food, mix a little bit of the dry into the wet until it's all combined together. You can also try adding tuna juice or other wet food to your dry kibble. This may be easier on their stomachs than switching completely to canned food.
You might find that the best solution is just continuing with the same kind of diet but adding more calories in other forms (tuna juice, chicken juice, chicken broth containing zero sodium).
5) Stress of anxiety in cats
Anxiety can occur for several reasons in cats. The most common cause is related to a change in their environment, such as moving to a new home. Other causes include being left alone with no human contact, a lack of attention from their owners, and even being left in an uncomfortable room.
Cats are very sensitive animals and have a tendency to hide signs of illness or pain. This makes it difficult to diagnose anxiety in cats because they do not always show obvious symptoms. Some of the most common signs of stress include:
- Hiding or avoiding certain places or situations
- Pacing back and forth
- Licking or biting themselves excessively
- Not eating or drinking normally
Anxious cats are not necessarily more vocal than other cats, but they tend to be more reactive. They may hide and avoid contact with people or other animals. The cat's body language can also be very telling. An anxious cat will often have their tail down or tucked between their legs, and may flatten their ears against their head. They may also approach people or other animals in a slow, cautious manner.
6) Eating garbage
If you have a cat who is currently going through the "garbage phase," you can put the trash cans out of reach or make sure they're tightly covered. If your cat is more persistent and refuses to be put off by this measure, try placing food out of reach. Most cats will find their meal, but they won't get to it until after they've eaten their fill of trash.
7) Imbalanced gut health
If your cat has an imbalance in their gut, known as dysbiosis, weight loss or weight gain can result. Of course, even an apparently healthy cat can benefit from probiotics, like Daily Cat. Cats that are experiencing changes in their weight may benefit significantly.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your cat's digestive tract. These beneficial bacteria can help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your cat's gut. When this balance is disturbed, it can lead to digestive problems.
When your cat has a healthy gut flora, he will be able to digest food better, absorb nutrients better and fight off harmful bacteria that could make them sick.
Watch your cat’s metabolism
Sudden weight loss in cats can be a sign of illness, but it can also be due to the cat's normal metabolism. If you are concerned about your cat's weight, talk to your vet about the best way to determine if your cat is at an ideal weight.
Here are some tips for determining if your cat is underweight:
- Check your vet's record book. Your vet may have information on past weights or a chart showing how much a healthy cat should weigh.
- Compare with other cats. If you have other cats at home, compare them to each other and look for differences in weight and size. If one is significantly smaller than the other, the smaller one may need more calories than the larger one.
- Feel the ribs. You should be able to feel the ribs under the skin when you touch your pet's sides. If they are not there or if they are very prominent, this could be a sign that your pet needs more food and exercise.
Be your cat’s advocate
If you suspect there is something wrong with your cat despite their blood work being normal, seek a second opinion or inquire about the possibilities listed above with your veterinarian. Consider getting your cat assessed by a veterinarian behaviorist if you suspect weight loss is due to a behavioral issue after ruling out medical factors. These experts can help establish if the behavior is being caused by an underlying problem.
And don’t forget that FullBucket’s Daily Cat can help improve your cat’s gut health and support a healthy weight.