A Practical Guide for Managing Underweight Cats

by Curious Cat People December 09, 2021 5 min read

A Practical Guide for Managing Underweight Cats

While feline obesity is often the focus when it comes to cat care, underweight cats also face a whole host of problems. Not only is it sometimes difficult to tell if your cat is underweight, it can be equally hard for your cat to gain weight as it is to lose weight!

Managing the health of an underweight cat isn’t as simple as changing food portions - it’s often important to look at the underlying causes of being underweight.

A Practical Guide for Managing Underweight Cats

Why Is My Cat Underweight?

There are plenty of reasons why your cat might be underweight. While it could be a simple issue of your cat disliking their food, it could also be a sign of other health issues. If you suspect your cat may have other underlying health conditions, make sure to send them to a vet for a proper check up.

Insufficient Food

At its heart, your cat’s weight is affected by their food. While this may seem like an obvious reason, food intake is often overlooked when it comes to our feline friends.

Make sure to follow the feeding guidelines on your chosen brand of cat food. However, it’s also important to note that cats who are more active will burn more calories and hence, will require more food! Your cat may also be getting insufficient food due to other external factors like competition with other cats in the house. If you’re facing this issue, make sure to separate your pets during feeding time!

They Dislike Their Food

Cats can be picky, picky animals! These creatures of comfort expect nothing but the best and may lose interest in their food sometimes. If your cat is on the pickier side, consider spicing up their diet with different toppers and wet food like Wellness Core’s Tiny Tasters Cat Food.

A Practical Guide for Managing Underweight Cats


As your cat grows older, their body as well as their metabolism rate starts to change. For some cats, it can drop rather quickly, making it hard to distinguish if your cat is underweight due to age or illness. In this case, it’s recommended to send your cat to the vet early if they experience sharp weight loss and/or extended periods of being underweight.

Health Issues

As mentioned, underweight cats may be losing weight due to disease. In general, a sick cat will lose their appetite, become more lethargic and as result, are more likely to lose weight quickly.

Some of the health issues that can cause extreme or extended weight loss includes diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, internal parasites or other issues. Keep an eye out for changes in your cat’s overall behaviour and wellbeing.


Some important symptoms to look out for include:

  • Drinking excessive amounts of water and urinating more than usual (Could be a sign of diabetes)
  • Urinary Tract infections
  • Lethargy
  • Lost appetite
  • Fever
  • Increased activity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle wasting

Mental Health

Just like humans, cats can suffer from mental health issues like stress or anxiety. Cats are especially susceptible to mental health conditions when their environment or routine changes. Other things like excessive noise, dirty food dishes or the closeness of their food dish from their litter box can also affect your cat’s mental wellbeing.

Make sure to spend enough time playing with your cat every day and monitor their overall mood and mental health!

A Practical Guide for Managing Underweight Cats

Tips to Boosting Your Cat’s Weight

The foremost method of helping your underweight cat gain weight is to identify the underlying cause and address it directly. If your cat is diagnosed with any health condition, make the required adjustments to your cat’s diet and lifestyle quickly.

However, if your cat is still struggling with gaining weight, take a look at the following tips!

#1 Find the Right Food

Different cats require different types of food. Not just due to their tastes and preferences, but also due to the type of cat they are. For instance, their age affects the type of food you should select for them. If they have pre-existing health conditions, the right diet will also be helpful for their general health.

In general, make sure to select high quality cat food for weight gain like MEOW’s Freeze Dried Raw Beef and Hoki Cat Food. These types of diets, especially freeze dried options, can be extra nourishing for your cat and packed full of important vitamins, antioxidants and protein.

Another key factor to note when it comes to selecting the right cat food is your cat’s preferences. Cats can be extra picky when it comes to food. Thankfully, most cats will find wet cat food hard to resist due to it’s stronger taste and smell. Try nutritious and high-calorie cat food like Schesir's Pink Salmon and Carrots soup pouch to help your cat get back their appetite.

When changing your cat’s diet, make sure to transition your cat slowly to other brands of food. Heating up your cat’s food may also help make it more palatable!

A Practical Guide for Managing Underweight Cats

#2 Pick the Right Portions

Food portioning is another key method of helping your cat gain weight. Again, it’s important to follow the feeding guidelines provided by your selected cat food brand. However, it’s also important to keep cat weight gain in mind.

Adult cats between 4-6 kg require at least 180-220 kcal a day. However, this recommendation often focuses on helping them maintain their weight rather than gain it. Hence, you may need to multiply the recommended food intake by at least 1.3 times. Feline portion sizing is not an exact science - you’ll have to monitor your cat’s weight and keep adjusting their portions accordingly!

#3 Give Your Cat More Small Meals

Another way to help your cat gain weight is to split mealtimes up. Cats have small stomachs around the size of a ping pong ball. If your cat is having trouble finishing their food in one go, give them more frequent meals - such as feeding them one tablespoon of food every few hours.

Snacks between meals can also be a great way to boost your cat’s appetite. Tasty cat treats like Food For The Good’s Freeze Dried Mackerel can be a lifesaver for underweight cats as they provide a much needed boost in your cat’s calorie intake throughout the day.

A Practical Guide for Managing Underweight Cats

#4 Add On to Your Cat’s Diet

While your cat is on their weight gain journey, it’s important to help boost their general wellbeing. Underweight cats are generally more susceptible to health problems as their body lacks sufficient nutrients and calories.

To combat this, consider giving your cat supplements like Labivet Skin and Gut Probiotic. General health supplements like these will definitely help to make up for the lost nutritions when your cat isn’t able to finish their food.

If you want to help boost your cat’s weight gain efforts, cat milk replacers can also help greatly.

#5 Send Your Cat To A Vet

Like we’ve mentioned before, weight loss or extended periods of being underweight can be a sign of something serious. If you’ve tried the other tips in this article to no avail, send your cat to a vet right away.

Not only will a licensed cat veterinarian be able to diagnose if your cat has other health issues, they may also be able to advise you further on this topic. For instance, some veterinarians may suggest medication that helps boost your cat’s appetite.

A Practical Guide for Managing Underweight Cats

At the end of the day, monitoring your cat’s weight can tell you a lot about how your cat is doing. If you do notice your cat losing weight or being underweight, it’s essential to think of a plan of action. The most important thing is to feed your cat what they want, in the way they will be most willing to eat!









Tammi Chng
Tammi is an avid writer, but especially loves learning and writing about animals! She spends her free time visiting cat cafes, playing video games and having plenty of cuddle time with her pup.

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