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My Pet World: Ask vet for help with nutrition plan for cat who's losing weight

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I have a rag doll cat who is 8. It has always been an indoor cat. The cat is active and friendly. The issue is weight loss. It's not much, but every time the cat is taken to the vet, the cat has lost a few ounces in weight. The cat's diet has always been a high-grade dry food.

I have tried many different foods to try to get the cat to eat more to gain weight, so far with no success. Any suggestions?

- Howard, Ronkonkoma, New York

Dear Howard,

Gradual weight loss can signal many things, from hormone imbalances, allergies and dental problems to illnesses and cancer. If your veterinarian has assured you that the weight loss is not health-related, then it could be the result of stress or aging. Cats can lose weight as seniors, and this can occur gradually over time.


If you think your cat is stressed, plug in feline pheromones around the home or place a pheromone collar around your cat's neck to reduce anxiety.

If it's related to aging, you can increase your cat's calorie count. It's about quality though, not quantity. Don't feed senior pet foods yet, as they are lower in calories. Switch to a high-quality, high-calorie wet food. Wet foods tend to be higher in calories than dry food. Look for foods higher in fat and protein, around 20% fat and at least 30% protein.

You can add cat food toppers to dry and wet food to encourage eating and add extra calories. Feeding your cat some cooked meat, such as boiled, unsalted chicken, can add extra protein and calories too.

My suggestion though, is that you don't try to do this on your own. Because it sounds as though you take your cat for regular check-ups, you can ask your veterinarian to determine your cat's caloric needs to maintain or put on weight and recommend a comprehensive meal plan. Most people don't know veterinarians do this, but they do, and it's very helpful to have a nutrition plan specific to your cat's needs.


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