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What is Weight Loss and Chronic Disease?

A cat that is losing weight, but still consuming food is likely affected by chronic disease. Your veterinarian may refer to this condition as cachexia, the term used to describe the wasting and weakness of one’s body due to chronic illness.

Any time a cat loses a significant amount of weight it is a reason to be concerned, as your cat’s body mass index greatly affects the functions of the body. Cats lose weight for a variety of reasons, and may be related to anorexia, or refusal to eat. Infestation of internal parasites, stress, anxiety, depression, a change in food and even moving to a new home can cause a feline to stop eating, leading to a dramatic decrease in body weight. Nevertheless, any cat that is losing more than 10% total body weight should be thoroughly examined by a veterinarian, especially if it is consuming food and still dropping pounds.

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Weight Loss and Chronic Disease Average Cost

From 430 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Weight Loss and Chronic Disease in Cats

Weight loss is fairly easy to note in felines due to their petite stature. You may notice the hip bones, spine, and shoulder blades are now more prominent in your cat after losing weight. The skin may be loose and look a size too big for the body. Your feline’s fur might appear dull, brittle and may even fall out. Additional symptoms may also be noted depending on which chronic disease is causing the weight loss in the feline. 

Weight loss caused by chronic disease in cats can result in additional symptoms: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting 
  • Muscle wasting
  • Hair loss
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes) 
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia) 
  • Dehydration 
  • Depression 
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Causes of Weight Loss and Chronic Disease in Cats

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is the term used when referring to a group of chronic gastrointestinal disorders, not just one single disease. However, the common denominator for each of these IBD conditions is that they are all caused by an infiltration of inflammatory cells, resulting in a thickened intestinal wall. The thick wall prevents the gastrointestinal tract from functioning properly, resulting in poor appetite, anorexia and, of course, weight loss. 

Gallbladder Disease

Gallbladder disease refers to a group of diseases with the common denominator being the gallbladder organ. Disease of the gallbladder could be gallbladder failure, gallbladder stones, gallbladder infection or cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation). 

Liver Disease

Liver disease is known as hepatic lipidosis, or commonly known as fatty liver disease. Hepatic lipidosis is commonly found in starving cats, or those that refuse to eat, resulting in a low functioning organ. 

Pancreatic Disease

Pancreatic disease is a broad term used to describe an improperly functioning pancreas. However, pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas and is a somewhat common exocrine pancreatic disease found in felines.  

Hyperthyroidism 

Hyperthyroidism is the term used for when the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone than is needed in the body. 

Addison’s Disease 

Addison’s disease, or hypoadrenocorticism, is the term used to define an inadequate production of adrenal gland corticoids, aldosterone and cortisol. 

Diabetes 

Diabetes is the inability to produce insulin, the hormone used to balance the body’s glucose levels. 

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Diagnosis of Weight Loss and Chronic Disease in Cats

Weight loss can be caused by so many ailments, it’s important for you to know your cat. Any information that you can provide the veterinarian can help in the diagnostic process. Important answers to questions you should know in a weight loss case are primarily eating habits, energy levels and any recent injuries the cat might have sustained. 

After the veterinarian has discussed your feline’s recent behavior, eating habits and medical history, he or she is likely to conduct the following diagnostic exams: 

  • Physical examination 
  • Complete blood cell count (CBC)
  • Biochemistry profile: A biochemistry profile measures the components of blood, providing an overview of most bodily functions. It will determine the feline’s electrolyte levels, glucose levels, blood proteins, as well as the pancreatic, liver and kidney functions. 
  • Urinalysis: A urinalysis will determine the feline’s hydration status and kidney function. 
  • Fecal sample test
  • Abdominal ultrasound 
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Treatment of Weight Loss and Chronic Disease in Cats

Treating weight loss associated with chronic disease depends on which disease the feline is affected by. Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate treatment protocol for your cat’s specific condition. The veterinarian may recommend treating symptoms to encourage the feline to eat. Cats in a severe state may be hospitalized to receive intravenous fluids, medications and professional care. Your veterinarian may recommend the placement of what is commonly referred to as a “feeding tube” to provide the feline with nutrients. Types of feeding tubes include: 

  • Naso-gastric or Naso-esophageal tube (nasal tube)
  • Esophagostomy tube (esophageal tube) 
  • Gastrostomy tube (stomach tube) 
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Recovery of Weight Loss and Chronic Disease in Cats

A cat with weight loss and chronic disease can have a complete recovery with proper treatment and continuous monitoring. Weigh-ins and follow-ups are expected frequently. Follow your veterinarian’s treatment recommendation to the T. If you do not notice a change in your cat’s condition within the estimated time frame set by the veterinarian, contact him or her immediately. 

Weight loss can be symptomatic of a chronic disease. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

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Weight Loss and Chronic Disease Average Cost

From 430 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,000

Average Cost

$800

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Weight Loss and Chronic Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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American shorthair

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Fourteen Years

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Unknown severity

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9 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting Diarrhea

Cat chronic diarrhea and vomiting labs good weighs 7.4 lbs

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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9 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Possible causes for what you are describing might be a food intolerance or allergy, or intestinal disease. Your cat may need further testing, x-rays or ultrasound, or a limited antigen diet. Those are all things that you can talk about with your veterinarian, as they can help figure out what is going on with your cat. I hope that all goes well.

Oct. 4, 2020

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dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

12+

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Unknown severity

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8 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Extreme Weight Loss, Diarrhea, Vomiting

I know he is old, but he seems so happy. He meets me at the door, he sleeps next to me, he meows for food when I am eating, he eats his food both dry and vet, drinks plenty of water, sleeps. He has never been one to play, but today he threw up and he was going at it so hard when he was gagging he pooped liquid. When I was washing him off his back legs were just limp. Now he is lying next to me under his blanket and is just staring off into space. I am heading home next weekend and have an appointment with the vet, but I am so afraid he won’t make it until then. :( What’s wrong?

July 17, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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8 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for reaching out. I agree that your cats symptoms are worrisome. I do think it would be a good idea to take him to a veterinarian today in your new location or to a veterinary ER to be evaluated. I understand that he is likely dehydrated and weak from the chronic diarrhea and now vomiting. Your veterinarian can perform blood work to assess the underlying cause. In geriatric cats it could be something such as hyperthyroidism or organ dysfunction or even more commonly inflammatory bowel disease or potentially G.I. lymphoma. Please bring a stool sample with you to be checked. I hope he feels better soon.

July 17, 2020

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Weight Loss and Chronic Disease Average Cost

From 430 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,000

Average Cost

$800

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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