Weight Loss and Chronic Disease Average Cost

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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 with most due 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.

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 will 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 

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. 

Pancreas Disease

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


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

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 

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) 

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 and Chronic Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Mixed breed
17 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

Our 17 year old has always been on the petite side, but she's recently started to lose more weight and her hips and bones can be felt easily. She still has an excellent appetite but has been experiencing loose stool and diarrhea on and off for the past week. Urination and water consumption and energy levels all are the same. She currently eats 2 cans of wet food a day but cant seem to put on weight and we feel at our wits end trying to help her.

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15 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

see above

Medication Used

Felimazole 2.5 my 1x/day

Our 15 year female ragdoll has been losing weight for the last 2+ years. She eats what should be plenty and is fed whenever she asks, often up to 4-5 times daily, and always has dry food available. She is a finicky wet food eater but I keep multiple choices available and have meat baby food as a last resort. She only has diarrhea very occasionally, and her frequent vomiting stopped when I took her off food with grains 6 months ago. I used to fight to keep her under 13 pounds and she is now down to 8.1 pounds, with a 1/2 pound loss in the last 5 months. She drinks water at a normal rate and it is kept fresh and monitored. She is hyper thyroid, but it is under control with medication. (A higher does causes side effects and the once a day prescription keeps her numbers normal. She is not a candidate for the radioactive iodine therapy as her numbers are under control with the medication.) Her senior bloodwork panel in 1/2019 was very good, including liver numbers, and a newer test that looks for early kidney disease was negative. Recent, 1/2019, x-rays and an ultrasound also found no problems. Her behavior is normal - she still plays, grooms herself as she always has, loves to explore the backyard daily, sits on our laps, loves to eat meat from our dinners. Our vet is at a loss as to why this is continuing. Any suggestions for possible causes or further testing would be greatly appreciated.

Please consider getting your cat’s thyroid irradiated. I’m in rescue and have dealt with multiple hyperthyroid cats and they all pass within a couple years of starting the medicine for hyperthyroidism because it is so very hard on their kidneys. Additionally, even if their thyroid numbers appear to be in range, they can still be having subclinical signs of the disease. Irradiating the thyroid costs about 1k depending on where you’re located and if your cat lives for 2 years past it’s diagnosis, you will practically be spending that in medication anyway.

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Not sure
9 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


My cat has always been a healthy eater.
But lately she hasn't been eating much. I'm not exactly sure how long this has been going on, I only just noticed the weight loss. We give her an automatic feeder because she likes to isolate herself a lot, so she keeps odd hours and eats whenever she wants to. I noticed that she wasn't eating as much as she used too, but considering it's getting hot now, I thought nothing of it. When it gets hot, she doesn't eat much. Now, she loves to stay in the basement and only comes upstairs for food and water, and the occasional affection. (She doesn't like much attention and stays away from people. When she wants love she'll always come ask for it). But I realized I hadn't seen her in a couple days, so u went to check on her, she was super skinny. Her spine wasn't protruding, but you could definitely feel it more than usual.
She is a somewhat large cat, I think. Weighs about 10-15lbs but that depends on the time of year. So like I said, when it starts getting hot she's a lot skinnier, but this was too skinny. I tried to bring her to eat, and she ate a lil bit if dry food (I tried her with 2 different ones just in case it was the food she didn't like. She ate a little bit if both) I also gave her wet food, and she ate all of it. So what she at that moment would've been about what she would normally eat for her regular appetite. I don't know if I should take her to the vet right away or just keep monitoring her for a couple of days. Also, she had a touch of diarrhea. It was only for a day though, I haven't noticed anything else.

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Grey striped tabby
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

see above

My four year old male, neutered cat has lack of or no appetite for two weeks, weight loss, dull fur, vomits small amounts of yellow liquid one to three times a day and is isolating himself. We’ve tried Vaseline, 2.5 mg Pepsid and chamomile and peppermint tea. He is not getting better.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
If this problem has been going on for 2 weeks and is not improving, Yoda needs to see a veterinarian. He may have an intestinal blockage or a systemic disease, and he'll need to be examined to determine what might be going on with him and how best to treat him. I hope that he is okay.

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Japanese Bobtail
10 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Low Urine Production
loosing weight
Pain When Lifted
Not Moving
Ventroflextion of the head
Low potassium
Unkempt coat

Medication Used

Clindamycin Hydrochloride

My 10 year old Japanese bobtail mix suddenly stopped eating when she’s always been a very healthy eater. She lost 1lb of weight in 12 days. She was holding her head down, seemed to not be aware or see us and was doing a weird sort of move while walking (like sort of a drag & pop with her hind feet) After seeing 6 different vets including an internal and neurological no one has any real answers. She’s been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism but it apparently does not explain her ck levels being 15,400 and after 24h on iv fluids 19,645. Her potassium is also low at 3.1.
She’s still not eating, but initially after coming home from the hospital she was purring, rubbing and talking, seemed happy to interact with us.
48 hours later and she is hiding under the bed, doesn’t want to be touched or even talked to, seems as if one of her back legs isn’t working, hasn’t gone to the litter box or voluntarily eaten (I fed her with a syringe a mix of high calorie vitamins and prescription food mixed with kitten milk supplement). She’s being treated empirically for toxoplasmosis, since they believe this is the likely culprit. She is strictly indoor only! I’ve had her since she was 9m old, she was a stray I adopted. She had upper respiratory when I adopted her, but beyond that she’s never had any issues. Her ultrasound says “largely unremarkable with fluid and ingests noted distal to the stomach”

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Eileen, thank you for contacting us about Boop - I'm sorry that she is having so many troubles. Without examining her, it is difficult to comment on what might be going on with her, but it sounds like you have consulted with experts in her care. The best thing for her would be for you to follow up with your veterinarian, as they know the full details of her case and are the best people to give her continued care. You should continue to feed her with the syringed food until she starts eating again, as that is a dramatic weight loss in 12 days. I sincerely hope that your veterinary team is able to arrive at a diagnosis, or make her feel better and start eating in the meantime. I don't know what medications she is on, but there is an appetite stimulant, Mirtazapine, that may help - you would need to talk to your veterinarian about adding that to her treatment plan.

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Not sure
13 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

My cat is losing weight and I have been told she may have mammary cancer. She has not been given any medication and I have not received an actual diagnosis. She is eating but always seems to want more food from my plate and not her food. She is also vomiting up lots of hairball with a yellow liquid. She also had gotten into the garbage and has taken raw meat from the counter. Could she have gotten sick from this or could it be she actually has cancer? What can I do for her?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
If Suzie has mammary cancer, it would be evident on a physical examination of the mammary glands; eating from the rubbish bin or consuming raw or spoiled meat may cause some gastrointestinal symptoms or even an obstruction or she ate a non food item. Without examining Suzie, I cannot tell you with any certainty what the underlying cause is but you should speak with your Veterinarian about the loss of appetite, try giving her a hairball remedy and trying her with a different more appetising food. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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