For many pet parents, having their pet lose weight is an important goal. Having a cat be overweight isn't healthy, and can increase its risk of developing certain health problems later in life. However, if your cat is losing weight on its own without any intervention from you, that may indicate that there's a problem. Here's what you should know about your cat losing weight.
When Weight Loss Is Natural
Weight loss can happen to a cat naturally without any reason for concern, but these are usually restricted to certain scenarios. For example, if your cat is getting more exercise by going outside, having a new cat tree to climb, or simply being played with more often, they're likely to gain muscle and lose fat as a result. This isn't a bad thing at all. Alternatively, your cat may lose weight because they're growing older. While excessive weight loss in old age is something to worry about, most cats end up losing some weight as they reach their elder years.
When It's Something to Be Concerned About
However, not all weight loss is necessarily healthy or normal. For example, if your cat seems to be losing weight quickly, that's a bad sign, regardless of the reason why it's happening. Losing weight fast can potentially trigger fatty liver disease in cats, which can put their health at risk.
Another possible problem is when your cat loses weight without any apparent change to their diet, exercise level, or reaching old age. Some diseases, like hyperthyroidism, can effectively turn up the metabolism, causing your cat's body to burn more calories than it can take in. As a result, they're losing weight. While this wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if it was the only impact on an overweight cat, hyperthyroidism causes a lot of other health problems, too, and shouldn't be ignored.
Thankfully, your vet can get to the bottom of any unexpected weight loss relatively easily. A blood test and physical exam will reveal most of the potential triggers for sudden weight loss and will give your vet an idea of what they need to do in order to treat it. In cases like hyperthyroidism, simple medication and regular screenings can control the condition and return your cat to a healthy condition. Other conditions that can cause weight loss, like tapeworms, can also be stopped with medication, so your pet is likely to be feeling better right after they get treatment.
The most important thing is that you don't put off getting help. If your cat loses enough weight, it can put their overall health at risk. For more information, contact an animal hospital.