The web is full of warnings about obesity in cats and advice on what you can do if your cat is too fat. But what if you have the opposite problem? What if you need to know how to put weight on a cat? This advice can be harder to find and it may not be as straight forward as you think. Here’s our quick guide on weight gain for cats.
Why is Your Cat so Skinny?
The most important thing that you have to do is establish if your cat is really under weight and find out why that is. The first part is easy. Take your cat to your vet so that they can use professional scales to weigh them. Alternatively, you can invest in a cat carrier that has a handle on top and some digital luggage scales. Weigh your cat in the cat carrier and then deduct the weight of the carrier to obtain the weight of your cat. This will also be a useful piece of equipment to monitor your cat’s weight as you are helping them to gain pounds in the coming weeks.
The second part is not so straightforward. If you have concerns about your cat’s health you should always consult your vet and sudden, unexplained weight loss must always be investigated by a professional.
Here are some of the most common reasons that a cat can be skinny.
Poor Quality Cat Food
Your cat may be malnourished even though you are feeding them plenty of commercial cat food. Cheaper cat food can lack nutrients and may contain cheap fillers that provide no nutrition for your cat. They may simply not be getting sufficient calories and nutrients to sustain their weight.
Picky Eating Habits
Cats can be picky eaters. This can be frustrating but try to find out if there is a cause. It may be due to stress or anxiety. You could try placing their bowl in a quiet room away from the rest of the family and from other pets. You could even try another type of bowl. Try swapping a plastic bowl for one made from stainless steel or ceramic. Find out more about food bowls for cats here.
There are many illnesses that can result in weight loss and your vet will be able to advise you further on this. If your cat is eating, ask them why is my cat always hungry but skinny? A cat that is in pain or feels ill is unlikely to eat. Some illnesses that cause weight loss include diabetes, peritonitis, cancer and parasites.
How to Fatten Up a Skinny Cat
Once your vet has helped you establish the reason why your cat is so skinny, they will help you to work out a weight-gain program. Your vet will be able to calculate an ideal weight range based on your cat’s age, breed and lifestyle. They may also decide to prescribe vitamins or another type of medication. Here’s how to make a cat gain weight. For more options, check out our detailed review of the best vitamins for cats.
Increase the Quantity of Cat Food
The obvious way to start is to increase the quantity of cat food that you give to your underweight cat. However, do not just empty two containers of cat into their bowl and expect them to eat it! Cats can be very fussy eaters and will not return to the food once it has gone stale. It would be better to offer your cat many small meals during the day. By all means try a new brand of cat food but make the change gradual. Add a small amount of new food and gradually change the proportions until the meal consists entirely of the new food. Watch out for any adverse reactions.
If your cat is not eating a lot of dried food, you may want to gradually swap to a wet food diet. Some cats find it more appealing as they prefer the taste, odor and texture. For a wider selection of choices, check out our dry cat food and wet cat food guides.
Choose a Nutrient-Rich Cat Food
Not all cat foods have the same amount of nutrients per serving and some are not useful for weight gain for cats. They may fill your kitty up for a while but they do not have the essential protein and fat that is needed to help them put on weight and stay healthy. Choose the best cat food that your budget will allow as you normally get what you pay for! Cheaper cat foods are often packed with fillers which are cheap ingredients that have few nutrients.
Tickle Their Taste Buds
Make the food as appealing as you can. You may need to add flavor if your cat does not have much of an appetite. You can make their meal more appealing by adding fish oil. This also contains fat and calories so it helps with weight gain too. Salmon oil often works very well.
You can also buy gravies that are made just for cats and food toppers that add flavor or nutrients. This enhances the meal for your kitty and encourages them to eat. Protein-rich treats can be given between meals too. Don’t forget that some human food is great for cats who need to gain weight. Examples include cottage cheese, egg whites and yogurt. Take a look at our review of cat treats for more options
Try Kitten Food
Kitten food has a different nutritional profile to adult cat food and is not just useful for people who want to know how to fatten up a kitten. It works for adult cats too! Kitten food contains a higher proportion of protein and fat so it can help with weight gain. Remember it has been designed for growing kittens so it is good stuff! Buy a brand that is grain-free and has no fillers. Kitten food is a good choice for aging skinny cats because it is softer and easier to chew.
Before you Go…
The bottom line is that you must first consult your vet to check that there is no underlying condition that has caused your cat to be skinny. Once this has been done, you can work with your vet to help your cat to put on weight. With a few minor adjustments to their diet, your kitty will soon be piling on the pounds!