Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Weight loss

Contributor(s): David Godfrey


  • A very common presentation.
  • Acute weight loss occurs due to dehydration.
  • Chronic weight loss occurs due to inadequate energy intake for the energy expenditure.
  • Inadequate energy intake may be due to a poor diet, a poor appetite or poor intestinal uptake.
  • Increased energy expenditure may occur due to increased physiological demands (increased activity, pregnancy, lactation) or due to disease (increased general metabolism or neoplasia).
    Follow the diagnostic tree for the investigation of weight loss in cats Weight loss in cats.



  • Disease of any body system can lead to weight loss.
  • Any class of disease (neoplastic, inflammatory, toxic, metabolic, idiopathic, etc) can cause weight loss.
  • Noticeable weight loss usually suggests some chronicity but if the cat is completely anorectic weight loss will occur from the first day.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Baez J L, Hendrick M J, Walker L M et al (1999) Radiographic, ultrasonographic, and endoscopic findings in cats with inflammatory bowel disease of the stomach and small intestine - 33 cases (1990-1997)​. JAVMA 215 (3), 349-354 PubMed.
  • Nelson R W, Griffey S M, Feldman E C et al (1999) Transient clinical diabetes mellitus in cats - 10 cases (1989-1991). J Vet Intern Med 13 (1), 28-35 PubMed.
  • Steiner J M, Williams D A (1999) Feline exocrine pancreatic disorders. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 29 (2), 551-575 PubMed.
  • Fettman M J, Stanton C A, Banks L L et al (1998) Effects of weight gain and loss on metabolic rate, glucose tolerance, and serum lipids in domestic cats. Res Vet Sci 64 (1), 11-16 PubMed.
  • Biourge V, Nelson R W, Feldman E C et al (1997) Effect of weight gain and subsequent weight loss on glucose tolerance and insulin response in healthy cats. J Vet Intern Med 11 (2), 86-91 PubMed.
  • Dimski D S (1997) Feline hepatic lipidosis. Semin Vet Med Surg 12 (1), 28-33 PubMed.
  • Hartke J R, Hayes K A, Buffington C A et al (1995) Acute feline leukemia virus infection causes altered energy balance and growth inhibition in weanling cats. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol (1), 11-19 PubMed.
  • Mahony O M, Moore A S, Cotter S M et al (1995) Alimentary lymphoma in cats - 28 cases (1988-1993). JAVMA 207 (12), 1593-1598 PubMed.
  • Thoday K L, Mooney C T (1992) Historical, clinical and laboratory features of 126 hyperthyroid cats. Vet Rec 131 (12), 257-264 PubMed.
  • Friend S C, Birch C J, Lording P M et al (1990) Feline immunodeficiency virus - prevalence, disease associations and isolation. Aust Vet J 67 (7), 237-243 PubMed.