What to Feed An Older Cat That’s Losing Weight

Unexplained weight-loss in felines can be a big cause of concern for owners.

As we shall see, there are numerous health issues that may cause it.

Hopefully though, you‘ve spoken to your vet who’s satisfied that your cat’s weight-loss isn’t symptomatic of a serious condition.

Should this be the case, it’s time to consider what to feed your older cat that’s losing weight. Let’s begin by looking at the cat food.

Cat Food with High Calories

The best food for an older cat that’s losing weight should be high in protein, have a moderate amount of carbohydrates and be high in calories as well.

Look for formulas that are digestible as well – this is especially important for slowing metabolisms.

Your vet will be able to advise you about specific brands that you could try.

Kitten Food

Although not usually recommended for older cats, kitten food may be an option for a senior feline that’s losing weight. It’s calorie-dense and may be suitable in situations where your pet has appetite problems.

Wet Food

Wet cat food contains more water than dry cat food, which provides older cats with hydration that they may not get enough of on their own.

The texture is also easier to chew and digest for aging teeth and jaws.

Wet cat food also provides more protein than dry cat food, which is important for older cats that are less active and need a higher protein diet to maintain muscle mass.

Old Cat

Special Food for Senior Cats

Leading pet food specialists such as companies like Chewy offer food aimed specifically at older cats.

Meowing Heads for example, offers dry and wet food for senior felines.

Although not cheap, the food features enriched recipes that aid with digestion and do not contain additives or artificial flavours.

Diet Supplements

For older cats, the nutrients in dry food or wet food aren’t always enough to ensure they maintain a healthy weight.

This is why some pet owners choose to give their cats supplements in addition to their regular diet.

A cat diet supplement is a food additive that usually comes in gel form and should be mixed with a cat’s regular food.

They can really help cats to put the pounds on when they are underweight.

Some supplements also contain added vitamins and minerals that may not be present in the cat’s regular diet, which can help with digestion.

Appetite Stimulants

Regardless of age, a cat’s natural tendency is to be picky with their food. As already mentioned cats may avoid eating when they are sick, stressed, or feeling pain from a dental issue.

Consider adding natural appetite stimulants to your cat’s food to solve loss of appetite such as salmon oil, tuna juice and yoghurt. You could also consider warming the food slightly.

Smaller and More Frequent Portions

Try to feed your cat smaller meals at room temperature.

This will make the digestion process easier for your elder feline. Heating the food will also help your pet smell and taste the food better.

Where to Buy Specialist Cat Food


Ultimate Pet Nutrition

Zesty Pets

What Else You Can Do

As well as the above pointers, there are a few additional methods you can take to ensure that your cat is getting the right amount of nutrition each day.

Keep an Eye on Rival Felines

Older cats may have difficulty accessing its food due to rival felines or other house pets such as dogs.

If you’re an owner of multiple pets, quietly observe their habits during meal time.

It may be that your older cat is being intimidated by a rival pet and has become lower on the pecking order.

So if necessary, place your older cat’s food away from other pets so that he‘s able to eat without hindrance.

Make the Food Accessible

Food bowl accessibility may have to be reconsidered too.

It might be that your cat, in its younger years, preferred eating in a specific area such as on a window sill, table, or another high-up surface that provided it with a sense of safety and protection.

And as most owners will attest, trying to accommodate a cat can result in some rather unique arrangements.

If this is the case with you, consider changing the feeding bowl location so that your senior cat has easier access to his food.

The floor is obviously going to be the best option here, especially for cats that find climbing or jumping a little bit too taxing!


There’s nothing quite like a spot of exercise to stir the appetite, not to mention the metabolism.

So try to encourage your older cat to go outside and exercise if at all possible.

Remaining active will help with muscle mass and may also encourage him to eat more to compensate for the burned calories.

Why is Your Older Cat Losing Weight?

Although weight-loss is relatively common among senior cats, it’s very important to identify the causes and consult your vet if you suspect something serious.

There are lots of potential reasons, many of which aren’t life threatening.

These can range from underlying medical conditions to changes in a cat’s environment or routine.

Before you even consider some of the causes, not to mention the kind of food to feed an older cat that’s losing weight, be sure to check that your pet is actually eating.

Granted, keeping track of what your cat eats each day isn’t always easy, particularly if you’re the owner of multiple pets.

Should you notice that your cat has not being eating for 2 – 3 days, consult your vet straightaway.

If you’re satisfied that he’s eating normally, then the following causes might be worth considering.

For all of them, you should contact your vet.

Muscle Wastage

Keep in mind that senior cats tend to exercise a lot less, preferring instead to laze about. Thus, their appetites may be affected by the fact that they don‘t need as much energy.

And because they don‘t spend as much time hunting, playing or climbing, their muscles are used less. This can potentially lead to wastage.

Cat Teeth

Tooth/Gum Problems

Alas, cats don’t enjoy the same kind of dental care that most of us take for granted. This means their teeth usually degrade more dramatically as they get older.

A build-up of tartar, gum disease, and tooth decay are very common problems.

These often result in inflamed gums and tooth-ache which can make it painful to eat.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is known to cause loss of appetite as is chronic kidney disease which is quite common in older felines.

Due to poor appetite, weight-loss can become a big problem.

If you cat exhibits any of these symptoms, call your vet to discuss.


Hyperthyroidism is a common condition in older cats that’s caused by an overactive thyroid gland which produces too many hormones.

Despite increasing appetite, the ailment often results in weight-loss, because the excess thyroid hormones burn calories more quickly.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Weight-loss is also a symptom of inflammatory bowel disease – a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestine that can affect cats.

This is often accompanied by other symptoms including diarrhoea, weight loss and vomiting. The symptoms may worsen if the cat does not consume enough fluids.

Cats with IBD may also have a poor coat condition and painful or swollen joints.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Your cat may be suffering from a gastrointestinal problem that’s causing lack of appetite and loss of weight.

While this could include the aforementioned inflammatory bowel disease, there could also be less serious conditions such as an infection or food allergy.



Parasitic infections such as worms are known to cause lack of appetite and weight loss in cats. Symptoms are not always that obvious so look out for things like diarrhoea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and bloating.

Psychological Stress

Cats are known to be very sensitive creatures and can be stressed by a number of factors. These include environmental changes such as moving house, the loss of a companion animal/human family member and, conversely the introduction of a new pet or human inhabitant.

Changes of routine and diet might also cause stress. Loss of appetite is one of the symptoms of stress in cats which could potentially lead to weight loss.

Video – How to Encourage Senior Cats to Eat


Hopefully, the above guide will have provided you with some insight into what to feed your older cat that’s losing weight. Keep in mind the importance of contacting your vet if you suspect your cat is losing weight and you’re not sure why.

Useful Links

VCA Hospitals – Feeding Mature, Senior and Geriatric Cats

Purina – Feeding Your Senior Cat

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