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How To Help A Cat Gain Weight

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Feeding your cat more frequently or serving larger food portions can help them gain weight.
  • Consider switching to foods with higher calories, proteins, and healthy fats, and try a canned or wet diet for extra calories and taste.
  • Heating up your cat's food can increase their appetite and encourage them to eat more.
  • Make sure your cat's nutritional needs are being met by choosing high-quality, easily digestible foods.
  • Providing a safe and quiet eating space, offering treats, and consulting with a vet can also help with weight gain.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Licensed veterinarian and animal behaviorist with over three years of experience and a Ph.D. in Poultry Science.
Published on
Sunday 24 December 2023
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
How To Help A Cat Gain Weight
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So, you’ve noticed your feline friend is underweight, and you’re wondering how to help your cat pack some pounds safely. But let’s be honest: helping your cat gain weight can be challenging as it requires a lot of dedication and patience.

In this guide, we’ll explore practical and effective ways to help your cat gain weight and thrive. Let’s dive in. 

7 Ways to Help a Cat Gain Weight

The easiest and simplest way to help a cat gain weight is by feeding it more. Either feed your cat more frequently or serve it with larger food portions. Also, consider switching to foods with higher calories, proteins, and healthy fats. You can also consider a canned or wet diet as it usually contains more calories and is tastier for cats. 

If your cat doesn’t like cat food right away, try adding some water or low-sodium chicken broth to make it more appealing. You can also try warming the food before serving it to your cat. Moreover, adding high-calorie and protein supplements to your cat’s diet can help restore its weight. 

If you’re unsure what to feed your cat to help it gain weight, consider visiting a vet. The vet will suggest a diet plan and give you an idea of what to feed your cat and how much. Generally speaking, the goal of a diet plan for weight gain is to choose healthy high-calorie food options for your cat. 

Below, we’ll dive deep into some effective ways to help increase your cat’s weight:

Choose the Right Type of Food

Choosing the right type of food is important to help your cat put on some weight. We recommend serving high-calorie food to your cat so it can gain weight without eating more food than usual. These foods are mostly called “high calorie” or “high energy” foods. 

Foods with more protein are also preferable to help your cat build muscles and gain weight. Meat is an important food with high protein content. Lastly, feed your feline food that is high in healthy fats for gaining weight quickly. 

Heat Up Their Food to Increase Appetite

A research paper published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior in 2022 reveals that warm food helps promote food consumption in cats. As a result, heating up food can help encourage your cat to eat more, leading to more weight gain. According to the National Park Service, domestic cats are predators and hunters, so they prefer their food to be slightly above body temperature (38.5°C or 101.5°F). When food is too cold, it can be unappetizing for them and can lead to a reduced appetite. 

Moreover, heating wet or canned food can make it more appealing and delicious to your cat. Additionally, warm food can also help stimulate your cat’s appetite and encourage it to eat more. It’s particularly helpful for cats who are picky eaters or have a decreased appetite due to illness.

Ensure That Their Nutritional Needs Are Met

When helping your cat gain weight, it’s important to ensure it’s still getting all the necessary nutrients it needs to stay healthy. For that, choose a high-quality cat food specifically formulated for weight gain and made with fine ingredients. Also, offer a variety of food to your cat to fulfill its nutritional needs. 

That said, be careful not to feed your cat with fillers like corn and soy, as they provide little nutritional value and are hard to digest. Also, prefer easy-to-digest diets so your cat can absorb more nutrients to help it pack some pounds. 

Provide a Supplement

You can also provide your cat with supplements to ensure it’s getting all the necessary nutrients. These include probiotics, digestive enzymes, and vitamin supplements. 

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that improve your cat’s digestive health to help it properly absorb nutrients in food and gain weight. Digestive enzymes help your cat break down nutrients into pieces to absorb them more effectively. Lastly, vitamin supplements help fulfill your cat’s vitamin and mineral needs to help it maintain good health. 

Provide a Safe and Quiet Space

A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery showed that under stress, cats have a reduced appetite. Providing your cat with a safe and quiet eating space can help it relax and reduce its stress levels, so it’s more comfortable when eating. It’s preferable to feed your cat in a quiet location, like a spare room or a quiet corner. 

Give Some Treats

Treats are another great way to provide your cat with additional calories and nutrients. But be careful to choose good-quality treats with appropriate calories and nutrients. Also, go for treats that are specifically designed for weight gain. Moreover, don’t use treats to replace your cat’s regular meals, but as supplements to its diet. 

Talk to Your Vet 

Cats can lose appetite and weight for various reasons, including underlying medical issues like dental problems, kidney disease, or cancer. If your cat has become underweight, it’s worth visiting a vet. The vet can thoroughly examine the cat and see if there are any underlying medical issues causing weight loss in your cat. They can also help develop a personalized action plan to help your cat gain weight.

Why Do Cats Lose Weight?

Cats lose weight for several reasons, which particularly include eating less. If your cat is disturbed or stressed, it may start eating less than usual, resulting in weight loss. Other pets at home can cause your cat to eat less by eating its food or keeping it from accessing the food bowl. 

Also, if you’ve recently switched to a different food type or brand, it may be the reason your cat is eating less. Different brands have varying caloric content and amount of nutrients in their food. Either wait and see if your cat adjusts to the new food or revert to its old food to help it gain weight. 

Moreover, according to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, cats with osteoarthritis have reduced food intake. If you struggle to determine why your cat is eating less, a visit to the vet may be due. 

Other than that, many medical conditions and diseases can lead to weight loss in cats, including hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, and diabetes. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland overproduces thyroid hormone, resulting in appetite and weight loss. 

According to a 2015 research paper, feline diabetes also causes weight loss in cats. Feline kidney disease cats suffer from weight loss, too, along with dehydration, fever, lower back pain, and foul breath. If your cat shows any of these symptoms besides weight loss, visit a vet to examine it medically and suggest a treatment if needed. 

Lastly, intestinal parasites are also a common reason for weight loss in cats. According to Cornell Feline Health Center, its prevalence rates are as high as 45% in some communities.  Cats can get parasites through various sources, such as hunting and eating prey and walking through contaminated areas. Parasites in a cat eat its food, so your cat stays skinny despite eating enough. 

How To Help A Cat Gain Weight: FAQs

Below we’ll answer the most searched questions regarding how to help your cat gain weight:

What can I feed my cat to help gain weight?

It’s worth feeding your cat canned food to help it gain weight. Generally speaking, canned food is made of meat and contains extra moisture to keep your cat hydrated and full. Moreover, if your cat doesn’t eat enough, try hand-feeding it to encourage it to eat more. Also, try different cat foods and stick to the ones your cat likes. 

Is my cat too skinny if I can feel her spine?

If you can feel your cat’s spine, it doesn’t mean the cat is too skinny. But if its ribs, spine, and hip bones stick out, your cat is likely underweight, and you should help it gain weight. Either way, it’s worth visiting a vet and asking them to advise you on what to feed your cat to help it regain its weight. 

Why is my cat so skinny but eats?

If your cat eats enough but is still skinny, it may have hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a common disease among cats and indicates excessive thyroid hormone production in the thyroid gland. Besides weight loss, other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include hand tremors and rapid or irregular heartbeat. 

Will tuna help my cat gain weight?

Tuna surely helps your cat gain weight, but it shouldn’t be a major part of your cat’s diet to avoid side effects. It’s not considered a nutritionally balanced diet as it lacks important nutrients cats need for normal functioning, like fiber and carbohydrates. So, you can feed your cat tuna for weight gain but don’t forget other nutritious cat foods to help it maintain good health. 

Will rice help cats gain weight?

Rice can help your cat gain weight quickly as it is rich in carbohydrates. While more carbs help with weight gain, they can also lead to diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart problems. So, it’s recommended to feed your cat rice with some checks and balances. 

The most effective way to help your cat gain weight is by feeding it more food. Also, try using high-calorie supplements, feeding wet food, and adding some high-quality protein to your cat’s diet. Whatever you do, ensure your cat gets a balanced and complete diet. Plus, monitor its progress closely to help it achieve a healthy weight and maintain its overall well-being.

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