How to Tell if Your Cat is Too Skinny?

Cats come in all sizes.

Some cats have a long slender body while others are compact and chunky.

Better yet, there are felines with little to no hair on their bodies.

Other cats have coats that are fluffier than a Flokati rug.


With all these variations, it can get hard to notice when your cat is losing weight.

Are there tell-tale signs that make you wonder ‘’Is this cat too skinny?”

If you are puzzled with how to tell if your cat is underweight, you have come to the right place.


In this article, we are going to look at signs your cat is underweight.

We will also help you answer the question, ‘Why is my cat so skinny but eats all the time?’


Body Types for Cats

Cat body type

To check whether your cat is skinny or not, you first have to understand its body type.

All cats fall in two body types;

  • Cobby body
  • Oriental body


The Cobby build defines those cats with compact bodies and a short stout tail.

Such cats also have a dense skeletal structure and can weigh between 7 to 12 pounds.


Perfect examples of such cats are the Persian and Russian blue cats.

The oriental body defines those cats that are long and slender in form.

Their tails are long and their limbs are svelte.

They have a fine skeletal structure and weigh between 5 to 10 pounds.

Cats with oriental bodies include the Siamese and Savannah cat.


What is the ideal body weight for a cat?

You will know your cat is healthy if their body looks well-proportioned.

The cat’s waistline and ribs should look smooth and defined.

You should also feel a layer of fat on your cat’s abdomen, known as the tummy tuck, which indicates they are healthy.


Signs that your cat is too skinny?

  • An underweight cat will have visible ribs, especially for short-haired breeds. There is no layer of fat covering the bones which makes them sharp and pointy.
  • The tummy tuck appears unusually narrow. The cat’s tummy gets sucked in as body fat is lost in this area
  • The spine and hip bones are visible and protruding as the cat loses muscle in these areas.
  • The waistline looks narrower than usual.
  • The cat’s coat looks dull and dry


How to check if my cat is underweight

How to check if my cat is underweight

Fortunately, you can check if your cat is too skinny right at home.

All you need is your two hands and a willing cat.



❗ Important

This weight check is ideal for cats with long-haired coats. Ensure you perform the check while the cat is in a standing or sitting position.



To check your cat’s weight;

  • Trace your fingers along with the cat’s shoulder blades, spine, ribs, and pelvic bones. If you do not feel a soft layer of fat covering those areas, your cat is losing weight
  • If the bones feel sharp and poking, it indicates your cat has lost weight
  • Visible shoulder blades are a sign your cat is skinny as well
  • If you can distinguish between bones, say rip and hip bone, your cat is likely to be underweight


Reasons why your cat is too skinny

There are several reasons why your cat is skinny.

Common issues include;


Lack of proper nutrition

If your cat is eating a lot of food but not gaining weight, maybe they are not receiving enough nutrients in their meals.

Cats require a high protein diet to maintain a healthy body mass.

The recommended protein intake for adult cats is 50g/1000kcal ME.


Kittens require more protein intake measured at 56g/1000kcal ME.

If you are buying commercial dry cat food, always read the ingredient label.

If the protein content is below the recommended standard, your cat will have problems gaining weight.


Dental Issues

Teeth problems can affect your cat’s ability to feed properly.

Abscesses, broken or missing teeth, plaque, and cavities can affect how your cat eats.

Other teeth ailments like periodontal disease can cause your cat to lose weight too.


Schedule a dental appointment at a vet clinic to have your cat’s teeth checked.

Also, get in the habit of brushing or flossing your cat’s teeth after meals.

Dental chews for cats can help minimize plaque and cavities as well.


Feeding your cat less food

If your cat is not gaining weight, maybe he is not feeding enough.

Have a feeding schedule for him and ensure he gets enough portions per serving.


Gut issues

Gastrointestinal diseases can cause your cat to lose weight fast.

Bloating, gas, stomach pain or loss of appetite all lead to weight loss in cats.

If your cat has gut issues, they will find it hard to absorb and retain nutrients from food.



Diabetes causes your cat to eat a lot and not gain any weight.

It also affects your cat’s ability to absorb food.

Diabetes can also make your cat extremely thirsty or pee a lot.



Hyperthyroidism is a disease that causes the excessive production of thyroid hormone.

This creates a metabolic imbalance that causes symptoms such as vomiting and weight loss.

Your cat also loses appetite and pees a lot.

Hyperthyroidism is treated through medication, diet therapy, and surgery.



Stomach parasites like roundworm and tapeworm can affect your cat’s ability to absorb adequate nutrients.

Also, external parasites like ticks and fleas can cause weight loss when they continuously feed on the cat’s blood.


Video: How to Help a Cat Gain Weight

Final Word

We hope this article answers your question, ‘Why is my cat so skinny’.

Always check your cat for signs of weight loss.

Feed your cat an adequate and nutritious diet to maintain his optimal weight.

Schedule frequent visits to the vet to identify any health issues that may cause weight loss in cats.


Frequently Asked Questions

A healthy cat has bright clear eyes and a moist muzzle. The ears should be clean, odorless, and have no discharge. The coat too should look shiny and clean. Your cat should not appear overweight as well.

An average cat weighs about 10 pounds. It also depends on the breed of the cat. Giant cat breeds like the Maine Coon can weigh as much as 25 pounds when healthy.

Disease is the main cause of weight loss in old cats. Your cat may be suffering from diabetes, chronic renal disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, or hyperthyroidism. Weight loss in old cats could also be caused by dental diseases or pancreatic failure.

Cats that weight 7 to 10 pounds will require 270 to 320 calories a day to stay healthy. The calorie intake will be higher for active cats or cats with a higher body mass. A professional vet can help you calculate your cat’s weight and how much calories they need a day.

See Also


A pet owner who loves to share useful facts and information about a variety of animals.