The reason why your cat is so small may be due to her breed, gender, or her feeding patterns. A cat may also be eating well but still, be small because of an illness like diabetes.
As a pet parent, it’s normal for you to worry if your cat is not gaining weight or is of abnormally small size and doesn’t seem to be growing as an average cat should. The normal weight of an adult cat depends on the breed. While cats weigh just a few ounces when they are kittens they grow fast and gain at least a pound each month. Most cats become full-grown once they reach one year old but some breeds like the Maine Coon can keep growing until they’re five years old.
Here are the common reasons why a cat remains small:
It may be due to a cat’s gender.
Female cats are usually smaller than male cats. Also, cats that have been spayed or neutered especially before the puberty period tend to be larger compared to cats that were fixed when they were already adults.
It may be due to the feeding pattern.
Cats should normally eat at least two meals in a day and each meal should be at least 12 hours apart but you may also schedule a cat’s meal at least thrice a day. However, there are instances when a cat’s feeding pattern is not followed especially if there are multiple cats in the household and your cat is bullied by the others. To avoid this, you should monitor your pets during mealtime to ensure that each one is eating properly.
It may be because of a cat’s breed
Some cats are small because of their breed. According to the Cat Breeds Encyclopedia, adult cats that belong to a small breed weigh less than 10 pounds. These breeds tend to keep their kitten-like physical appearance and even attitude into their adult years.
Here are the popular small cat breeds:
It’s considered one of the smallest breeds and its small size is due to a gene mutation, making its legs shorter than that of a normal cat. This breed is renowned for its pottery gait which is to land with their heels first and walk on a heel-toe action. Munchkin cats may not be able to jump high but they’re agile and active and have a kitten-like personality. The breed’s name was culled from the magical folk in the film the Wizard of Oz.
This cat breed is just half the size of an average cat and usually weigh no more than 5 pounds as adults. Their bodies are petite but they’re very active and great climbers, too. This particular breed is also affectionate and loves to snuggle and cuddle on its owner’s lap.
3. Devon Rex
This cat breed only weighs around 5 to 10 pounds and aside from their small stature, they have big ears, large and round eyes, and super-soft coats. Devon Rex cats are very friendly, sociable, and love to be the center of attention. What sets this teacup cat breed apart from the Cornish Rex are its short whiskers.
4. American Curl
American Curl cats are known to be petite and with ears that curl backward toward the skull’s base. This breed is also famous for being affectionate and playful which makes them ideal for families with children. It’s interesting to note that at birth these cats have straight ears which will begin to curl back when they are around 10 days old.
5. Cornish Rex
This breed has a curly coat and possesses down hair that’s soft to the touch. They don’t shed much and are ideal for cat lovers who are prone to allergies. Most Siamese cats weigh around eight pounds and have long and agile toes that allow them to easily open doors and cabinets.
Siamese cats are lightweight and usually weigh just 5 pounds. They have a sleek and athletic build striking blue eyes and a glossy coat. It is known as one of the oldest cat breeds and is believed to be a descendant of Thailand’s sacred temple cats.
This cat breed is referred to as the purebred long-haired Siamese. Cats of this breed also weigh just around 5 pounds.
The Dwelf which comes from two combined words “dwarf and elf” is not yet a recognized breed. They have an alien-like appearance and combine the traits of three cat breeds. They have the short legs of the Munchkin, the Sphynx’s hairless body and the curled ears of the American Curl.
It may be due to poor nutrition
Cats may also tend to be so small because they may not be eating the right foods and lack the needed nutrients.
These are the essential nutrients that cats need:
Cats are essentially carnivores and should have their regular dose of amino acids from animal protein which helps in the development of organs, tissues, and bones. They should be fed with meats like chicken, turkey, beef, and fish which are available from various cat food brands.
Carbohydrates provide energy. Sources of carbs that should be included in a cat’s regular diet include grains like wheat and rice.
Cats also need a significant amount of good fats in the form of essential fatty acids like Omega 3 and 6 that are present in fish. According to Steve Doer, Technical Director of RedBarn Products, fats help maintain a cat’s body temperature, give energy, and help to absorb vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
Cats aren’t known to be fastidious water drinkers because they’ve been well-adapted to obtain most of the water they need from the food they eat. This characteristic is due in part to having evolved from desert cats. However, water is essential for cats because it maintains the temperature, eliminates toxins, and most importantly, distributes and metabolizes nutrients in their bodies.
Just like humans, cats need essential vitamins in the right proportions. These vitamins include Vitamin A for a strong immune system and good vision, Vitamin D or the so-called sunshine vitamin, Vitamine B1 or Thiamine which is needed for the healthy metabolism of carbohydrates, and Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin for growth and overall health.
Cats need minerals for enzyme formation, nutrient utilization, and transport of oxygen. These essential minerals include iron, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and chloride.
It could be due to a worm infestation
Your cat may also be so small and not gaining weight because of internal parasites lurking in her intestines. The common types of worms that can affect cats are hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and heartworms. Aside from weight loss, other accompanying symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, a bloated belly, constant coughing, and worm segments in the poop or in the anus. Should you observe the said symptoms you should bring your cat to the vet.
Your cat may have diabetes or hyperthyroidism
If your cat has a voracious appetite but still losing weight there is cause for concern as it could be a sign that she has an illness like diabetes or hyperthyroidism. The usual signs of diabetes in cats include an increased appetite but also rapid weight loss and excessive thirst and urination. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are quite similar to diabetes but include also have an increased appetite, pronounced weight loss, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and urination. If this is the case, your vet should be consulted at once.
It’s normal to worry if your cat seems to have stunted growth and is not gaining weight in spite of its good appetite. Your cat may be small because of various factors such as its breed or gender. However, if your cat remains small due to poor nutrition, worm infestation or an illness like diabetes, immediate medical action is needed.