Your pet cat has a good appetite, active, and healthy but you noticed that she is small and not gaining weight.
Reasons why a cat is small
The reason why your cat is so small may be due to her breed, gender, or her feeding pattern. 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 has a small size and doesn’t seem to be growing as any normal cat should be. A healthy adult cat should typically weigh around five to 20 pounds and 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.
If your pet cat is a female and you find her smaller than the other cats then it shouldn’t worry you that much. This is because 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 that a cat’s feeding pattern is not followed especially if there are multiple cats in the household and your cat may be bullied by the others. To avoid this, you should be able to monitor your pets during mealtime to ensure that each one is properly eating.
It may be because of a cat’s breed
Some cats are just normally 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 all through their adult years.
Here are the popular small cat breeds:
It’s considered as one of the smallest breeds and its small size is due to a gene mutation, making their 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 walking on a heel-toe action. Munchkin cats may not be able to do high jumps but they’re agile and active and has 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 so small and just half the size of an average cat while the adult cats usually weigh not more than 5 pounds. 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 their pet 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 coat. Devon Rex cats are very friendly, sociable, and loves to be the center of attention. What sets this teacup cat breed apart from the Cornish Rex is 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 very ideal for families with children. It’s interesting to note that at birth these cats have straight ears and will only begin to curl back when they’re around 10 days old.
5. Cornish Rex
This cat breed has a curly coat and possesses down hair that’s soft to the touch. They don’t shed much and ideal for cat lovers who are prone to allergies. Most Siamese cats weigh around 8 pounds and have long and agile toes that allow them to easily open doors and cabinets.
Siamese cats are so lightweight and usually weigh just 5 pounds and a height of just 30 cm. They have a sleek and athletic built, has striking blue eyes, and a glossy coat. This 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 and both breeds share a lot of similar traits. 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 but cats of this kind are also small. They have an alien-like appearance and combine the traits of 3 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 food and lacks the needed nutrients that a cat needs.
These are the essential nutrients that cats need to have balanced and good nutrition:
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 readily available in various cat food brands.
Cats also need a significant amount of good fats in the form of essential fatty acids like Omega 3 and 6 that’s present in fish. According to Steve Doer, Technical Director of RedBarn Products, the fats help maintain a cat’s body temperature, gives energy, and helps absorb vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
Carbohydrates provide energy which makes it one of the essential nutrients for cats. Sources of carbs that should be included in a cat’s regular diet include grains like wheat and rice.
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 and this characteristic is due in part to having been evolved from desert cats. However, water is essential for cats because it maintains the temperature, eliminates toxins, and most importantly, it distributes and metabolizes nutrients in their bodies.
Just like humans, cats need essential vitamins which should be given 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 to transport 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, 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 at once so that proper treatment will be given.
Your cat may have diabetes or hyperthyroidism
If you’re wondering why your cat has a voracious appetite but still losing weight then you should be alarmed 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 because a cat will also have an increased appetite, pronounced weight loss, diarrhea, and excessive thirst and urination. If this is the case, your vet should be consulted at once so that your cat will be given the necessary medication.
It’s normal to worry if your pet cat seems to have stunted growth and not gaining weight in spite of its good appetite and normal behavior. Your cat may be so small because of various factors such as its breed or gender but if this is the case then there’s no reason to be anxious. However, if your cat remains small due to poor nutrition, worm infestation, or an illness like diabetes then immediate medical action should be done and you must seek the help of your veterinarian so that proper treatment may be administered.