How to Treat a Malnourished Cat: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Treat a Malnourished Cat: 15 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Treat a Malnourished Cat: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

Malnutrition often occurs in stray cats that don't have someone to look after them. However, this condition can also occur in domestic cats if they don't eat enough or if they get the wrong kind of food. If your cat's appearance is worrying and he appears malnourished, your help will be needed to help him get better.


Part 1 of 3: Monitoring Cat Health and Nutrition

Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 1

Step 1. Recognize the signs of malnutrition

Although cats know how to hide that they are sick in most cases, your feline probably won't be able to hide the malnutrition. Some signs of malnutrition include dry, flaky skin, muscle weakness, and soft or hard stools. The cat may also stop cleaning itself, become lethargic, and lose excessive weight.

Malnutrition can also manifest neurological signs. For example, vitamin B1 deficiency can cause the cat to tilt its head, show lack of coordination, and even have seizures

Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 2

Step 2. Take the cat to the vet

Malnutrition is a serious illness in cats, which eventually leads to other serious medical problems. If your cat shows signs of malnutrition, take him to the vet. The veterinarian will perform a physical examination of the animal, among other diagnostic tests such as blood tests and urine tests, which will determine the severity of the malnutrition.

  • Diagnostic test results will also reveal whether the cat is suffering from malnutrition-related illnesses such as hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease).
  • After the exam, the veterinarian will provide a treatment plan.
  • Be aware that the veterinarian may recommend hospitalization of the animal in severe cases of malnutrition.
  • Your veterinarian may recommend dietary supplements such as vitamin B12 injections.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 3

Step 3. Weigh the cat regularly

Weigh the animal on a weekly basis to see if it is gaining weight.

  • To weigh the cat, get on the scale while holding the pussy and note the weight.
  • Release the cat and climb on the scale again, noting the weight then.
  • Subtract the biggest weight (yours and the cat) by the smaller weight (without the cat) to find the feline's weight.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 4

Step 4. Eliminate the worms

Worms can cause weight loss, among other serious problems. When taking the pussy to the vet to treat malnutrition, also ask the provider if there is a need for worm treatment. Your veterinarian may request a stool sample from your cat to determine if your pet has this problem.

  • Newborn cats need to receive treatment for worms from the first two weeks of life and continue to receive such treatment every two weeks until they reach eight weeks of age.
  • Cats over eight weeks old need to receive this type of treatment every month until they reach six months of age.
  • Cats over six months of age need to receive this type of treatment every one to three months.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 5

Step 5. Observe the cat's teeth

Dental problems can also interfere with the ability to chew food, so it might be a good idea to check your malnourished cat for such complications. If you notice this type of problem, take him to the vet. Some signs to consider include:

  • Put your paw to your mouth.
  • Bleeding from the mouth.
  • Bad breath.
  • Excessive salivation.
  • Sudden reactions or moans of pain when having the mouth touched.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 6

Step 6. Make sure the cat has easy access to the food pots

Older cats may have difficulty accessing food pots that are in inconvenient locations such as the basement or a counter. Make sure the cat's food and water pots are in a place that the cat can easily access.

You can even place the pots on both floors of the house

Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 7

Step 7. Watch for signs of aggression among cats

Some cats may begin to want to protect their food, causing them to chase away other felines in the area. Check that the other cats in the house are not being aggressive against the malnourished cat. If so, it may be necessary to provide a separate space for the malnourished cat to eat in peace.

  • For example, you can feed the malnourished cat in your room with the door closed so that other cats cannot disturb you.
  • Another option is to place additional food jars in different places in the house.

Part 2 of 3: Changing the Malnourished Cat's Feed

Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 8

Step 1. Select a marketed liquid ration

This applies if your cat is being fed homemade food. Your intention in providing your cat with homemade food may be good, but this type of diet may not contain the necessary vitamins and minerals for the animal. Also, if you use vegetable oil to cook food, the cat may refuse the food - cats generally don't like vegetable oil.

  • Refusal of prepared food can be the reason for the cat's malnutrition.
  • Commercial pet foods contain the proper amount of essential vitamins and minerals, so they are a good choice for the cat.
  • If you decide to continue offering home-cooked cat food, consult a veterinarian doctor or nutritionist. These specialists will be able to formulate appropriate recipes to combat the cat's nutritional deficiencies.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 9

Step 2. Offer your cat a meat diet

Cats are carnivorous animals, so meat is essential in their diet. Meat contains protein and vitamin A, which are necessary for the animal's health. Commercial liquid pet foods are a good source of meat for the cat.

  • No matter how vegan or vegetarian you are, your cat will have health problems if he follows the same type of diet. In addition to being deficient in protein and vitamin A, the cat can also become deficient in a nutrient called taurine, at risks such as tooth decay and heart failure.
  • Vegetarian or vegan diets for cats do not provide nutrients such as calcium and vitamin E.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 10

Step 3. Decrease fish and liver consumption

Cats love liver and fish, but these two foods are not necessarily healthy for the animal. If your cat eats too much of these foods, it can develop a thiamine deficiency. Excessive consumption of liver can cause vitamin toxicity.

  • Fish contain enzymes called thiaminase, which break down thiamine, which can result in a deficiency of this important nutrient.
  • If fish and liver are foods that your cat eats a lot, try to limit such consumption, offering these foods only as occasional snacks.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 11

Step 4. Reduce the amount of tuna consumed by the animal

Tuna is another food loved by cats. Unfortunately, excessive consumption of this food can cause vitamin E deficiency, which can eventually malnourish the animal. Vitamin E deficiency can cause a condition called steatitis ("yellow fat disease").

  • Limit the cat's tuna consumption by offering the food only as an occasional snack.
  • If your cat eats tuna regularly, it is possible that it has become accustomed to the taste of the food and is not happy with the change, but reducing its tuna intake will help to get it out of the malnutrition stage.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 12

Step 5. Add food gradually

It's important to increase your cat's food intake gradually, rather than suddenly offering her unaccustomed amounts of food. If you want your cat to eat more food, try to add a little more food every time you fill his cat food jar. Otherwise, the animal may become nauseous and end up even more malnourished.

Part 3 of 3: Treating Malnutrition Related Health Problems

Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 13

Step 1. Reduce your cat's weight

If your cat has a few extra pounds, it might be a good idea to condition him to reach his ideal body weight, ie 3, 5 to 4, 5 kg. Obesity is one of the most common causes of malnutrition among cats, so your cat's extra pounds may be causing this problem.

  • The cat's weight reduction must occur gradually to avoid hepatic lipidosis.
  • Ask the veterinarian to develop a weight loss plan that includes reducing the animal's calorie intake, as well as a regimen of physical activities.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 14

Step 2. Treat the cat's hepatic lipidosis

In addition to rapid weight loss, cat malnutrition can also result in a condition called hepatic lipidosis. If your cat's nutrient deficiency persists for a long time, your cat's internal organs (especially the liver) may begin to fail. When a cat's liver stops working, it will begin to accumulate excess fat.

  • Hepatic lipidosis can start to develop even after a day or two when the animal has not been fed. Take the cat to the vet for treatment if it has not fed within 24 hours.
  • Symptoms of hepatic lipidosis include constipation, depression and yellow eyes.
  • Treatment of hepatic lipidosis mainly consists of dietary change, including the provision of protein and various other dietary supplements such as taurine and vitamin E.
  • Depending on the severity of the disease, it may be necessary to invest in intensive treatments involving force-feeding through a tube into the animal's esophagus or pharynx.
Get Your Cat Out of the Malnutrition Stage Step 15

Step 3. Treat cat diabetes

Left untreated, diabetes can cause a loss of appetite, eventually leaving the animal malnourished. If your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, follow treatment recommendations correctly to control the disease and prevent malnutrition.

Treatment for diabetes in felines typically involves insulin injections and dietary changes (eg, diets high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, as well as specific feeding times)


  • A healthy, balanced diet is the key to avoiding malnutrition.
  • If the cat is refusing to eat, it may be a good idea to use an appetite stimulant. However, appetite stimulants can cause side effects such as behavioral changes and liver toxicity. Talk to your veterinarian if you intend to offer your pet appetite stimulants.
  • Talk to your veterinarian if you are unsure what type of food to offer your cat to treat malnutrition.
  • Once your cat is past the malnutrition stage, you will notice considerable improvements in her overall health and fitness.


  • Nutritional deficiencies caused by malnutrition can make the cat ill. Take him to the vet as soon as possible if he shows signs of malnutrition
  • In some cases, feeding severely malnourished cats can lead to a condition called 'feedback syndrome', causing insulin to rise and electrolyte imbalances (potassium, phosphorus and magnesium). This syndrome can be fatal.
  • Hepatic lipidosis can be fatal to cats.

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