Cats are quite talented in hiding what they feel. Often, this gives pet owners a hard time in determining whether there’s something wrong with their beloved feline friend.

The common cause of malnutrition in a cat is either he’s eating the wrong type of food or isn’t eating the required amount. Malnutrition is quite prevalent in felines which are fed homemade meals or a predominantly vegetarian diet. This is why it’s crucial that your pet feeds on high quality cat food to ensure well-balanced nutrition.

Even if you’re a good and caring pet owner, your cat can still become undernourished. To help you spot malnutrition early on, a reputable pet food delivery service shares some warning signs below.

1. Weight loss

Any changes in weight can be an indication of undernourishment because ideally, your kitten should have a well-proportioned body. This is characterized by:

  • A visible waist behind the ribs
  • Ribs that can be felt but with a little bit of fat covering them
  • Small belly fat on the abdomen

If your feline’s ribs are too visible without any fat, this means he’s malnourished. Other obvious signs include an abdominal tuck on cat’s tummy, and very pronounced spine and hip bones.

2. Change in appetite

Too much or too little food consumption can potentially imply not just malnutrition but other diseases as well. As soon as you notice a sudden change in your pet’s appetite, make sure to notify your vet. Your veterinarian will investigate and conduct tests to find out why your cat isn’t eating normally.

3. Dry or scaly skin

When it comes to a cat’s overall health, the most obvious feature is his coat and skin. As you touch and play with your kitten, you will immediately sense changes in his coat. A cat who is well-fed will have a shiny coat without any dandruff.

A sign of possible malnutrition is dry and scaly skin. Other than that, you’ll notice some redness on his skin, itching, flaky dandruff, and a dull-looking coat. Nails will appear caved in as well and, in the long run, your feline friend may lose his fur.

4. Watery and foul-smelling poop

Your pet’s waste will tell you a lot about his health. Firm and well-formed poop indicates that your cat is eating right. Most importantly, your cat should be able to empty his bowels every day.

However, watery and foul-smelling feces can be a sign of poor nutrition. Usually, the reason for this is a sudden change in diet. Meat proteins have a lot of amino acids with sulfur, that when digested, can result in a stinky poop.

If your cat continues to have stinky feces for about two to three weeks, bring him to a vet clinic instantly. Your veterinarian will perform a fecal analysis to determine the root cause of the problem.

5. Fatigue

Fatigue can have a grave impact on your pet’s quality of life. When your cat’s body isn’t able to acquire the nutrients it needs to function, it can bring about low energy. Give your cat food that is rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats, and minerals so that he’ll have enough vitality to seize every day.

What to Do If Your Cat Is Malnourished

A cat suffering from malnutrition will become skeletal in appearance with the shoulder blades and spinal vertebrae clearly visible, and bones protruding. What’s worse, a prolonged phase of malnutrition can result in organ failure and even death.

Follow these tips in feeding your malnourished cat for him to achieve the right weight:

  • Grab your pet’s attention and persuade it to eat by giving tasty food in small portions. This way, a huge influx of food won’t suddenly burden your cat’s digestive system.
  • Once your cat accepts the food you offer and starts eating and gaining weight, you can change his diet to a balanced feed. This is highly recommended as good cat feed contains all the nutrients necessary for your feline friend’s proper development.

Keep in mind that even a pampered cat can still suffer from malnutrition. Be sure to bring your cat to the vet for regular checkups to ensure that any health problems will be addressed immediately.


Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.