A cat reaches for some food.

Malnourished Kitty? How to Make Your Cat Gain Weight

The term “fat cat” conjures up many images, but you never hear much about a “skinny cat.” But if your kitty isn’t getting the nourishment they need, you may have to learn how to make your cat gain weight.

“My cat eats anything, it doesn’t matter which food I buy,” isn’t uttered by many cat lovers. Cats and picky-eating pretty much go hand-in-hand. Just ask any feline parent who stocked up on their cat’s favorite food, only to find out that they suddenly can’t stand the sight of it.

Joking aside, feline weight loss is a serious issue. Weight loss is a physical condition that results from a cat’s negative caloric balance. This usually occurs when the cat’s body uses and/or excretes essential nutrients faster than they can consume them. Essentially, more calories are being burned than are being taken in.

Weight loss is considered clinically important when it exceeds 10 percent of the normal body weight and is not associated with fluid loss. During weight loss, a cat’s appetite may be normal, increased, or decreased, so it can be difficult to diagnose. Always consult with your veterinarian, but watch out for things like poor hair coat, diarrhea, vomiting, regurgitation, and/or difficulty swallowing.

If you think you may have a malnourished kitty, check out these tips on how to make your cat gain weight.

Time for a Check-Up?

Your cat may have food allergies or digestive issues that are causing them to lose their appetite. Abdominal pain is very uncomfortable and is one reason your cat will ignore her food. Anorexia doesn’t apply only to humans. This serious condition affects cats too, so knowing how to make your cat gain weight is vital.

If your cat’s food intake decreases to the point of significant weight loss, your veterinarian will likely diagnose them with feline anorexia. If your cat refuses to eat for an unusually long period of time, seek medical treatment immediately. A trained professional will need to assess how severe your cat’s condition is and what treatment is available.


Cats are natural hunters and predators. However distasteful to you, they prefer warm food that gives off that “freshly killed” smell. If your picky Persian puts their nose up at dinner time, try warming their wet food first. Be sure to check the food’s temperature, though, making sure it’s not too hot. Also, note that cooked bones are not good for your cat. They’re more likely to splinter and present choking hazards.

Food Changes

Have you recently introduced a new food? Diet changes need to be gradual. Switching your cat’s food out of nowhere can cause them to avoid eating. If they require a different food, for medical reasons or otherwise, make the switch slowly, adding a little of the new food at a time.

Food Content

Is your skinny Siamese eating, but just not putting on any weight? In these cases, knowing how to make your cat gain weight can be as simple as reading labels. Check out the ingredients in your cat’s food. Premium foods (sold by your veterinarian or pet food stores) tend to have more protein and nutrients than those sold in most grocery stores, which tend to have more filler.

Spice Up the Flavor

If your kitty isn’t purring at meal time, they may have the boring food blues. Entice them to eat with flavor add-ins. Try mixing in some tuna or fish oil. If that doesn’t do the trick, many pet stores sell specially-made gravy just for cats. When you’re trying to figure out how to make your cat gain weight, anything goes!


If you already serve premium food that your cat seems to love, maybe they need a few extra calories. Try high-protein treats in between meals. You can even try vegetables, rice, popcorn, pasta, egg whites, cottage cheese, and yogurt.


Your kitty might be stressing over something completely unrelated to their food. Changes in living space, like new noises or a new pet, cause some cats to take a temporary break from eating. Assess your home to determine any differences that may be causing your cat’s anxiety.

Bringing a cat or kitten home for the first time is stressful. Cats need time to adjust to new surroundings. If you’re able, designate a quiet room or area in your house where your new cat can spend their first few days. This gives them a safe space to get used to the smells and sounds in your home.

You’re Never Too Old for Baby Food

Kitten food, packed with protein and fat, is a quick remedy when determining how to make your cat gain weight. It’s kind of like eating “junk food” for humans. Grain-free foods tend to have more protein and will pack on weight faster than other foods. Just be sure to discuss any diet changes with your vet, as many cats suffer from food allergies.