How to Tell if a Cat is Malnourished?

In Emotional Support Animal by Emotional Pet Support TeamLeave a Comment

Feeding your cat their regular food every day might not be enough to keep them healthy. Like your diet, your cat’s diet impacts their general health and wellness, and they might not be getting the right amount of nutrients, depending on their food. Cats can become nutrient deficient if they’re picky eaters and you’re forced to cook for them to make them eat. However, if your cat is only eating certain foods, their diet likely won’t contain all the crucial nutrients essential to their health. For example, cats love meat, but they shouldn’t eat a meat-only diet.

Even if your cat is eating cat food from major brands, they could still have a nutritional deficiency and be malnourished. Many commercial brands have poor-quality food that won’t be of much value to you or your cat. Before you can start solving your cat’s problem being malnourished, you must first confirm they’re malnourished. While nutritional deficiency can cause health problems in cats, they’re not the only reason why your cat might be sick. Here are warning signs your cat might be malnourished. 

  1. Dull Coat

If your cat used to have a soft, shiny coat, and it’s become dull, they could have skill allergies, or it could be a sign they’re not getting enough cat vitamins in their diet or drinking enough water. Your cat should not have mats or bald spots anywhere in their fur unless they have a diagnosed illness, such as alopecia. Malnourished cats will have hair that’s dull and rough, and they may also have broken pieces of fur or bald spots. 

  1. Changes in Appetite

Malnourished cats will sometimes eat anything because their bodies tell them they lack nutrients. Some cats will eat items that aren’t food, including toys, to get any nutrients they can from them. Additionally, cats can be picky eaters, but if your cat isn’t eating like they used to, it could signify their food isn’t good for them. 

  1. Skin Problems

Your cat’s diet impacts its health, including its skin health. If your cat’s skin is itchy and inflamed, it could be due to an allergic reaction to their food or a nutrient deficiency. Additionally, dandruff and oily skin are symptoms many malnourished cats have as improper diet will affect skin and coat. 

  1. Changes in Stool

You likely clean your cat’s litter box regularly, so you know what their stool should look like. If your cat is constantly having diarrhea or not defecating at all, it could be because they lack nutrients that soften the stool properly. 

  1. Change in Weight

If your cat loses weight quickly, it could mean they have a bad diet. Of course, other health conditions can cause weight loss and weight gain, so if you notice a sudden change in your cat’s weight, schedule an appointment with your vet to ensure there’s nothing medically wrong with them. 

  1. Unusual Behaviors

Cats with poor nutrition typically experience behavioral changes. Your once cuddly furry friend can become aggressive because they’re not getting the right nutrients for their bodies and minds. If you’re worried your cat is experiencing serious health complications, your vet may recommend learning how to do CPR on your kitty in case of an emergency. 

Common Cat Nutrient Deficiencies

By knowing the common nutrients your cat can be deficient in, you can learn how to manage their diet better. These are the common cat nutrient deficiencies you should be aware of. 


Carbs help your cat stay energized. If your pet isn’t getting enough carbs, they can become weak and lethargic. 


Cats love meat and need protein in their diets to regenerate cells and protect their bodies from infection. Protein is a necessary nutrient for your cat’s immune system to fight viruses and bacteria. A protein deficiency can result in a loss of muscle mass or recurring illnesses. It can also impact skin and coat health. 


Your cat needs healthy fats to protect their organs, and fats also transport vitamins throughout your cat’s body. If your cat’s diet doesn’t contain enough fat, you might notice a dry coat, weight loss, and recurring infections. 

Vitamin Deficiencies

Your cat needs vitamins just like you do. Unfortunately, many commercial pet food brands don’t contain enough vitamins to ensure optimal cat health. If your pet is not having the proper amount of vitamins, they can experience:

  • Skin infections
  • Loss of appetite
  • Neurological problems
  • Dull, dry coat

What to Do About a Malnourished Cat

If you believe your cat is malnourished, you can fix deficiencies on your own by feeding them a high-quality diet. Instead of opting for cheap cat food at the grocery store, go to a pet store and find high-grade foods that are healthy for cats. While you can fix nutritional deficiencies on your own, it’s best to seek veterinary advice if your cat is showing signs of illness due to improper nutrition. 

A vet can help you determine what nutrients your cat lacks to help them get back to optimal health to live happier, healthier lives. 

Final Thoughts

Like their human counterparts, cats require a balanced diet that’s high in nutritional value to stay healthy. While these are just a few signs your cat is malnourished, you should always discuss your cat’s diet with your vet to ensure you’re feeding them the right diet based on their size and weight. Some cats may even require special diets, especially if they’re overweight. Depending on your commitment to your cat’s health, you can come up with an ideal diet based on the advice of your vet to ensure your cat is getting all the nutrients they need to live a full life. If you spend time travelling and board your cat, inform them of your cat’s issues with eating. 

Nutritional deficiency can cause muscle and hair loss and make your cat sick more frequently, so it’s always best to ensure your cat is getting a healthy diet. If you’re not sure what to feed your cat, you can always ask the experts. Many vets specialize in pet nutrition and can help you figure out what diet is right for your furry friend. 

Leave a Comment