What are the symptoms of a malnourished cat?

Cat Health What are the symptoms of a malnourished cat?, I found a stray cat outside about 3 weeks ago and I took the cat in to my home. He looks like he is about a year old. When I ...

04-10-10, 23:06
  What are the symptoms of a malnourished cat?
I found a stray cat outside about 3 weeks ago and I took the cat in to my home. He looks like he is about a year old. When I found him or when he found me actually, he was all skin and bones. I fed him wet cat food at first until he was able to eat dry cat food. For a while he had been losing patches of hair and I am thinking that maybe it is because he was very malnourished. He is now growing his hair back in the bald patches, As of right now I do not have the money to take him to the vet, but I am working on it. I'm hoping someone can help me answer my question(s) until I am able to take him to the vet. He has been eating and gaining weight just fine, but I am worried that he may be far more sick than I can take care of without a veterinarian. I've never taken in an animal that was severely malnourished like this cat. I just want to know if anyone knows the symptoms of malnourishment. . Please, help.. I am calling the vet tomorrow, but I don't know if they will really tell me much so I would like as much advice as anyone can give.. Anything will help.

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05-10-10, 00:04
you can call animal shelter and if not i geuss you can just keep laying out food for him to eat
im sure he was jsut a starving cat may not be sick at all though you want to be careful about rabies
you can also put a little pillow for him to sleep if he stays around
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05-10-10, 02:31
He's definitely malnourished from your description of him. It also sounds like he's recovering since he's regrowing his fur.

Was he skittish when he found you? Are you sure he doesn't belong to someone else and just escaped? Because 1 year is pretty old for a feral (never had human contact) cat. But it's pretty reasonable for a stray (had an owner but ran away) cat. Post up a few flyers.

If he is beyond vet care (and I have a feeling he isn't) at least you can say you tried. Please don't take him to the shelter because he will almost definitely be euthanized there.

Thank you so much for taking in the poor cat. You're a kind soul. Good luck!
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05-10-10, 06:13
I have taken in many strays and it sounds like you are doing a great job so far. Cats can bounce back nicely even after severe malnutrition with TLC. All of my cats came to me with thin, patchy fur and skeletally thin. His weight gain and hair regrowth proves that he is getting better. If you want him to gain more weight quickly, feed him a good quality kitten food.
Contact your local no-kill cat shelter or cat rescue group. They may have a low cost or free clinic and/or a spay/neuter coupon. If you are willing to keep the cat and have him fixed, they will most likely help you.
In the mean time, he will need to be treated for fleas and wormed. The cheapest flea killer is flea powder. Just follow the instructions on the canister. You can put a pinch in his ears if you think he has mites. Go to Petsmart and get a once a month wormer. The staff can help you chose a good one.
Thank you for taking in a stray. I work with a rescue group and it is really hard to find good homes. Your care and concern for this kitty is really sweet.
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05-10-10, 07:54
As long as you give him good nutritious food, you are doing your best to make him better. Malnourished cats can be aggressive or lethargic, have itchy skin, bald spots, lose weight.

I don't know why switch him to dry food though. I wouldn‘t really recommend feeding any dry food. Cats are designed to get their water from food. That's the way nature designed them, they have low thirst drive. When fed dry, they won't drink enough to compensate for the lack of moisture. They will only consume about 50% of the water they should be having. This can lead to kidney disease, UTI, crystals, blockage, renal failure and more. Especially since you have a tom, this is crucial. Male cats have a narrower urethra than female cats and are more prone to blockage from the crystals.

Free feeding also contributes to obesity. And the fact that dry food is over-processed means, that most of it’s little nutrition has been already destroyed, leaving almost no nutrients for your cat. It needs to eat more to meet it’s needs, and in the process consumes more calories from the fillers.

Btw wetting the dry food will not help. There’s bacteria on the kibble and the water would just allow it to grow.

The only way to give the cat it's natural hydration is to feed it wet food only.

But some wet foods are not of a very high quality, either. That goes for most commercial foods. Just like the dry, they are often made with cheap fillers such as corn, wheat, soy, rice etc. These are not a part of cat's natural diet (it’s an obligate carnivore – it eats meat) and they are not designed to digest it. Grain is carbohydrate which the cats can't process and it turns into blood sugar and fat, causing diabetes and obesity. In the wild, where cats only hunt for meat, diabetes and obesity are unheard of. It's us who cause these by feeding a species inappropriate food.

We usually read labels on our food, but rarely on the food for our cats. Learn to read the label and understand the ingredients. The healthiest food to feed apart from raw feeding is grain-free wet food with no by-product. Some good brands are Wellness CORE, EVO, Merrick, Nature's Variety, Blue Buffalo Wilderness and more. These will give your cat the proper hydration and nutrition it's designed to get and it will be strong and healthy.

If you switch it's diet, do it gradually, by mixing the current food with the new one over couple of weeks until there's only the new. This will prevent diarrhea and upset stomach.

You will probably get a lot of different answers, so google feline nutrition or look at the links below, and do the research for yourself. I personally wasn't able to find one reliable source (besides the pet food industry) that would say grain is beneficial for cats or that dry is beneficial for them.

More on cat nutrition below,

Good luck!
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05-10-10, 09:18
Try gently tugging at the fur along the bare areas, if it easily comes out but fur 1/2" further in does not, you're looking at ringworm, which is a fungus. It's treatable with miconazole from the pharmacy. Dab a small area onto the bare spots twice a day. You'll see new fur growth in a week, and the entire problem will be done with in about a month.
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