I'm writing with a question that has bugged me for a while. I have an approximately two year old rescue cat we found as a kitten. She is our first time cat so I'm not too sure if this is common but I find her to be so skinny and slight in comparison to other cats.

She has all of her shots and worming up to date. We feed her high grade dry food and occasionally wet food as a treat. We get nothing but compliments on her coat being so silky.

She is mainly an indoor cat but she goes outside for maybe 4-5 hours a day then stays in for the evening. We try to refrain from feeding her much until the evening because she will stay out after dark if she's full.

When I went in with her to the vet to get her last shot the vet commented on how small she was and we wormed her then to be sure, that was about 2 months ago now.

Basically, she hasn't really grown much in height since she was about 6 months old, she's just really long and skinny, you can even feel her rib cage despite her eating well and being wormed. My friend has two cats (male and female) that are about 6 months old and have way surpassed her in size. Is this normal, has anyone else a similar type of cat? I've just been thinking of it ever since the vet commented on it.

Edit: She is also spayed

  • What keshlam said is valid! Cats just tend to vary. I have two cat sisters from the same litter, one of them is nearly a petite cat due to her length and height (though she seems smaller than all the other cats in her age that i took care of, previously), meanwhile the other is massive for her age (both are one year old - oh and she's also in my profile picture haha).
    – D. Tunus
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 11:01
  • 2
    And a pretty kitty she is! Thanks for the advice! Commented May 17, 2016 at 18:52
  • I got on here to see if it is normal for my cat to be so thin. Her name is Candy, she is 3.5 yrs old and only weighs 7 pounds. She has been the same weight most of her life. She is not real finicky about food, she just eats a little at a time. She is a gray tabby and has always been a house cat and is still active. She even plays fetch. That being said Snickers my part Siamese weighs 15 pounds at 2 yrs old and will eat Candys food if she leaves it so I never feed them different amounts because he gets what he needs from her bowl. But I sometimes worry about Candy but when I sit with her while
    – Laura
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 2:30
  • A rule of thumb I remember reading somewhere. Absent any other signs (matted fur, eye problems, etc), or rapid changes in weight: If you can see the ribs, the cat is too skinny. If you can feel the ribs they're a healthy weight, if you can no longer feel the ribs they are overweight. A gross oversimplification when taking into account fur thickness and such, but roughly correct.
    – Stig Tore
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 5:48
  • I'll give you a thumbs up, dude! (Or missy!) You've got alot of answers and no thumbs up to your question! Here! Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 15:26

8 Answers 8


Yes. Just like us, cats vary in size and shape and weight. And like us, some of that is diet, some is health, some is genetics, some is age.

One of my lady's cats was the runt of the litter; it wasn't certain she would survive, and she has always been both small and skinny. It hasn't seemed to limit her climbing/jumping much, if at all; I think she benefits from square/cube law to be stronger relative to her weight than you would expect.

Another cat in the family was not only longer/taller/broader but also more solidly muscled. I think he may have weighed twice what the small one did, without being overweight.

(The simplest rule-of-thumb test for whether a cat is overweight: if you can count every vertibra as you run your hand down their back, they're fine. If some or all of them are hard to feel through the skin, there's probably more fat there than there should be. The runt really is below ideal weight; not only can you feel every bone in her back, it's somewhat hard to believe there are muscles and tendons there. Especially true now that she's a senior catizen.)

  • Thank you for your reply, I have a feeling she was a runt also because she was just so tiny when we found her but she was fully mobile (she wasn't doing the cute dinosaur new born kitten walk) for her size. I just assumed she would have a growth spurt at some point! P.S. Love the term 'senior catizen', amazing :) Commented May 17, 2016 at 18:45

I have an 8 yr old long-haired tabby who is very long and skinny. He eats, but is never really very interested in food. He'll always take a cuddle over grub if he has the choice. He's indoor at night and in and out using a cat door during the day. Occasionally hunts and brings me a bird, but never eats one that I've seen.

I've tried every kind and combo of food out there. He has only gained 40 grams since I adopted him 2 months ago. The vet did complete labs and a very thorough exam. She says his blood work and teeth are that of a much younger cat and he's very healthy. I guess he's just a naturally skinny guy.

If you're concerned, a blood and urine test to show liver and kidney function could reassure you. Although they're expensive, it Helped me quit stressing and buying umpteen types of cat food that he didn't really want anyway. enter image description here


Is your cat sterilized? Non-sterilized cats are usually rather fit and even skinny because mating calls take a lot of energy.

In addition I guess she runs a lot outside that helps her to keep fit.

Also I suppose that she is still growing and all her energy goes into size not width, which would be hilarious.

My third though: was the medicine for worming effective? As she goes outside she must be wormed every 4 months. Maybe it's worth trying another medicine?

  • Hi @Dude yep she is spayed. Maybe it is the exercise from running about outside. I never really know where she goes. As for the worming medicine, I'm not sure how to tell if it is effective or not. Perhaps I will open a new thread if it doesn't already exist on that topic. I just assumed they all work! Commented May 17, 2016 at 18:33
  • to find out wether worming medicine was effective or not, you can give her dirty to a vet in order he checks it, makes a test. In addition, some medicine can kill only specified kinds of worms, and isn't effective for the rest. So I guess you need to consult with a vet, so he could recommend a better medicine.
    – Dude
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 8:15

We have a long, tall and skinny tux-tabby boy who is also commented on for his slender appearance. He's 12lbs, slender, and perfect. Might be the breed? Some are slinky! I was always told that feeling ribs is fine as long as it's when you press gently, during a stroke for example. Neither of mine go outside due to personal choice given the traffic and diseases around my neighborhood. I could not cope with anything happening to them because I decided to let them go explore our crappy neighbourhood.

I second people's comments on the wet food, though, and would add that ingredients are everything, especially where cats are concerned. My 2 boys have been on good quality food their whole lives and at 3 years old, still play like crazed kittens. Keep dry food to a minimum, think "fingerpinch" not "handfull" as well. There is NO such thing as a "dry mouse" and cats are carnivores, they get little to no nutrition from plants and almost zilch from the ground up grains that brands like Hills(?) and Friskies love putting as a main ingredient in their food. Ground Yellow Corn... for example... nothing but industrial waste used to bulk up their slaughterhouse waste, something I would not feed to a pig but people put their hard-earned cash into these products that are worth less than the tin they come in! A lot of the dry food you see out there also has too much filler, and not enough rich protein sources, plus the manufacturing process is said to be appalling. People add water or wet food, allowing stagnant bacteria to flourish. Drinking cannot make up for this dry food diet -- it's not going to help a species known for low-thirst drive and it's not going to prevent those kidneys from working overtime to undo the damage dry food does.

Perhaps if you keep this cat indoors more, you may notice some weight gain? There are plenty of ways to give a cat exercise indoors, a cat tree for example.

Last note, try lightly cooking (or fully cooking) some chicken liver, hearts or even breast for a treat. I leave it a little pink in the middle for my lil guys and they love it! Also, seems basic but I had trouble adjusting as my boys both grew (both are now 12lbs) but make sure that you are feeding appropriate to the weight of your cat, that means nevermind the cans, look at the calories. My boys are on about 300 a day on average if that helps.

p.s. "High grade dry food" is a misnomer. It's actually becoming known as "Kidney disease in a bag". The worst wet food might just be better than the best dry food, with a few exceptions to that rule cough science-diet-"hells"-purinacough.

  • The food I use claims to contain a formula designed to acidify the urinary system, preventing the formation of kidney stones. The nutritional values are: Protein: 30% - Fat content 14% - Gross Fibre 1.6% - Inorganic matter 8% - Humidity 11% - Calcium 1.5% - Phosphorous 1.1% - Then all the fortified additives such as taurine 750mg etc. I feed her chicken breast and fish maybe once or twice a week already but I'd say she would love to try the liver! As for keeping her in, I think she would go insane she loves her hour or two outside. I don't think I could keep her inside. Commented May 19, 2016 at 15:29

I have three cats at present. Two are norwegian forest cats. One of it is overweight, it could have a kilo less. The tomcat has an optimal weight. My third cat is a Main Coon and it is taller than the others - and very skinny. It could have at least 500g more. Each of my cats gets its own kind of food because they are a bit picky and they don't like the food the others get. They did not change their build during the last years.

I would not worry if your cat is healthy and active. If you feed dry food you could offer it permanently (and water of cause). I think your cat will take as much as it needs.

  • Thank you for your reassurance, you sound like you have a wonderfully fluffy feline family :) The dry food seems to shrivel up if I give I leave it out so I just give her a small bit in the morning and then a big old feed in the evening when she comes home from her adventures that she grazes away at for the night. Commented May 17, 2016 at 18:40

I know cats are desert animals and the get their needed moisture from the wet food. Think of dry food like eating a dehydrated food ration. Then the drink and it plumps and goes out pretty quick, not really the way id choose to eat. But seeing how there is no listing of sugars on pet foods, its harder yet to get your cat its needed nutrients. hope this helps someone , and my next cats will be all wet food or cooked meats, like chicken and fish.

  • I disagree that all dry food is how you described. I can't leave the food we use out in a bowl all day because it dries up and shrinks from the moisture evaporating once it's out of it's sealed bag. It's not bone dry, but its not wet food like the jelly pouches which I find hard to find in a good food grade. Hence why she gets the wet food maybe once a week as a treat. I've rarely seen wet food in a veterinary clinic and there must be a reason behind that. Commented May 18, 2016 at 6:40
  • Ok, but im still confused on how im wrong about dry food? if it is bread , it don't matter the kind, its still bread, just as fresh meat is all meat. and Fact is ALL DRY food , is ingested and needs water. hence it is not complete. What you are seeing when you say it is the food drying out , is nothing more than the oils and scent of the food to attract the pets. Not enough to help the animal digestive track. Hey , show me one vet in the wild where a cat will stop hunting for the chance at some dehydrated meal ? Hope you all have an uplifting season.
    – user7247
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 13:08
  • I'm not trying to start an argument and this is going off the point of my question. I'm just stating that the dry food in my country is better nutritionally than the wet with a higher content of protein at a higher quality. The dry food has a humidity value so it is definitely more than the oils and scent of the food that dries it out. Obviously actual meat is much closer to a cats natural diet but it's not something I can afford on a daily basis but maybe once or twice a week. My cat is happy and healthy and the food she eats isn't the problem with her being slim. Commented May 18, 2016 at 15:37
  • im sorry , I'm not trying to argue either. i lost 2 cats 23 and 16 years old. im in the U.S. and most people dont home cook, which allows me to feed them better at a way better cost. anyhow , i hope you have an enjoyable ,relaxing evening with your cat.
    – user7247
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 0:37
  • I'm so sorry for your loss. 23 and 16 years are great ages! I see a lot more people have commented on the wet food vs dry food debate also. Commented May 19, 2016 at 15:21

Cats do need to get their moisture from their food. A steady diet of dry food can lead to cystitis in females, and worse, a plugged male. Cats do not like to drink water from a bowl, although they will when they get thirsty enough. It is definitely healthier if they can get their water from their food and not be forced to get their water from a bowl.

  • The food I use claims to contain a formula designed to acidify the urinary system, preventing the formation of kidney stones. The nutritional values are: Protein: 30% - Fat content 14% - Gross Fibre 1.6% - Inorganic matter 8% - Humidity 11% - Calcium 1.5% - Phosphorous 1.1% - Then all the fortified additives such as taurine 750mg etc. The protein content was quite high in comparison to all the wet food I could find, I just can't find any high grade ones. Drinking from a bowl has never seemed to bother my little kitty before. We would have to refill it maybe two - three times a day in fact. Commented May 19, 2016 at 15:32
  • Another good way to encourage hydration beyond food is a water fountain. Cats are fascinated by running water, and much prefer drinking it to still water.
    – Kwuz
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 19:01
  • Funny enough, I actually only discovered these yesterday and was considering getting a water fountain! So, in your opinion after giving you the nutritional value of the dry food I use plus the water fountain, do you think it will be better than using poorer quality wet food? Commented May 20, 2016 at 4:45

Unfortunately the food sold in most Vet Hospitals (Hills) is not the best for your pet. Veterinary nutrition is the most overlooked course work in Vet. School. Hills does a beautiful job convincing vet students that their food is "the best". They also provide the best margins thus prompting vets to promote their products. Look at the ingredient label and understand that the ingredients are in order; the first being the biggest portion of the food and portions decline in order. If corn or other grains are in the first three ingredients, that is a definite indicator the food is a lesser quality. ( Have you ever seen a cat or dog in a corn field chowing down?) It is unfortunate the economics drives many of the decisions in the "modern" Veterinary Hospital but it does.

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