I have a 10 yr old, 12 1/2 lb neutered male cat. He's normally an outside cat but has been wanting to spend time with me inside lately. While petting him I notice that I can feel his spine. He's obviously not thin and I can't really feel his ribs. I have other older cats in a similar condition. Is this something that just happens as they age or is something else going on? He still kneads on me but isn't really purring, which concerns me a little bit.


If your cat's spine seems bonier than normal, but his weight is the same, he may be dehydrated. If he is dehydrated, his subcutaneous fat layer is thinner than normal.

The best way to know if there is something wrong with your cat would be to take him to the vet. The vet will do a through examination, and if it's been awhile since your cat has been seen he may recommend bloodwork. Outdoor cats are at risk of a wide variety of diseases and parasites and something may be affecting him.

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Indeed, like humans, cats can have fat distribution change, or even lose some weight just due to age. Maybe even more so with cats than with people, because cats tend to get a little hyperthyroidism with age. A cautionary checkup with the vet is in order whenever you notice any change, however, as cats do not tend to show distress, and sometimes the first sign something is wrong is weight loss.

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  • This is kind of what I was wondering about. I have another 14 yr old cat in a similar condition and was wondering if it wasn't a weight distribution issue. I've only seen it in older cats. Dehydration would make sense, too. It's summer in Texas and none of my cats are drinking enough. Since I've been feeding the 14 yr old wet food, I don't feel her spine as acutely. Their overall weight is normal for their size, it's just this weird thin spine. I'm going to push more fluids and see if that has any effect. – Elorah Aug 29 '16 at 22:19

You should be able to feel your cat's spine. If you can't, he's overweight.

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  • It's not that. I'm familiar with his body and this is different than its been before. His spine makes it feel like he's really thin. I can easily articulate every vertebrae. There's no fat layer at all, and there should be given his weight. – Elorah Aug 29 '16 at 15:11
  • If you are concerned about this, being him to the vet and ask. It sounds like you are overreacting, but there's no way to to a proper checkup over the Internet (and I'm not a vet anyway). – keshlam Aug 29 '16 at 15:54
  • I'm not overly concerned, I'm just asking the question. It seems a phenomenon I've found on several older cats and I'm looking for an explanation. That's what this site is about. It's not helpful to just tell people to take their pet to the vet. That's not an answer. – Elorah Aug 29 '16 at 16:48
  • I gave you my best answer; you didn't like it. If you don't want to get a vet's opinion either (best second answer I have), feel free to wait and see if someone else gives you an answer you like better. – keshlam Aug 29 '16 at 18:41

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