My Cat Is Wasting Away

This is a cat health problem. Here is the situation:

Male cat is 10 years old. His name is Alvin. He has a good appetite. He loves human food and is given it whenever he wants it. He has diarrhea and constipation. He sometimes poops out of the litter tray and often this is followed by vomiting clear liquid. He has a slight heart murmur. The vet felt a lump in the abdomen but nothing was found using ultrasound. Alvin is losing weight and weighs 3-4 pounds.

Cat weight loss
Cat weight loss. Photo by brownpau
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Stop giving him people food and put him on a high quality wet food diet from a good manufacturer. That would be a good starting point. Human food is liable to not have the essential nutrients such as arginine and taurine. Both are important to a cat’s health.

Heart Murmur

A lack of taurine (taurine deficiency) can cause heart disease such as dilated cardiomyopathy and HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy). Alvin’s slight heart murmur may be linked to an unbalanced diet lacking in essential nutrients. A lack of arginine can be life threatening.

Vomiting clear liquid

Cats are good at vomiting and vomiting occasionally is normal but consistent vomiting is not. Vomiting clear frothy liquid is indicative of:

  • Hairballs, grass and other foreign objects that cannot be digested. This might be relevant.
  • infectious enteritis. As Alvin’s appetite is good I don’t think it is this.

Alvin may have an obstruction. How about an X-ray?


In this instance I would guess that eating the wrong sort of food (too much human food) is a likely cause of the diarrhea. This may be why he poops outside the litter box.


A diet that is low in fiber and high in concentrated meat protein can cause constipation. This may be what is happening when Alvin is eating human food and not enough high quality cat food. A hairball is another possible cause which squares up with the vomiting condition.

Sugar Diabetes

A cat with diabetes can have increased appetite and weight loss. The early signs are peeing frequently, drinking more, large appetite and weight loss. More advanced diabetes results in loss of appetite. Diabetes should be checked out.


Change diet as stated. Alvin may have ingested a bone or something that is causing an obstruction. This is what may have been felt by the vet. Recheck for an intestinal obstruction. Ultrasound might not show up an object because the person doing it may not be experienced enough. Testing needs to be redone.

5 thoughts on “My Cat Is Wasting Away”

  1. I had an 8 year old cat that was eating like crazy, but was wasting away. He never ate “people” food either. Our vet tried steroids, changing diet, etc. Towards the end his abdomen became knotty and he started losing hair. We were referred to a specialist and they found he had stomach cancer. Please get your kitty looked at!

  2. The symptoms are consistent with colon cancer in humans– alternating diarrhea and constipation and vomiting. I’d have the vet check for that. There could be a tumor blocking the intestines. But as Michael said, the blockage could be from something else, something the cat ingested, which got stuck. Malnutrition due to the cat eating too many table scraps is a secondary problem.

  3. Gosh there must be many things possible here. I think number one is go for an x-ray and any kind of tests possible to determine what the problem may be. I know that is obvious – well there surely will come some more information from this. Obviously a biopsy on the lump? This is a massive case of go to the vet and find out exactly what is wrong and do it right away, not a moment to lose.

    I know very little about sickness in older cats or in any age cats for that matter. There are certain things that signal a trip to the vet is needed though and Alvin seems to have crossed a few of those sadly. I hope he is going to be alright 🙁 I hope he doesn’t have cancer.. Good luck Alvin!

    • It is a real question and a real cat. The owner should be concerned. The name of the cat was my invention. I sense this health problem is diet related. A different vet should be consulted.


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