Why is My Cat So Small? Reasons and answers

As a pet parent and owner, it’s very normal for you to get worried if your cat isn’t gaining any weight or is getting abnormally smaller and thinner in its size. Averagely, the normal weight of an adult cat varies depending on the breed.

Meanwhile, a cat weighs just a few pounces when they were a kitten and still growing; they tend to grow fast and add many pounds every month.

However, some cats become fully grown once they reach a year old; but some other breeds of cats like the Maine Coon, for instance, can keep growing until they clock five.

Some reasons why your cat might remain small and stop growing or adding weight may therefore vary due to gender, the breed, the feeding patterns. He might be eating and feeding properly but remains small because of an illness like diabetes.

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Reasons Why Your Cat is Small

Aside from your cat’s breed – which is often the reason – there are many reasons why your cat looks so small. It could be in the food it’s eating, her lifestyle, or even her gender. However, here are the major reasons that explain your cat’s size.

It Maybe Due to the Feeding Pattern

Your cats should averagely eat at least two meals in a day (the normal feeding of a cat), and every meal should be at least 12 hours separate. You may also reschedule your cat’s meal to be at least three square meals a day.

However, there are so many instances when a cat’s feeding pattern may not be appropriate and normal, especially if there are multiple cats in the house and bullied by the others. This is very common when there is a smaller cat/kitten in the home.  

Moreover, to such events like this, you should monitor your pets and keep an eagle eye during mealtime to ensure that each one is eating properly.

It Maybe Due to the Cat’s Gender

In some cases, the gender of your cat/kitten also matters. Although, this is in line with the breed of the cat. Some breeds are completely different and vary completely.

Some breeds of female cats are usually smaller than male cats. Also, many cats that have been spayed or neutered, especially before they are in their puberty period, may tend to be larger in size and bigger in weight than some other cats that were fixed when they were already adults.

Your Cat’s Breed

Most kitties are small because of the breed they belong to. Adult cats that belong to smaller breeds typically weigh below 10 pounds, according to the Cat Breeds Encyclopedia. Smaller breeds naturally keep their kitten-like stature and even attitude as they age.

It Maybe Because of the Cat’s Breed

As we explained earlier, some cats tend to get smaller because of their breed. According to the Cat Breeds Encyclopedia, adult cats found in a small breed do weigh less than ten pounds. These breeds are known to keep their kitten-like physical appearance and even attitude into their adult years. Some of these breeds are listed and explained below.

1. Singapore

These breeds are almost half the size of the average cat and tend to weigh not more than just 5 pounds in their adult years. Therefore, their bodies are petite, but they’re very active and great climbers because of their lightweight nature. This particular unique breed is also affectionate, attractive, and also tends to love struggling to cuddle themselves on their owner’s lap.

2. Munchkin

This cat breed may be considered one of the smallest breeds, and its small size is due to a gene mutation in its system; therefore, making its legs a little bit shorter than that of a normal cat. The breed is famous for being renowned for its pottery gait, which is to land with their heels first and walking on a heel-toe action, great right?

This breed of cats may not be capable of jumping from high buildings and places, but they’re very agile and active and have a kitten-like personality. The breed’s name was derived from a magical folk in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

3. Devon Rex

This breed of cat mostly weighs around five to ten pounds only, and aside from their small and little stature, they tend to have big, large, and round eyeballs and big ears with a super-soft coat. The Devon rex cats are very friendly and a lot more sociable than others. They tend to love being the center of attention. What sets this breed apart from the others is its short whiskers, making them look cute, unique, and lovable.

4. American Curl

The American Curl breed of cats is petite and with its ears curl backward toward their skull base. This breed is also famous and well renowned for being affectionate, cute, and very playful, making them ideal for families with kids. It’s very interesting and exciting to find out that these cats have straight ears at birth, which will begin to curl backward when they turn ten days old.

5. Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex breed has a very nice and beautiful curly coat that possesses down hair that’s soft and great to the touch. They don’t shed much and are very much ideal for cat lovers who are prone to allergies. They weigh up to eight pounds and have long and agile, and flexible toes that easily open a door or cabinets.

6. Siamese

The Siamese breeds of cats are usually lightweight and do weigh just about five pounds. They do have a sleek and athletic build and have this striking blue eyes and a glossy coat. It is known as one of the oldest cat breeds and is believed to be a descendant of Thailand’s sacred temple cats.  

7. Balinese

This cat breed is commonly known as the purebred long-haired Siamese. Cats that are of this breed also weigh just around 5 pounds.

8. Dwelf

The Dwelf breed, which is popularly known to derive its name from two combined words, “dwarf and elf” isn’t yet a recognized breed. They have a foreign-like appearance and look, and they also possess the traits of three cat breeds. They have the short legs of the Munchkin, the Sphynx’s hairless body, and the curled ears of the American Curl.

Due to Poor Nutrition

Cats are also believed to be so small and lean because they may not be eating the right foods, feeding properly, and therefore, this will lead to a lack of needed nutrients.

Therefore, there are the various necessary nutrients that your cats will need; let’s see what they are:

1. Animal Protein

Cats are naturally and carnivores; therefore, they should have their regular dose of amino acids from animal protein (from food-containing foods) which helps in the development and proper growth of their organs, tissues, and bones. However, they should be fed with meats like chicken, turkey, beef, and fish available from various cat food brands.

2. Fats

Know that your cats will also need a significant amount of good and healthy fats in essential fatty acids like the Omega 3 and 6 present in fish. Moreover, Steve Doer,  a technical director of  RedBarn Products, stated that the fats help maintain a cat’s body temperature, give energy when the fat is dissolved and digested, and help to absorb vitamins like A, D, E, and K.

3. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, as commonly known, provides energy.  Sources of carbohydrates that should be included in a cat’s regular diet include grains like wheat and rice.

4. Water

Cats naturally aren’t known to be fastidious and great-lovers of water drinkers because they’ve been well-adapted to obtain most of the water they need from the food they eat. Therefore, this feature is due in part to having been evolved and originated from the desert cats. However, water is essential for cats because it helps o maintains their temperature, eliminates toxins, and, most importantly, distributes and metabolizes nutrients in their bodies.

5. Vitamins

Just like humans, cats need essential vitamins in the right proportions. These vitamins include Vitamin A for a strong immune system and good vision; Vitamin D or the so-called sunshine vitamin, Vitamin B1 or Thiamine, which is needed for the healthy metabolism of carbohydrates; Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin for growth and overall health.

6. Minerals

They need minerals for enzyme formation, utilization of nutrients in the body, and transport oxygen. These essential minerals include iron, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and chloride.

It Could be Due to a Worm Infestation

Your cat may also be so small and not gaining weight because of internal parasites lurking in his intestines which he might have gotten from his meals.

Therefore, the common types of worms that can affect cats are hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and heartworms.

Aside from weight loss, other accompanying symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, bloated belly, constant coughing, and worm segments in the poop or the anus. Should you observe the said symptoms, you should bring your cat to the vet.

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Your Cat May Have Diabetes or Hyperthyroidism

If your cat has a voracious appetite but still losing weight, there is cause for concern as it could be a sign that she has an illness like diabetes or hyperthyroidism. The usual signs of diabetes in cats include an increased appetite and rapid weight loss, and excessive thirst and urination.

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are quite similar to diabetes but include an increased appetite, pronounced weight loss, diarrhea, and excessive thirst and urination. If this is the case, your vet should be consulted at once.

The Runt of the Litter

If you’ve noticed that your kitty is significantly small, especially if you have a cat brother or sister from the same litter to compare it to, then your kitty might be the runt of that litter.

There’s usually one runt kitten born in a litter, and they are easy to distinguish since they’re the smallest and the weakest of the group. Some runt kittens might have congenital defects, which are abnormalities of structure, function, or metabolism.

Some abnormalities aren’t always visible, and there are runt kittens that can be nursed back to health as long as their owners or the veterinary shelter give them extra attention. Unfortunately, these kittens rarely survive in the wild, but if you have one in your home, then remember how special your little fighter is.

If you’ve adopted an already grown but small-sized cat, it could be because they weren’t eating enough while they were on the streets or the previous owner hadn’t invested in a “well-balanced, meat-based diet – suitable for their age, health status, and lifestyle.”

It’s also possible that your cat is underweight because the current food brand or type of food doesn’t meet their nutritional needs.

Is It Normal for a Cat to be Small?

As said earlier, if you notice any drastic changes in your cat’s weight or stunted growth in a kitten, it could be signs of a serious condition or infection. As cat parents, we have to be observant and to be ready to take action not by self-diagnosing, but by taking them to the vet.

But if you look into your cat’s ancestry and discover that they’re part of a small-sized breed, then you probably have nothing to worry about. It is expected for them to be small since they originate from a small-sized cat.

A small cat is nowhere less than “normal,” and if they’re eating properly and live a normal and healthy life without any destructive or problematic behaviors, then you can simply enjoy their size for what it is!

Your cat’s size could be part of their inheritance; their struggle to survive as the smallest of kittens, a sign of an illness they had fought through, or they could simply be naturally thinner, specifically at the back end. If they’ve always been like this, all you have to do is love them for who they are!

How to Ensure that Your Cat has a Proper Growth Cycle?

If you’ve just adopted a kitten or a cat that still isn’t fully grown yet, there are ways to make sure they’ll reach their fullest potential and best ability. But of course, the following advice isn’t only suitable for a kitten, but also cats of all sizes and ages too.

Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay


When you notice your cat looks small and remains thin, you should also take notice and see why your cat isn’t adding any weight. After considering this, you will know what actions to take and which is suitable.

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