How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Christian K. Your Own Question
Dr. Christian K.
Dr. Christian K., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 10146
Experience:  12 year of veterinary experience in feline surgery, medicine and behavior
Type Your Cat Veterinary Question Here...
Dr. Christian K. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

my outside cat is sick - lethargic, losing weight, fur is falling

Resolved Question:

my outside cat is sick - lethargic, losing weight, fur is falling out, losing fights with neighbourhood stays and looking very unwell suddenly
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Christian K. replied 8 years ago.


This is Dr.Christian. Welcome to JustAnswer. There are several causes for lethargy, weight loss and the other symptoms you've described. Here are some possibilities:

  • Hyperthyroidism- This is caused by a tumor in the thyroid gland that causes overproduction of thyroid hormone. It causes a cat to have a very high metabolism. The tumor does not spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms are eating with weight loss, vomiting, increased thirst and urination, diarrhea, fast heart rate and heart diseases. It is a very treatable condition with medication or radiation treatment. Diagnosis is by bloodwork. Here's a link:
  • Diabetes- Diabetes is a lack of control of blood sugar. The blood sugar becomes very high. The symptoms are weight loss, increased urination and thirst, more prone to infections, occasional vomiting and eventually loss of appetite and weakness. Treatment is usually a diet change and insulin injections. It is diagnosed with bloodwork and sometimes a urinalysis. Here's a link:
  • Kidney Disease- Kidney failure is very common in cats and is a condition that is not curable but certainly can be treated to improve a cat's quality of life. Symptoms include weight loss, vomiting, increased urination and thirst, and lack of appetite. Diagnosis requires bloodwork. Treatment usually includes diet changes, fluids and sometimes medications to improve anemia or lower phosphorous levels. Here's a link:
  • Cancer- Cancer is a common condition as well and can cause a varied list of symptoms including weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy and lack of appetite. Some cancers are more treatable than others depending on the type.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease- Inflammation of the wall of the intestine will cause a decreased capacity to digest food leading to malnourishment. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss and vomiting. This is sometimes caused by a food allergy. Diagnosis is usually made with an intestinal biopsy but many times treatment is prescribed to monitor for improvement. Treatment usually involves steroids, diet changes and sometimes antibiotics. Here's a link:
  • Liver Disease- Liver disease can be caused by cancer, infection or inflammation (hepatitis). The symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes a yellow appearance to the skin called icterus or jaundice. Diagnosis usually starts with bloodwork but final diagnosis of the cause usually requires ultrasound and a biopsy. Treatment includes diet changes, possibly antibiotics, and liver medications to help improve its health and function. Treatment is also specific to the cause of the liver dysfunction.
  • Feline leukemia and feline aids viruses- These viruses are spread from other cats through bodily fluids. Unfortunately they are not curable and ultimately deadly. Common routes of transmission include bite wounds and from mother to kitten. Simple blood tests can diagnose these diseases and vaccines are available. Treatment is usually supportive such as fluids and medications to help appetite. Here's some links:

As you can see there are numerous possibilities but with an outdoor cat getting in to fights feline leukemia and feline aids are the most likely possibilities. A quick blood test can be done for these diseases and if that is negative then more bloodwork make be necessary. If you have more questions please let me know, I'll be online later this afternoon and evening.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

he wouldn't come in to eat this morning, but I took food, water and milk to him in the garden this afternoon and made sure that he ate and drank. He did get up to eat. but is moving very tentatively, appears very stiff and sore and is clearly not feeling good. His fur is not shiney and is falling out. He looks like he has been fighting as he has small clumps of fur missing. Do you still think that it feline leukemia or feline aids?


Husband is away with the car and I have a baby not easy to get to the vet until tomorrow evening - is this soon enough - I'll keep him inside and make sure he eats and drinks, plus then I can take both cats and ensure that the other is all right?


Both cats are up to date on shots ie. rabies and cat flu etc, whatever the vet recommends, but I cant find the receipt from their last annual visit in December, but won't they have been innoculated against these or do I specifically have to ask?


If they do have one of these diseases - are they curable?


Expert:  Dr. Christian K. replied 8 years ago.
Hello, Dr.Christian again. Feline leukemia and Aids will cause a generally unkempt appearance such as poor hair coat and loss of hair. However, any developing disease that makes a cat ill enough (including all of those I've listed above) will do the same thing. If you can get him to eat and drink then it should be okay to have him checked tomorrow night. Try boiled chicken breast and white rice for food. You can even try chicken baby food mixed with warm water fed through a syringe or dropper. The dropper can also be used to give water and sometimes a cat will drink warm, lowfat chicken broth. There are vaccines for Leukemia and Aids but the Aids vaccine is only fair in its protective quality. Your vet will be able to tell you if he was vaccinated for these. Unfortunately neither of these diseases are curable. A cat can actually carry either virus for a long time in some cases without problem but when they start to act sick it is generally downhill from there. In most cases you treat secondary infection, give medications and keep them hydrated in the hopes that they will turn around. If you have more questions please let me know.
Dr. Christian K. and other Cat Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you