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Figure 2. Muscle condition score (from nutrition-toolkit => muscle condition score chart for cats pdf)
Table 1. Muscle condition scoring criteria 18
Older cats may have difficulty getting to food without discomfort; this is often due to arthritis, but loss of muscle mass and function can be a contributing factor. Weight loss can occur due to reduced access to food
or reduced intake due to a decline in the ability to taste, smell or see food. Pain (commonly from oral disease) and nausea can interfere with eating. Nausea, associated with hypergastrinemia is believed to occur in some cats with CKD. Gastroprotectants or proton pump inhibitors may be beneficial depending on the cause of the gastric upset. Omeprazole has been shown to be superior to H2 antagonists (i.e., ranitidine) in reducing gastric acid production.19
If physical and laboratory evaluations fail to reveal
a cause for the weight loss, before attributing this problem solely to old age or before considering medical intervention, the cat’s environment should be considered. What may not be threatening to us, or even to the cat in the past, may be perceived as a source
of stress in the older, less confident cat. A discussion about ease of access to all-important resources may
find a crucial defect that may be readily corrected 20. A Household Resource Checklist may be downloaded from Behavior_Household%20Resource%20Checklist.pdf.
To encourage intake, multiple bowls of dry food should be located around the home in safe, quiet, private places. Moist food should be fed 2-4 times per day. Water should be fresh and, like food bowls, should also be in a variety of locations, and not adjacent to food bowls. Treats should be complete and balanced (e.g., SmartbitesTM). Bowls should be wide to allow whisker clearance (especially in a clinic setting). For some cats with cervical or coxofemoral degenerative joint disease or lumbosacral spondylosis, raising the bowl may be helpful. (Photo 1.)
Photo 1. A) Lumbosacral and coxofemoral changes make sitting down uncomfortable. B) Raising food and water bowls may help cats be more comfortable.
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