My cat is 12 years old, very thin and won’t eat. I’ve tried hand-feeding her and heating her food, but nothing seems to work. What can I do?
You sound like a dutiful owner, as you have already noticed two symptoms in your cat: appetite change and weight loss. These, of course, go hand in hand, but it's a reminder to other owners to always be on the lookout for appearance and behavioral changes in pets.
Although cats rarely die of starvation, loss of appetite is one of the initial symptoms of many underlying diseases. Cats can, however, succumb fairly quickly to dehydration caused by a sudden reduction of fluid intake, so make sure your cat has fresh water at all times.
The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that you should contact your veterinarian if your cat has not eaten for one to two days. Cats are creatures of habit and rarely miss meals unless something is wrong or different. This includes changing the brand or flavor of your high-quality food, moving the feeding area or adding some other stress inducer -- such as a new dog or loud new appliance.
Some pet food manufacturers now offer special weight control and weight gain foods for cats like yours. My guess is that your cat has an illness that requires treating. Part of that treatment could very well include feeding your cat one of these unique formulas, available through veterinarians. Ask your cat's doctor about them.