How To Tell If My Cat Is Overweight And What To Do [With FAQs]

We all love pampering our cats, from endless cuddles to the occasional treat that makes their eyes widen with delight. However, it’s important to pause before giving in to those big, pleading eyes next time. A considerable number of our feline friends are tipping the scales, which can lead to serious health complications.

Startlingly, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, up to 63% of pet cats in regions like the U.S., Canada, and Europe were found to be overweight or obese. Excessive weight in cats can stem from overfeeding, insufficient exercise, or other underlying health issues. 

How Much Should My Cat Weigh?

Orange cat on the floor looking up

For a typical house cat, a healthy weight usually hovers around 4kg (about 9 pounds), although this can differ based on several factors such as breed, age, and overall health. Your vet is the best resource to determine the ideal weight for your specific cat’s breed. 

Weighing your cat at home might come with its challenges, especially if your cat isn’t too keen on sitting still on the scales. A practical approach is to first weigh yourself, then weigh again while holding your cat or with your cat comfortably in a carrier. You can then simply subtract your weight, or the weight of the carrier, from the total to pinpoint your cat’s weight accurately.

Assessing your Cat’s Body Shape

Alternatively, observing your cat’s silhouette can offer clues to their weight status. From above, a healthy cat will exhibit a subtle waistline, the area behind the ribs should taper inward. When viewed from the side, there should be a slight tuck upwards of the belly; this is your cat’s abdominal tuck.

While petting along their sides, you should be able to feel the ribs without too much padding. If the ribs are not discernible or there’s a noticeable swing in their lower belly, it might be time to consider a weight management plan for your kitty. 

Health Risks in Overweight Cats

Carrying extra weight isn’t a sign of prosperity for our feline companions; it’s a risk factor for a shorter and less comfortable life. Research published by VCA Hospitals indicates that obesity can reduce a cat’s life expectancy significantly. Obese cats, particularly in the prime age bracket of 8-12 years, are shown to have a mortality rate almost three times higher than their leaner counterparts.

The main reason for this could be because an overweight cat is more susceptible to several serious health conditions, including:

  • Cancer: The increased production of inflammatory compounds by fat tissue can contribute to the development of certain types of cancer.
  • Diabetes: Excess fat affects insulin sensitivity, leading to this common health issue in cats.
  • Heart disease and hypertension: The added strain on the heart and blood vessels can lead to many heart issues and also higher blood pressure.
  • Osteoarthritis: The additional weight places undue stress on joints, accelerating their deterioration.
  • Urinary bladder stones: Overweight cats are at a higher risk of developing these painful obstructions.
  • Anesthetic complications: During surgeries, obese cats face a higher risk of complications due to the stress on their organs and altered drug metabolism.

Moreover, obesity can compromise a cat’s ability to maintain healthy skin and coat, as well as reduce their immune response to infectious diseases. 

What to Do If My Cat is Overweight

2 cats playing on a wooden cat box with bridge

If a glance or gentle stroke along your cat’s side suggests more fluff than muscle, it might be time to come up with a trim-down strategy. 

Review and Reduce Your Cat’s Food Intake

It’s not just about the size of the cat kibble heap. Ensure your furball’s fare aligns with their needs. A vet can guide you through the caloric maze—aiming for that sweet spot of 53 to 77 calories per kg. It could be as simple as tweaking their current diet, cuting down your cat’s treats,  or as tailored as a vet-prescribed diet. 

Encouraging Active Play

Even if your cat appears to have perfected the art of relaxation, it’s important they rekindle their natural predatory instincts with some energetic play. Aim for at least 30 minutes of active fun every day to help manage their weight. 

If the usual toys no longer pique their interest, embark on a quest for that new captivating plaything that entices them into action. Look for toys that encourage jumping, chasing, and playful hunting behaviors.

Consulting Your Vet

If you’ve established a controlled diet and your cat is as active as can be, but their weight is steadfast, it’s time to seek expert advice. Arrange a visit to the vet; they will check for underlying health issues that could be contributing to your cat’s weight concern. They can then provide a bespoke health and weight management plan suited to your cat’s unique situation.

FAQs About How to Tell If Your Cat Is Overweight

If your cat is carrying extra weight, your vet might suggest switching to canned cat food. The higher moisture content in wet food helps cats feel fuller on fewer calories, aiding in weight management. Conversely, for underweight cats, dry food may be recommended because of its calorie density, helping them to gain the necessary weight.

For optimal growth, kittens under six months old should ideally be fed three times a day. As they grow, transitioning to two meals a day from six months to one year of age supports their development without overfeeding. Upon reaching adulthood at about one year, one or two meals a day will generally suffice, depending on their health, activity level, and dietary needs.

Obesity in cats is not just about extra pounds; it's a serious health concern that amplifies the risk of various life-limiting conditions that could result in expensive treatments. In addition, excessive weight can hinder a cat's grooming ability and restrict their movement, impacting essential natural behaviors and overall quality of life.

Authors

  • Wai Ling

    Author:

    Foodie at heart and (almost) always with a camera in hand. When she's not busy with work, you'll find her munching around Singapore or snapping pics in some cool new spot.

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