Fri, Jan 13, 23
You may have noticed that your cat loves to meow for more food right after a meal or surf the kitchen counter for scraps. If your cat loves to eat, they might try to devour as much food as possible, even to the detriment of their health.
While it might be tempting to give in and fill up their bowl whenever they ask for it, your cat can face serious consequences if they gain too much weight.
Unfortunately, obesity is on the rise among cats and dogs. This condition can lead to many health problems that lower your kitty’s life expectancy. If you want the best for your cat, one of the greatest things you can do for them is make sure they stay at a healthy weight.
If you’re not sure what weight your cat should be, we’re here to help. Read on to find out the ideal cat weight, how to recognize feline obesity, and what you can do to help your kitty keep off the pounds.
What Is My Cat’s Ideal Weight?
The answer varies if you want to know your cat’s best weight. Some cats are naturally much heavier than others. A number on a scale can’t necessarily tell you if your cat is overweight.
As a rule of thumb, a healthy cat usually weighs about ten pounds, but your cat may be much bigger or smaller than average. Particularly large cat breeds such as Maine coons may reach 25 pounds without any issues. On the other hand, Siamese cats are naturally much smaller and might weigh as little as five pounds when fully grown.
Even big cats can become overweight if they overeat, but ensure you’re feeding your cat enough food to sustain their size and activity level. On the flip side, small cats don’t need much food and may quickly gain weight if fed too much.
Many cats don’t belong to any particular breed and simply fall under the domestic shorthair or longhair category. You might not know how big your kitten will get until they’ve finished growing, but you can make an estimate based on the size of their paws.
You can always ask your vet if you’re still unsure what your cat’s ideal weight might be. They’ll be able to determine if your cat is too heavy for their own good or just the right size.
How Can I Tell if My Cat Is Overweight?
While some cats are naturally much longer and taller than others, you can figure out whether your cat is overweight by looking at their body shape.
No matter what size your kitty is, there are several indicators you can use to determine how close they are to their ideal weight. Veterinarians typically use a chart to determine your cat’s body condition score.
This number will reflect your feline’s current fitness and how close they are to their ideal weight. It runs from one to nine, ranging from extremely underweight to extremely overweight. Ideally, your cat will fall somewhere between a four and a five.
You can use this chart to evaluate your cat at home or take your cat to the vet to get a professional opinion. Here are the possible categories your cat might fall into:
One to Three
If your cat’s body condition score is between one and three, they’re very skinny and possibly emaciated. Their ribs might be easily visible, especially if they have short hair.
Their abdomen will be “tucked up” behind their ribs so that you can see the shape of their rib cage. Their pelvic bones could also be visible, depending on how thin they are.
If a cat falls into this category, they’re dangerously underweight and most likely aren’t getting enough calories in their daily meals. It’s rare for a house cat to fall below a three, but if your cat is somewhere in this range, you should immediately take them to your vet.
In some cases, previously healthy cats may lose weight due to illness or parasites. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if your kitty begins to lose weight without any apparent cause.
Four to Five
Cats with a body condition score of four or five will be at a healthy, ideal weight for their size. Their waist should be visible but not particularly pronounced. They should have a slight hourglass shape when seen from above.
Healthy cats also won’t have much fat covering their ribs. If you scratch your cat’s chest, you should easily be able to feel ribs through a thin layer of fur and skin. If you look at your cat from the side, you may notice your cat’s stomach tucks up very slightly behind their ribs, but it shouldn’t be too pronounced.
Cats in this range don’t need any dietary or behavioral adjustments. You should keep feeding them the same quantities of food and take them to a vet at least once a year for a check-up.
Six to Nine
Overweight cats will have a body condition score of six to nine, depending on how obese they are. If your cat is at a six, they may still be healthy, especially if they’re on the older side.
Older overweight kitties might have slower metabolisms that cause them to gain a little mass, but it’s nothing to worry about. You may notice your cat has a slight layer of fat over their ribs, but you can still feel each rib if you pet their chest.
Their stomach and rib cage might be at the same height when seen from the side, without any abdominal tuck visible.
If their stomach begins to sag heavily or you can’t see their waist from above, this can indicate your cat is overweight. You should see your vet if you can’t feel your cat’s ribs through a layer of fat.
How Can I Help My Cat Lose Weight?
If your cat is a few pounds heavier than they should be, there’s no reason to panic. While obesity can cause plenty of health problems for your cat, you can also do a lot to help them lose the excess weight and return to a healthy size.
Supporting your cat’s weight loss journey is important, and we’re here to help. Here are a few of the ways you can help your kitty slim down:
Consult Your Vet
Before starting any weight loss regimens, you should always talk to your vet. They’re the expert in feline nutrition and health, and they’ll be able to give you tailored recommendations for your cat.
Keep in mind that some diseases and medical conditions can cause obesity. By getting your cat examined by a licensed vet, you’ll be able to determine if there’s anything else affecting their weight. The right medication or treatment will sometimes help them drop the extra pounds.
However, if your vet finds that your cat is overweight but otherwise healthy, they’ll be able to guide you toward the right diet and behavioral changes to lower your cat’s weight. They’ll also make sure your expectations are realistic.
You should aim for slow and steady weight loss since rapid weight loss can potentially harm your cat’s liver. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to reduce no more than one to two percent of your cat’s weight weekly.
Get Everyone On Board
If multiple people are in your household, your cat might be getting inconsistent feeding or treats, contributing to their weight gain.
To keep your cat healthy by slowly eliminating their extra weight, you’ll need to keep their meals small and consistent. Make sure everyone knows your cat’s weight loss plan, and ensure that nobody gives them extra treats or overfeeds them.
Sometimes you may need to use a chart or schedule to ensure your cat doesn’t get fed twice. They may meow like they’re starving, but you’ll know they already had breakfast and don’t need another serving.
To help your cat lose weight, you may need to change up their food selection or simply feed them less of it.
If you switch your cat to a weight loss diet, you can keep feeding them the same amount of food as usual. Due to the lower calorie content of the new food, they might still be a little hungry after they finish eating. Splitting their daily nutrition into two to four small meals can help them stay full and satisfied.
However, if you stick with the same food they’ve always had, you should feed them only 60 to 80 percent of their usual portion size. Your vet will help you determine the ideal quantity to help them lose weight while staying healthy.
Some cat foods are particularly high in carbohydrates, which can cause weight gain in cats. Since cats are carnivores, the first ingredient in healthy cat food should always be a meat-based protein.
If you’re looking for high-quality cat food with lots of protein, we recommend browsing our collection of super premium cat foods. Our recipes are free of filler ingredients such as corn, wheat, and soy, which can cause weight gain due to their low nutritional value.
Our Turkey & Oatmeal Recipe was specifically designed for weight management, with lean turkey protein and L-Carnitine to support your cat’s metabolism. Our tasty ingredients will keep your cat happy while supporting their healthy skin and shiny coat.
Use Food Puzzles
Food puzzles can be a great way to keep your cat entertained and help them lose weight simultaneously. These crafty puzzles hide your cat’s food until they find the solution.
They may need to roll or manipulate different pieces with their paws before they can access their food.
Using their instincts to hunt and problem-solve, your cat will stimulate their mind and burn a few calories along the way. They’ll certainly be satisfied with the reward of a great meal.
Exercise and Play
Just like humans, cats need exercise to stay healthy. There are plenty of different ways to play with your cat, from string toys to robotic mice. Anything that gets them active will help them keep off the pounds.
If you have a cat leash, taking your cat outside for short “walks” can stimulate their mind and body. However, they might prefer to spend their time loafing around in the sun rather than trotting at your side like a dog. You’ll need to meet your cat halfway if you want them to get the exercise they need.
The calories in cat treats can quickly add up, causing weight gain before you realize it’s a problem. Before you try anything else, reducing the treats in your cat’s diet is one of the easiest ways to keep them fit and healthy.
Treats should never make up more than 10 percent of your cat’s diet. If you’d like to replace treats with a healthier alternative, you can try cat-safe vegetables such as broccoli or cooked green beans.
Keeping Your Cat Healthy
Making sure your cat stays healthy isn’t always easy, but recognizing when you should intervene is the first step. If your cat is overweight or obese, there are several ways you can help. Make sure you consult your vet and keep an eye on your kitty’s progress, and you’ll soon see the difference you can make.