Is Your Cat Overweight?

As cat owners, we want our feline companions to be healthy and happy. However, just like humans, cats can struggle with weight issues. If you've noticed your cat is carrying a few extra pounds, it's important to help them achieve a healthy weight. 

How to Know If Your Cat is Overweight 

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for your cat's overall well-being. But how do you know if your cat is overweight? Here are some signs to help you determine if your cat is carrying excess weight: 

  1. Body Condition Score: One of the most reliable ways to assess your cat's weight is by using a body condition score (BCS) system. This system evaluates your cat's body shape and fat distribution. On a scale of 1 to 9, a BCS of 1 indicates emaciation, while a BCS of 9 indicates severe obesity. Ideally, your cat should have a BCS of 4 to 5, where their ribs are easily felt but not visible, and there is a slight waistline when viewed from above. 
  2. Visible Fat Pads: If you notice visible fat pads on your cat, particularly around the abdomen, hips, or base of the tail, it may indicate that they are overweight. Gently run your hands along their body, feeling for any excess fat deposits. A healthy cat should have a smooth and firm body contour. 
  3. Difficulty Feeling Ribs: When you lightly run your fingers along your cat's ribcage, you should be able to feel their ribs without pressing too hard. If you have difficulty feeling their ribs or if they are completely hidden under a layer of fat, it may indicate that your cat is overweight. 
  4. Loss of Waistline: A noticeable loss of waistline or a rounded appearance when viewed from above can be a sign of excess weight. A healthy cat should have a distinct waistline behind the ribs when viewed from above. 
  5. Difficulty Grooming: Cats are meticulous groomers, but overweight cats may have difficulty reaching certain areas of their body to groom properly. You may notice mats, dirty fur, or a greasy coat. If your cat's grooming habits have changed or if their coat appears unkempt, it could be a sign of excess weight. 
  6. Reduced Activity Level: If your cat has become less active and spends more time sleeping or resting, it could be due to excess weight. Overweight cats may have difficulty engaging in physical activities and may show a decreased interest in playtime or exercise. 
  7. Laboured Breathing or Lethargy: Excess weight can put strain on your cat's respiratory system, leading to laboured breathing or panting, especially after minimal physical exertion. If your cat seems lethargic or tires easily, it may be a result of carrying extra weight. 

Steps you Can Take if your Cat is Overweight 

  1. Consult with a Veterinarian: If you observe one or more of the signs above in your cat, the first important step is to consult with a veterinarian. They can perform a thorough examination, assess your cat's body condition, and provide guidance on a suitable weight loss plan. It's important to involve a veterinarian in the process to ensure that any underlying health conditions are addressed and that the weight loss plan is safe and effective for your cat. 
  2. Adjust Their Diet: Diet plays a crucial role in managing your cat's weight. Your veterinarian may recommend a specific weight loss diet that is lower in calories and fat. Avoid crash diets or drastically reducing their food intake, as this can be harmful to their health. Instead, focus on portion control and feeding them a balanced and nutritious diet. Measure their food carefully and avoid leaving food out all day. Consider feeding them smaller, more frequent meals to help them feel satisfied. 
  3. Monitor Treats and Table Scraps: Treats and table scraps can contribute to weight gain in cats. Limit the number of treats you give your cat and opt for low-calorie options. You can also try using their regular kibble as treats during training sessions. Avoid feeding them from the table or sharing your own meals, as human food can be high in calories and may not provide the necessary nutrients for a cat's diet. 
  4. Encourage Exercise: Regular exercise is essential for weight management in cats. Engage your cat in interactive play sessions using toys that encourage them to move and jump. Provide them with scratching posts, climbing trees, or other vertical spaces to encourage physical activity. Consider using puzzle toys or food-dispensing toys to make mealtime more engaging and mentally stimulating. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of exercise sessions to help your cat burn calories and shed excess weight. 
  5. Create a Stimulating Environment: A stimulating environment can help prevent boredom and encourage physical activity in cats. Provide them with toys, scratching posts, and perches to keep them engaged and active. Consider rotating their toys to keep things interesting. You can also create vertical spaces or install window perches to allow them to observe the outside world, which can provide mental stimulation and entertainment. 
  6. Monitor Progress: Regularly monitor your cat's progress throughout their weight loss journey. Weigh them regularly to track their weight loss and consult with your veterinarian to ensure they are on the right track. Keep a record of their weight and any changes in their diet or exercise routine. Adjust their weight loss plan as needed based on their progress and any recommendations from your veterinarian. 
  7. Be Patient and Consistent: Weight loss in cats takes time, and it's important to be patient and consistent with their weight loss plan. Avoid getting discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Stick to the recommended diet and exercise routine and continue to monitor their progress. Celebrate small milestones along the way and provide positive reinforcement for their efforts. 

If your cat is overweight, it's important to take action to help them achieve a healthy weight. Consult with a veterinarian, adjust their diet, encourage exercise, create a stimulating environment, monitor their progress, and be patient and consistent. Remember, weight loss should be gradual and done under the guidance of a veterinarian to ensure your cat's overall health and well-being. With your dedication and support, your cat can achieve a healthier weight and enjoy a happier and more active life. 

cat waiting for food
Balanced Diet for Cats

Learn how to give your cat a balanced diet for optimal health and well-being.

cat treats
Cat Treats: Do's and Don'ts

Choose high-quality cat treats for your feline friend's health and happiness.

overweight cat playing with ball
How To Help An Overweight Cat

Winter weight gain is common in pets, including cats. Learn how to prevent it.