The ideal cat weight: how to tell if you have an overweight or obese cat
It’s sometimes very tempting to treat our cats to extra food and treats, and because we see them every day it’s difficult to notice changes in their weight. Let’s take a look at how to spot if your cat is overweight.
Why is maintaining a healthy weight so important?
Obesity causes health problems in cats, similarly to humans. Overweight cats can be at risk of:
- Pancreatitis (a painful condition caused by a high-fat diet)
- Arthritis/joint problems
- Skin sores
By keeping an eye on your cat’s weight, you will lower their risks of these problems and keep them a lot healthier.
It varies depending on the breed but for most domestic cats, you can take 10 pounds (4-4.5 kg) as an ideal weight. Certain larger breeds can weigh as much as 25 pounds (11 kg) and smaller breeds can weigh as little as 5 pounds (2.2 kg).
Take a look at our cat weight chart below for a clearer picture.
How to spot an overweight cat?
There are tests you can do on your own to determine whether your cat is at an ideal weight. Firstly, do they look overweight? Does their belly sag in any way or are they visibly different in appearance to other cats? If this is hard to spot because you see your cat every day, ask your friends or family to see if they can notice a difference.
Other tests can include:
- When you run your fingertips along your cat’s side, can you feel their ribs?
- Is their spine noticeable?
- Can you feel their shoulder bones?
- Based on our cat weight chart, how does your cat’s appearance compare?
If your answer to these questions is yes, your cat is likely at a healthy weight. If the ribs, spine and shoulder bones are overly visible however, there is a chance your cat is underweight.
If you struggle to feel your cat’s bones or can detect a layer of fat above them, your cat may be overweight.
How do I get an obese or overweight cat down to a healthy cat weight?
Cut down on treats and avoid feeding them human foods altogether. Make sure your cat is on the correct diet for their life stage. If appropriate, a neutered or senior cat diet will provide better calorie control. If your cat is obese, speak to your vet or registered veterinary nurse about weight loss diets: these provide all the required proteins, vitamins and minerals while reducing calories. Remember, when changing any diet, introduce the new food gradually over the course of about a week. For more info on the best diet for cats, click here.
Puzzle feeders can also be a great help. Making your cat work for their food rather than simply presenting it to them is more representative of the life they’d lead in the wild, and will keep their minds occupied too, as well as helping them to burn calories.
Try some good old-fashioned exercise! Increased activity, which you can bring about by playing games with your cat, will help your cat burn calories and will strengthen the bond between pet and owner too. Cats like to play before eating because this mimics natural hunting behaviours.
Need more advice?
Before making any big decisions about your cat’s weight and how to act, it’s a good idea to take them to see the vet or registered vet nurse. They will be able to conduct a proper weight check and to give advice on diet and exercise that is tailored to your specific cat. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.