If you’re asking the question, your cat is probably leaning more towards the festively plump side of the scale. But how do we know for sure? Cats are meant to be lithe, slender, and slick. In the land of plenty overeating is not just a human problem. Our pets suffer from our bad habits too. There is no average weight for a cat. Depending on the breed, an average weight can be anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds. Don’t go by numbers but by the look and feel of the cat.
A healthy cat has a well-defined body and muscles. The chest will be deeper than the stomach, meaning the stomach should cave in slightly. While ribs shouldn’t be too pronounced, seeing some rib definition doesn’t mean the cat is malnourished. A cat with low body fat but good muscle mass might have a subtly outlined ribcage.
Assuming you’ve ruled out pregnancy, a cat with a barrel-shaped torso is most certainly overweight. Overweight cats will have an abdomen that drops to the level of the chest or below. Often, when the cat’s stomach starts to protrude she will waddle as she walks.
Faces aren’t always the best way to gauge a cat’s weight. Obese cats can have normal-sized heads and necks. Weight isn’t always distributed evenly around the cat. With that said, extra skin and fat around the jowls and neck is an indication of obesity.
Some cats are just big furry fluff balls, making it hard to see if they are obese. To check body mass, gently palpate your cat’s torso. You should be able to feel her ribs with soft pressure. Check her abdomen. Is it protruding or hanging down? Is there a lot of excess skin and fat? If you can gently pinch an inch, your cat is on her way to obesity.
Problems With Obese Cats
Obese cats are prone to health issues like what humans may fall victim to. Joint problems, labored breathing, and diabetes are only a few of the issues they may have. Of course, these illnesses can lead to more debilitating problems such as blindness and bladder infections.
Naturally, you should let your vet have the final say on whether your cat is overweight. A plan of action can then be determined based on how overweight she is. A diet change may be prescribed, as well as a strict calorie count. The vet can also give recommendations on increasing the cat’s activity level.
Diet is another story – cats are often finicky eaters. Finding a good lower-calorie food might be a process of trial and error. Don’t buy the 15-pound bag of premium cat food. Go for the smallest bags and get samples whenever possible. The lowest calorie dry foods are usually the ones that specially indicate “indoor” on the packaging.
Fortunately, cats don’t need as much exercise as dogs do in order to stay fit. There are so many toys and gadgets on the market that will pique your cat’s interest for hours. Gradually introduce diet and exercise to your cat. Sudden changes will stress your cat out and may induce other self-destructive behaviors that will be hard to get rid of.
By Gabrielle Allemeier
About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.