Is my cat overweight?
It’s hard not to spoil our cats by showering them with all the things they love -- noggin scratches and cuddles, and oftentimes food and special treats. But the next time you reach for those snacks, you might want to think twice. Obesity in cats can be a real problem, and might even lead to other health risks.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 60% of cats in the United States were overweight or obese in 2018. Obesity in cats can happen because of overfeeding, a lack of exercise, or because of other health-related factors that may cause your cat to keep weight. Whatever the problem, it’s important to find the root cause and try to fix it, since excess fat in cats can cause orthopedic issues, skin disorders, kidney problems, chronic inflammation and much more. It could even shorten your cat’s lifespan.
How to assess your cat's weight
When you look at your cat, you should be able to see their waistline from a top view as well as a slight upward indentation from a side view. When petting your cat’s side, if you cannot feel any ribs, or you notice a pronounced “pooch” from a side view, your cat may have extra weight on them.
However, based on your cat, it may be difficult to tell if your cat is overweight by simply looking at them, which is where actual numbers, and the help of your veterinarian, come in. While weight ideals can vary based on your cat’s breed and other factors, the ideal weight for the average adult cat is between eight and 15 pounds. Cats of a healthy weight should be able to move around with ease and they will enjoy activities like playing and chasing.
If you’re unsure about your cat’s weight, you can use this healthy pet weight calculator as a gauge, and if you’re concerned about your cat’s heaviness, or if you find your cat nearing the 10 to 18 pound range (again, based on breed), consult with your veterinarian.
What to do if your cat is overweight
If it turns out your cat is overweight, figuring out a plan to fix the problem will ultimately start with determining the reason behind your cat’s weight gain. The following are some of the main reasons why a cat could become overweight:
Even if your cat is eating a normal amount of food (again, your veterinarian will help you determine what ‘normal’ is for your cat, but generally speaking, somewhere between 24 and 35 calories a day per pound is recommended), the type of food may be impacting your cat’s overall weight. Always consult with your veterinarian before switching your cat’s food, but if type of food is the problem, you might consider putting your cat on a weight management diet, or your veterinarian may prescribe a specific diet cat food formula.
Let’s face it —cats aren’t usually the most active creatures. While it’s totally normal for your cat to spend the majority of their day lounging and relaxing, it is ideal for your cat to play for at least a half hour a day. If your cat seems uninterested in play, it may just be time to find an interactive cat toy that actually engages them.
If your cat is already eating the recommended amount of quality food and they do seem to have enough exercise but weight is still an issue, it’s time to consult with your veterinarian. They can run some tests to ensure that the root cause of your cat’s weight problem isn’t an underlying health issue.
How to choose the right food to manage your cat's weight
Nutrition is the foundation of a healthy weight for your cat. Luckily, there are now a number of food options available today that were developed with your cat's healthy weight in mind.
Petco's picks for nutrition to help manage your cat's weight
While showering your cat with treats and food and love and affection is likely all you want to do, if your cat is exhibiting signs of weight issues, it might be time to pull back a bit. Remember, treats for your cat should only account for up to 10% of their overall diet. Once you figure out the ultimate reason behind your cat’s weight gain, you can start figuring out ways to fix the problem so that your cat can get back to an optimal weight and start living their healthiest, happiest lives.