- 1 How Heavy Should My Cat Be?
- 2 What is a feline body condition score?
- 3 How do I know if my cat is at the right weight?
- 4 How do I know if my cat is overweight?
- 5 How do I know if my cat is underweight?
- 6 What if my cat is overweight or underweight?
- 7 How can I help my cat lose weight?
- 8 How Much Should a Cat Weigh?
It is sometimes easier said than done to maintain your cat’s ideal weight. How Heavy Should My Cat Be? It’s often not as easy as just laying out some food for your cat to eat when it pleases. Many different factors can influence weight management, weight gain, or weight loss in a cat. Most often, cats tend to be overweight.
Obesity in cats is becoming more common, as is it in dogs and humans. A recent study published by the Association for the Pet Obesity Prevention says that “Obesity rates for U.S. pets remained relatively unchanged in 2018: 59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs was classified as overweight or obese”. It is a significant figure! As parents of cats, it is essential to know how to keep our cat in good shape to help her live a long and healthy life with us.
How Heavy Should My Cat Be?
A healthy adult cat weighs 8 to 10 pounds. But there are many factors to consider when determining a cat’s normal weight.
Here is some of them:
- Breed. Some cat breeds are naturally larger than others. This of course affects their weight. For example, a healthy Siamese cat will weigh less than a healthy Maine Coon cat.
- Age. Cats of different ages can have different weights. Typically, a young growing kitten will be slimmer and thinner, while a neutered, middle-aged cat will tend to be heavier. As cats grow older, they often lose muscle mass and fat, which reduces their weight.
- Gender. A cat’s gender also affects its weight. Males are usually larger than females, especially if they are not spayed prior to puberty.
- Diet. Your cat’s diet also plays a huge role in her weight. As with humans, a high-calorie diet promotes weight gain, and a low-calorie diet helps cats lose weight. There is also a wide variety of nutritional standards and ingredients that vary from diet to diet.
- Reproductive. The reproductive status of cats also affects their weight. If the cat is not neutered, its hormones will maintain a high metabolic rate, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. What’s more, non-neutered and non-neutered cats tend to be more active, which also helps. On the other hand, spayed and neutered cats are less active and have fewer sex hormones, so they tend to be overweight.
- Health. Your cat’s health will also play an important role. Cats are prone to a variety of medical conditions that can lead to weight loss or weight gain.
- Physical activity. The amount of exercise your cat does is another important factor in weight management. A more active cat will burn more calories and be able to maintain or lose weight. A less active cat will burn fewer calories and gain weight.
With so many factors involved in weight management, there is no ideal weight for every cat. Your cat has an ideal individual weight, and the best way to determine this number is by contacting your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will weigh your cat and perform a complete physical examination to assess your cat’s condition.
They will most likely use a cat’s body condition score to determine your cat’s body condition on a universal scale. If your cat is underweight or overweight, they will likely recommend blood tests or other diagnostic tests to check for underlying medical conditions.
Your veterinarian will be able to calculate your cat’s daily calorie requirement. Besides, your veterinarian will be able to determine how much weight your cat should gain or lose and how to adjust the calorie intake to meet those goals. Your veterinarian will advise and help you choose the right diet that best suits your cat’s needs.
What is a feline body condition score?
Feline Body score is a universal, standardized assessment system proposed by the Global Pet Obesity Initiative. Most veterinarians use this system to assess the body condition of a cat (or dog). It is a simple, accurate, effective, and consistent system that uses a scale of 1-9 to assess a cat’s body. The scale starts at 1 for emaciation, 2-3 for less than ideal, 4-5 for perfect body condition, 6-7 for overweight, and 8-9 for obesity. Veterinarians and pet owners can use this scale to assess their foster care and regularly monitor their weight. You can see a chart below.
How do I know if my cat is at the right weight?
A body condition score of 3 means your cat is at the ideal weight.
You should be able to quickly feel and count your cat’s ribs when you stroke them on the sides or rub gently with your fingers on the sides. There should be a minimum amount of fat above the ribs.
You should see the hourglass shape when you look at the cat from above. It includes a small notch near the midsection, which creates a well-groomed waist.
When you look at the cat from the side, you should see an excellent tummy tuck or a slight upward tilt of the belly as it goes towards the hips. You shouldn’t notice any fat pads on the back of your stomach.
How do I know if my cat is overweight?
A chubby kitten may look cute, but overweight kittens are more prone to diabetes, arthritis, respiratory disease, liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. Signs that your cat is overweight can be different, and your cat may have one, some, or all of these signs:
- Your cat’s body condition score is 6 or 5.
- You won’t be able to quickly grope or count your cat’s ribs when stroking them on the sides.
- The rib bones are covered with excess fat.
- You will notice that they are airship-shaped or circular when you look at them from above.
- They have a thick pad on their belly that moves when they walk or even touches the ground or drags when you look at them from the side.
How do I know if my cat is underweight?
As overweight or obese cat is unhealthy, so is a cat that is too thin. Medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and others can contribute to your cat’s inappropriate weight loss. Signs that your cat is underweight include:
- Your cat’s body condition score is 1-2.
- Your cat’s ribs are easy to see or count, no need to palpate or touch them.
- Fat on the ribs or abdomen is not palpable.
- The spine is pronounced and visible.
What if my cat is overweight or underweight?
After you receive an assessment of your cat’s body condition, you can work with your veterinarian to develop a plan to help your cat achieve its ideal weight. Barring health concerns (which should be addressed on your own), the program will include variables such as nutrition, including the type of food, how many calories, how much, and often to feed.
The plan will also take into account the duration and frequency of your cat’s exercise, as well as what activities she should or should not participate in. A general recommendation for cats is to play for three intense 5-minute intervals a day.
It would help if you discussed how much weight your cat should gain or lose and over what time. In general, cats can safely lose about 0.5–2% of their weight in one month. Ensure they don’t lose or gain too much weight too quickly, leading to other health problems.
How can I help my cat lose weight?
Helping a cat lose weight is very similar to helping a person lose weight. It all comes down to two key ingredients: diet and exercise. Start by looking for a healthy cat food brand that includes meat and vegetables in five main ingredients.
Healthy options include chicken, liver, salmon, duck, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes. Stay away from any foods with “by-products” or grains listed in the first five ingredients (such as corn, soy, white rice, rye, potatoes, or tapioca).
Then make sure you measure your cat’s portions. While it’s tempting to fill the cup and let your little guy be the judge, he’s just as bad at restraining himself as we humans are.
Take a look at the portion indicator on your cat’s food packaging. Find your cat’s ideal weight and serve a serving that matches the weight should be, not the current one.
If, after about 4-6 weeks, you do not notice a change in your cat’s weight, you may need to reduce the amount a little more. You can also use the pet weight calculator to estimate your pet’s daily calorie needs.
Finally, bring your furry friend to the treadmill. In the language of cats, this usually means yanking out the laser pointer. Plan your playtime every day and stick to it as if you were making an important meeting – because that’s what you need.
Help your cat burn a few extra calories by running around the living room with it. You can even get creative and set the runner over the sofa, under the coffee table, or on the cat tree. Keep him guessing, and both of you will have fun. (And yes, posting your cat’s fun workout on YouTube is encouraged.)
Maintaining a healthy cat weight shouldn’t be a problem. Determine what healthy portions your cat needs and add some exercise to your pet’s daily routine. Your feline will still sleep, rest and watch birds, but will do so in a healthy body that you both will enjoy for years to come.
How Much Should a Cat Weigh?
Spending some time researching your cat’s diet and weight is a crucial decision to make the difference between your cat’s life and death. Moreover, the quality and longevity of your cat depend on how well you understand the subject. So take the time to ask questions and talk to your veterinarian to come up with the best plan to help your kitten maintain an ideal weight.
For more useful information about your cat’s diet, see the article Can Cats Eat Nuts.