Is My Cat Overweight?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
Nailia Schwarz/Shutterstock

Cats are usually considered graceful, elegant, athletic, and slim animals. After all, they have that natural hunter’s instinct that makes them more inclined towards a more active lifestyle, as they go hunt for prey. However, that was before kitties became kings and queens of modern households. Now, most felines are accustomed to the boons of the good life and enjoy nothing more than to snooze and eat  kibble, graciously served by their slaves – I mean owners, oops.

As a result, these days cats are more often chunky and chubby than elegant and slender, which contributes to their cuteness but can, in some cases, be detrimental to a cat’s health. So, how exactly do you know if your cat is overweight and not just adorably well-padded? Let’s find out.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Overweight

Usually, all it takes to realize if your cat is overweight is a combination of simple visual observation and physical assessment. Take, for example, the Body Condition Score (BCS) that veterinarians use. This is a simple score system to get a basic assessment of a cat's weight. It typically ranges from 1 to 9, with 1 being emaciated, 5 being ideal, and 9 being obese. If your cat is rated as a 6 or higher, they are likely overweight. 

Of course, you can make this assessment on your own, without relying on scores. One of the key indicators of a chubby cat is the ribs. You should be able to feel your cat's ribs without pressing too hard. Gently run your hands along your cat's sides, just behind the front legs. If you can't feel the ribs or they're buried beneath a layer of fat, your cat may be overweight. The waist is also a good indicator. When you look at your cat from above, there should be a noticeable waistline between the ribcage and hips. If your cat's body looks more like a round tube than an hourglass, they might be overweight.

Next, it’s your kitty’s belly – you should examine it by viewing your cat from the side. There should be a slight upward slope from the chest to the hindquarters, indicating a "tucked" belly. If your cat's belly is sagging or level with the chest… Yup, you’ve guessed it, the answer is – they are probably overweight.

Another sign of your pet’s extra weight can be their energy levels – an overweight cat may be less active and tire easily. If your cat is less playful and spends most of its time resting, it could be due to excess weight. Similarly, a good way to promote weight loss in lazier cats is to offer physical activity they can’t resist – such as this indoor  cat running wheel

Self-grooming – or rather, the lack of it – is also a tell-tale sign of obesity in cats. Most cats tend to keep themselves clean and orderly. But cats that are overweight may have difficulty grooming themselves properly, especially in hard-to-reach areas like their lower back and hindquarters. You might even have to give your pet sanitary shaves with a quality cat trimmer until they get in good form. A cordless, compact hair clipper such as  this one is a fitting choice for most cats and can help with hygiene when they are too overweight to clean themselves.

In the end, however, it is always best to get the opinion of your veterinarian. So, if you're unsure about your cat's weight or concerned about their health, it's best to schedule an exam, as they can perform a thorough assessment, recommend a suitable diet, and provide guidance on weight management. Keep in mind that it's essential to address weight concerns promptly since obesity in cats can lead to various health problems, including diabetes, arthritis, and heart issues. Your veterinarian can help you create a weight management plan tailored to your cat's specific needs.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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