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What is a healthy weight for a cat?

What is a healthy weight for a cat?
Photo Credit: Found Animals Foundation via cc

How can you tell whether your cat is overweight or not?
Here are a few ways to help you check your cats weight.

It’s common knowledge that some indoor cats can put on weight easily than outdoor cats, especially if they are not as mobile as they should be. Outdoor cats have the advantage of the garden and neighbourhood to enable them to have their daily ‘work out’ by climbing, leaping, playing and running.
An indoor cat on the other hand, will only have your home to explore, so it’s vital that you provide them with many opportunities so they can jump, leap, play and exercise. By adding a large cat tower or activity tree to their environment can be beneficial to them. Allocating interactive playtime with yourself and your indoor cat during the day is also essential. This will not only keep your indoor cat active but it will also provide them with mental stimulation too.
If you have the space and finance you can even introduce another cat playmate by rehoming another indoor cat. They can play with one another and keep each other company, especially when you are not at home. An indoor cat can be taken outdoors to exercise too. You can also train your indoor cat to walk on a leash and harness which will enable you to walk them around the park or neighbourhood regularly.
If an indoor cat is not properly exercised then they can easily pile on the ounces and even the pounds!

What are the dangers if your cat is overweight?

overweight and obese cats are in danger of sufferring from many serious health issues
You may think that a little extra weight on your cat is no big issue. A couple of extra pounds on your cat is not like an extra couple of pounds on a human. Obesity in cats can be serious and lead to a whole range of health issues.
Diabetes mellitus, arthritis, heart and respiratory disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, skin problems, some forms of cancer and a shorter life span are just some of the risk factors that come with feline obesity.
You obviously love your cat and want to have them for as long as possible, so it’s important that you keep an eye on their weight, especially if they are an indoor cat. But how do you know what the ideal weight for your cat actually is? Obviously your vet will be able to advise you on this at your cat’s medical check up, but if you are unsure you can ask them prior to that for any advice.
Photo Credit: Charles Nadeau via cc

So what is a healthy weight for an indoor cat?

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the following weight ranges are appropriate for healthy cats. As we mentioned earlier a couple of extra pounds on a cat is not good. With an animal as small as a cat, even a couple of pounds of extra weight can make a big difference in its overall health. If you are concerned, it is always best to check with your veterinarian.
Below is a short guide to the ideal weight of a cat:
  • Domestic cat: 8-10 lbs
  • Persian cat: 7-12 lbs
  • Siamese cat: 5-10 lbs
  • Maine coon cat: 10-25 lbs

So how can I weigh my cat at home?

weigh you and your cat together, then subtract your solo weight to get the weight of your cat
Well we know that getting your cat to stand on some weigh scales is virtually impossible, but there is a handy way to measure their weight. First of all you measure yourself. Using a good set of digital scales is recommended as they can be more accurate. After weighing yourself make a note of the measurement. Then hold your cat then weigh yourselves together. Then subtract your solo weight from you and your cats combined weight and you should end up with a correct measurement of their weight.

Are there other ways to determine whether your indoor cat is overweight?

As well as weighing your cat, there are other ways to determine whether your cat is overweight or not. Here are a few observational tips to follow. These simple observations are usually used by your vet as they carry out your cats overall health check up.
Can you feel your cat’s ribs? – You should be able to feel each rib distinctly with just a little fat covering beneath the skin. If your cat’s ribs are visually protruding, your cat is too thin. If you cannot feel his ribs at all, your cat is obese.
When you look at your cat from above, can you see his waist? – A cat’s waistline should go inwards. If your cat does not have a distinct waist or if it protrudes outwards, it is likely that your cat is overweight.
Check the bony areas of your cat’s body. – You should be able to feel the bones of the spine, shoulders, hips and base of the tail. There will be a slight fat covering, but the bones should feel prominent.
When you view your cat from the side, does it have an abdominal tuck? – Is the diameter of the cat’s waist smaller than its ribcage? If so, your cat is within a healthy weight range. If the waist is the same size or larger than the ribcage, your cat is likely to be carrying extra weight.

Body Condition Scoring your cat

There are a few versions of the ‘body condition scoring scale chart’ around and it’s these charts which are used to assess your pets weight. Some scale from 1-9 whereas some range from 1-5. Your cat’s ideal weight is usually somewhere in the middle region.
Below is an example of one of the body scoring charts for cats.
Body Condition Scoring Chart to help you assess your cat's weight

Body Condition Check for your cat – video

Below is a helpful video on how to assess your cat’s weight using the Body Condition principle. It’s a very ‘hands on’ procedure, so make sure you carry out the check in a safe environment and ideally on a low table. Your cat may not like their tummy touched, so take care when checking out their stomach area.

What should you do if you discover your indoor cat is overweight?

If you discover that your cat maybe overweight, then you should make an appointment to see your vet. Don’t leave it until their next check up. Not only will they confirm your findings, but they will help formulate an eating plan for you to follow. Following this diet should get your cat’s weight back on track. Your vet will also check to see if your cat is healthy enough to begin this new diet.

What will your indoor cat’s new eating plan consist of?

your cats daily food intake should be the right amount for their size and breed
Just like humans, if cats eat more and burn less calories then they are prone to put on weight. This is more common with house and indoor cats than those who go outdoors regularly. Your vet will advise you on how much to cut his calories intake. Your vet may even suggest a lower calorie food option. Your cat will also have to partake in a lot more exercise than they did previously so it will be up to you to get them moving.
It’s not all that easy to encourage your cat to exercise but invest your time in playing with them. Play with their favourite toy or whizz a laser flash pointer around the room, to get them leaping and moving about.
Your cat’s weight loss will take time, so be patient and keep to their eating plan. Healthy eight loss happens very slowly. Your vet will give you an idea of how much weight your cat needs to lose and how long it will take.

What are other ways of getting my indoor cat moving and exercising?

There are numerous ways of getting your cat moving and exercising. You can introduce lots of play and also furnish your home with an activity tower or activity tree. The various heights on the tower or tree resemble an outdoor tree and it will get your cat up and down and moving in no time.
Read our article on ‘Exercise tips for indoor cats’ for helpful tips and advice.