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Body Condition Scoring your cat.

Body Condition Scoring your cat is a great way to assess their weight
Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski via cc

Using a Body Condition Scoring system will help you to assess your cat’s weight and help maintain it at an ideal level.

When you take your cat or dog for their regular check up at the vet, the vet will most probably assess your pets weight in a number of ways. They will most probably weigh them on the scales or they may use the body condition scoring scale which will also help them assess your pets weight.

What is Body Condition Scoring in Cats?

Body condition scoring allows you to assess the amount of fat your cat is carrying. It is fairly easy to do at home without the use of weighing your cat (which can be tricky). Body Condition Scoring is really very simple set of levels of cat weight. It uses a scale of 1-9, with 1 being very underweight and 9 being very overweight. Using the 1-9 Body Condition Chart a score of 5 is considered ideal.
We have included a version of the 1-9 Body Condition Scoring Chart below.
There are many versions of this body condition scoring scale, some may only include five levels instead of the nine. Which ever one you use, your cats weight should be somewhere around the middle scale. Maintaining your cat’s level of weight around the ideal scale will ensure they live a healthy life and will lessen the risk of weight related health issues like diabetes and arthritis.

How do I check the Body Condition Scoring on my cat?

To carry out a body condition scoring check on your cat you need to do a rib check, profile check and an overhead check
It is very easy to carry out a body condition check on your cat. Below is some east steps to follow, or check out the video. To work out your cat’s individual body-condition score, you will need to do three checks:
1. Rib Check: You will need to run your palms along your cat’s ribcage on either side
2. Profile Check: You will need to view your standing cat from a side-on angle. This is how you will see their side profile. This is best done on a level with your pet. Standing them on a work counter is ideal.
3. Overhead Check: For this check you will need to look down, at your standing cat from overhead.

What should I be looking for when Body Condition Scoring my cat?

In an ideal body condition, your cat’s ribs can be felt without excess fat covering them. When your cat is viewed from above their waist should be easily visible. They should have an ‘hour glass’ shape. And when your cat is viewed from the side, their abdomen should be tucked up towards the pelvis.

Video on the Body Condition Scoring check on a cat.

Below is a short yet helpful video on how to check your cat’s weight, using the Body Condition Scoring principle. This simple check up is a very ‘hands on’ procedure, so make sure you carry it out 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 are the various scales in the Body Condition Scoring?

The following Body Condition Scoring Chart is based in a series of various weight levels. This particular scoring chart includes the 1-9 scale. An ideal cat’s body weight should be around number 5.

What should I do if I discover my cat is overweight?

Should I still neuter, vaccinate and microchip my indoor cat?
If you have followed the Body Condition Scoring system and discovered that your at may be a bit overweight, don’t panic! The first thing you should do is consult your vet, and don’t leave it until your cat’s next check up in 3 months time. Deal with it now. Ask your vet for advice on how to get your cat to an ideal weight. Your vet will suggest a new eating plan and plenty of activity and exercise, especially if your cat remains indoors. It’s usually best for your cat’s extra weight to come off gradually, so be patient and follow the vet’s advice carefully.
When you have got your cat to their ideal weight, you will then have to ensure that your cat maintains it. Your vet will help with this aftercare too. Just like us humans, our pets can gain weight, but because a little on us does little harm, a little on your pet is a serious matter.
The Body Condition Scoring principle is a good way to keep an eye on your indoor cat’s weight.
Photo Credit: Paul L Dineen via cc