Many pet owners are unsure how to determine if their cat is indeed overweight. We’re here to make this simple.
There are many benefits (for both you and your cat) that come with having your cat at their ideal weight. They are more easily mobile, have less pressure of their joints, can groom more easily and are less predisposed to several health conditions such as liver disease and Diabetes mellitus. They’re also shown to live longer. In cats, a study has shown a 2.8-fold increase in mortality in obese 8-12 year old cats compared to lean cats*
We (vets) use a body condition score system to assess your pets weight as this more accurately indicates their size over numbers. In their ideal weight range you can feel the ribs quite easily, you can’t always see them due to some fat coverage. You can see the waist slightly (from above) and abdomen is tucked up (from the side). Check out the infographic below.
If your cat is falling in the over ideal category, they need help! In this case you need to work with your vet to move them slowly into the ideal category so that they can live their best life.
This means a slow reduction of food (straight up 10% less, and vary this depending on the response), and a slow increase in activity and stimulation (individual requirements depend on concurrent conditions such as arthritis, heart disease etc). If a reduction in the food they are already on isn’t effective, we can look at lower energy diets to try.
Two things are essential to monitor for weight loss:
1- Measure the amount of food given daily (if we don’t know the exact amount, we can’t make small changes). This can be as easy as drawing a line on a cup to measure the fill.
2- Invest in scales – although we’ve said the body condition is more important than numbers, once we’ve identified we need some weight loss, numbers are the easiest way to track where we are at weekly and what changes we need to make.
*1 Scarlett JM, Donoghue S. Associations between body condition and disease in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1998;212:1725–1731.