Just an extra pound or two can impact your cat’s health
Excess weight can lead to less play time, depression and increased risk of several serious health conditions. Unfortunately, weight gain often takes place gradually over time, so it’s not always obvious when it’s time to take action.
Overweight cats can have an increased risk of developing serious health conditions
How to tell if your cat is overweight
Your cat may look just fine to you, but the ideal weight varies by size and breed. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if your cat is overweight.
Signs that your cat may be overweight include:
- Loss of an obvious waist
- Collar needs loosening
- Slow movement
- Shortness of breath
- Bad temper
Check your cat’s weight now
Between check-ups, you can perform a simple test to see if your cat is maintaining a healthy weight. Place your hands on your cat’s side — are their ribs hard to feel or even impossible to feel? If so, they are likely overweight.
Signs your pet is emaciated:
The ribs, spine and hip bones are visible from a distance, and there is no discernible body fat.
Signs your pet is healthy weight:
The ribs can be easily felt without excess fat, and you can see the waist behind the ribs from above. Abdominal tuck is present.
Signs your pet is overweight:
You can’t feel ribs because they are covered in fat. Large fat deposits are over the neck, chest, spine and base of tail. Both waist and abdominal tuck are absent.
Still not sure?
Take our L.O.V.E. test to find out. You’ll even receive a personalized weight report for your pet to share with your vet.
Why being overweight matters
Excess weight gain can significantly shorten your cat’s life expectancy as compared to a healthy weight pet.
Overweight cats can also have an increased risk of developing serious health conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, urinary stones, heart disease, breathing difficulty and even bladder cancer.
What causes weight gain in cats?
Cat weight gain is the result of an increase in body fat. This is usually caused by eating too much, especially when combined with a lack of exercise, but there can be other contributing factors:
Older cats are often less active and require fewer calories, which is why nutrition formulated for their age is vital to their weight and overall health.
Different cat breeds can have different metabolisms, which means some breeds are more likely to become overweight.
Neutering / Spaying
Clinical studies have shown that the energy requirements of neutered cats are lower, and they require fewer calories.
Very occasionally, weight gain is associated with a medical disorder that may require specific treatment.
Consuming more calories than necessary can contribute to weight gain. This can be due to unlimited or inconsistent portions of food.
Feeding table scraps and “people food,” or too many treats, can lead to obesity.
Female cats are more likely to become overweight.
Lack of exercise
Too much food and too little exercise produces a typical result: obesity.
Taking steps toward weight loss
As well as feeding your cat the correct nutrition, promoting regular exercise will help with the process of healthy weight loss. Here are a few exercise and workout tips you and your cat can do together:
Playing with toys
Giving your cat some homemade or pet shop toys can encourage them to get moving.
Catching the light
Shine a white light on the walls and let your cat play. Be careful not to use a red light laser, though — it can damage your cat’s eyes.
Try taking your cat out for a walk on a harness. Cat harnesses are available from your pet shop. While you’re out, encourage your cat to jump and play using natural “toys” like piles of leaves.
Choosing the right cat food for weight management
Your cat’s diet is perhaps the single most important factor in helping them maintain an ideal weight. Ask your vet for a food recommendation for weight loss, including what food and how much, and do your best to stick to it.
This is key because once your cat has been overweight, they may be prone to weight gain. Your cat should have an ongoing weight management plan based on good nutrition, exercise, regular check-ups and weigh-ins.
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Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Liver & Chicken Entree Cat Food
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Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Medley Cat Food
Resources and tips
For more information on your cat’s condition — and to help provide them with the best care possible on the journey ahead — check out these helpful resources from our team of veterinarians.
Put your overweight cat on the road to recovery
If your cat is already having trouble with weight problems, there are plenty of things you can do to improve their condition.