A simple guide on how to tell if your cat is underweight, overweight or their ideal weight
With our fluffy feline friends covered in lovely soft fur, it can be difficult to tell if the body underneath is a healthy size, or if they’ve been piling on or shedding too many pounds.
According to Cats Protection’s CATS (Cats and Their Stats) 2022 report, owners are less likely to think that their cat is an ideal weight this year (26%), compared to 2021 (29%).
More owners now think that their cat is underweight (38%), up from 35% in 2021, and 30% of owners recognise their cat as overweight.
However, these figures are owner-reported. Vet-reported figures for feline obesity in the UK vary, with some studies finding up to 44% of cats are overweight.
So how do you tell if your cat is a healthy weight? The best thing to do is take them to a vet who can examine them and give you an accurate assessment of their health.
However, it’s also a good idea to monitor your cat’s weight at home in between vet visits, so you can spot any big changes in their size early.
How much should my cat weigh?
The average weight for a moggy is approximately 4kg (9lb) but this can vary depending on a number of factors. Your vet will be able to tell you what weight is healthy for your cat.
Weighing your cat at home can be tricky, as they may not be willing to stand still on the scales. The best method is to stand on the scales yourself while you’re holding your cat or place your cat in a carrier on the scales, then you can subtract your weight or the weight of the carrier from the reading to get your cat’s weight.
How do I tell if my cat is underweight?
If your cat is 10% under their ideal weight then they are classed as underweight.
If your cat is underweight:
- you will be able to see their ribs and spine, especially if they have short fur
- their waist will very obviously tuck in behind their ribs when you look at them from above
- their belly will clearly tuck up behind their ribs when you look at them from the side
- you won’t be able to feel a layer of fat over their ribs and spine when you stroke them
How do I tell if my cat is overweight?
If your cat is 10% over their ideal weight then they are classed as overweight. If they are more than 20% over their ideal weight then they are obese.
If your cat is overweight:
- they will have no obvious waist and their belly may bulge out from behind their ribs
- their belly will be rounded and may even have a ‘pad’ of fat that sags down
- it will be difficult, and maybe even impossible, to feel their ribs beneath their fur, due to fat covering them
- their backbone may be covered with large fatty deposits and so cannot be felt or seen
How do I tell if my cat is the correct weight?
If your cat is their ideal weight:
- their waist should tuck in slightly behind their ribs when you look at them from above
- their belly should be tucked up slightly behind their ribs when you look at them from the side
- you should be able to feel your cat’s ribs easily as there is minimal fat cover
- you should be able to feel their backbone under a thin covering of fat, but not see it
Being overweight or underweight can lead to health problems for your cat, so if you’re concerned about a change in their weight then speak to your vet for advice. You can also find tips for feeding your cat a healthy diet on our website.