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Noticed your cat gaining a few pounds? Being overweight can cause a lot of health problems for cats so it’s important to keep them a healthy weight. Find out more about cat obesity in our guide.

How much should my cat weigh?

Your cat’s ideal weight will depend on their individual circumstances, age, gender and breed. Your vet will be able to tell you what your cat’s ideal weight is, but as a general guide:

  • kittens will vary depending on age and breed – they’ll gain weight every month until they are fully grown
  • adult and senior cats can weigh between 3.6-4.5kg (depending on size and breed)

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to what cats should weigh. The only way to know exactly how much your individual cat should weigh is by speaking to your vet.

Is my cat fat?

How to tell if your cat is overweight isn’t just about reading the scales. An easy way to tell if your cat is overweight can be by looking at them. If your cat is overweight, you might notice:

  • their ribs. Or in this case, not. You should be able to feel your cat’s ribs with a little fat coverage, but if your cat is overweight you might struggle to feel them
  • their belly. An overweight cat may have a rounded belly when you look at them from the side, whereas a cat who is a healthy weight will have a slight tuck just after their ribs
  • their waist. Looking down at your cat, do they get bigger round the middle? A healthy cat will go in slightly at the waist
  • their back. You should never be able to see your cat’s spine, but for a healthy cat you’ll be able to feel it under a thin covering of fat. If your cat is overweight you may not be able to feel it at all

If you’re unsure, it’s best to ask your vet as they can weigh your cat properly and tell you how much they should weigh.

When is a cat considered overweight?

All cats will have an ideal weight, which is something your vet will be able to advise you on. There tends to be two categories when it comes to overweight cats:

overweight cats are usually defined as being more than 10% over their ideal weight

obese cats are more than 20% over their ideal weight

It’s important to make sure you take your cat for regular check-ups with your vet so they can keep an eye on their weight. Adult cats in particular are more likely to become overweight or obese than kittens or senior cats, so regularly monitor their weight and make sure you are feeding them correctly. Find out more about feeding your cat.

Health risks faced by overweight cats

If your cat is overweight or obese, it greatly increases their risk of certain health conditions, many of which can be life-limiting and require costly care going forward. It can also affect their ability to groom and general movement, both important for their natural behaviours.

Some health conditions cats are more at risk of if they are obese include:

  • diabetes
  • urinary conditions
  • arthritis (being overweight puts more pressure on their joints)

How to help your cat lose weight

If your cat is overweight, your vet will be able to give you tailored advice to help them lose weight. It’s important not to starve your cat or put them on an extreme diet that drastically reduces their food in one go as this can cause your cat to become very unwell.

To help your cat lose weight, your vet may recommend:

  • gradually reducing their daily allowance of food
  • cutting down on treats (or cutting them out completely)
  • regularly weighing your cat to track their progress
  • a special food to promote weight loss
  • exercise

Encouraging an overweight cat to exercise

Another way to help your cat lose weight is to encourage them to exercise more. Try putting their food in a feeding toy or scatter it around the house to encourage their natural hunting behaviours, or schedule in more playtime with their favourite toys.

Cats get bored easily, so try to rotate their toys or treat them to a few new ones to keep playtime interesting.

Find out more about playing with your cat

How to manage your cat’s weight in a multi-cat household

If you have more than one cat at home, it may be more difficult to manage their weight if one of them becomes obese. Make sure you feed the overweight cat in a separate room and throw away any uneaten food from other cats in the home.

If one of your cats is a grazer, try to keep their food out of reach of your overweight cat. You can do this by cutting a hole in a cardboard box too small for your overweight cat to get through but large enough for the other cat. You may need to help them learn the new location of their food. You can also use microchip feeders which only allow that cat to eat that food (you may still have to have separate feeding areas).

Cats are generally solitary, so living with other cats – even siblings – may be stressful. Stress may cause cats to overeat, while other cats may lose weight when stressed.

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