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Is your cat overweight?

28 September 2019
Obesity in cats can be hugely detrimental to health which is why knowing when your pet is carrying excess weight is so important. Sometimes, particularly when weight gain is gradual, you get so accustomed to seeing your pet looking a certain way that you don’t stop to question it.

According to International Cat Care, between 39 and 52 per cent of cats in the UK are overweight or obese. A cat is typically classified as ‘overweight’ when they are 10 to 19 per cent heavier than their ideal weight. Obesity comes when the weight exceeds 20 per cent more.

Although it is always best to get your cat examined by a vet if you suspect they are overweight, there are things you can look out for yourself. You can also feel to see if your cat is chunkier than he should be, and here’s how:

  • Have a look at your cat side-on. You shouldn’t be able to see the ribs, but you should be able to feel them. If you find you have to press quite firmly on the ribcage before feeling anything, your cat is overweight.
  • Viewing your cat side-on should also reveal the ‘abdominal tuck’ which is where the ribcage tapers to the hips. If there is no evident taper behind the ribs and the torso is square, your cat is probably overweight.
  • Press gently at the base of the tail and see if you can feel bone. It shouldn’t be really prominent, but you should be able to feel it there, without a pad of fat on top of it.
  • Lots of people consider the Primordial Pouch to be a result of weight change – whether loss or gain, but actually it is quite normal and shouldn’t cause concern. The Primordial Pouch is the loose pouch of skin that hangs just in front of the back legs and feels completely empty. Sometimes overweight cats will store fat here, so if the pouch does start to fill out, then you might want to consider helping your cat shed some pounds.
The ideal weight of a cat will vary depending on its age and breed, so research your particular breed’s optimal weight and then do a weigh-in, or ask your vet to help.

If on the other hand, you notice your cat losing weight without obvious cause, consult your vet as soon as possible. It may be that your cat has dental issues which are preventing him from eating, or even worms. There is also the possibility that something more serious is at play, and so you should always get your cat checked by the vet to make sure.