Have you noticed your cat looking chubbier than usual? Maybe you’re suspicious that your cat has put on some weight. If you’re not really sure if your cat is overweight or “just right”, we’re here to help!
As a cat ages, it’s common for it to put on a little added weight. Maybe your cat isn’t as active as he used to be or maybe he seems to be eating more food than normal. A cat’s metabolism slows down as it ages, just like what happens to us humans. This means that the more food your cat eats as he ages, the fewer calories he’ll burn, which can result in weight gain if he’s not active enough.
The exact amount of calories an individual animal needs to maintain a healthy weight is variable and influenced by many factors including genetics, age, breed, and activity level. This tool is meant to be used only as a guideline for healthy individuals and does not substitute veterinary advice
Ways to Tell If Your Cat Is Fat
Now that you know the “skinny” about a cat’s metabolism, let’s move on to determining whether or not your cat is fat. Since you live with your cat, it can be difficult to know if he’s slowly packing on the pounds. It can be even trickier to know if your cat has long fluffy hair.
Maybe you’d be shocked to learn that the ideal weight for a cat can range from 5 to 25 pounds, depending on what type of cat it is. To get around all the confusion, we’ve put together a few tried and true ways to determine if your cat is overweight or not.
Run Your Hands Along Your Cat’s Rib Cage & Spine
Start by placing the palms of your hands on the sides of your cat and run them along his back and rib cage. You should be able to feel your cat’s spine and ribs as you do this. An overweight cat will have extra fat in these areas, making it impossible to feel the bones.
View Your Cat From Overhead
When you stand over your cat and look down, you should see an indentation between the rib cage and the back legs. If your cat is fluffy and you can’t tell if there’s an indentation present, use your hands to feel for it. A fat cat won’t have any noticeable indentation.
Get a Side View
When looking at your cat from the side, he should have an upward slope to his back from the rib cage to the hips and not a round saggy belly. It is normal for an older cat to have a slightly saggy belly, but it should not be round and puffy.
Risks Fat Cats Face
A cat that’s too heavy can face many risks. First, a fat cat will find it more difficult to move with ease. Added weight can also put a cat’s joints under a lot of strain. Some of the most common health risks faced by obese cats include:
In a nutshell, overweight cats face many health risks and a higher mortality rate so it’s always best to help your cat maintain a healthy weight.
Helping Your Cat Lose Weight
It’s much easier to help a dog lose weight than a cat because dogs can be taken for walks & runs and are willing to play and romp in the yard. A cat simply isn’t wired that way, so you’ll have to be more creative in amping up your feline’s activity levels.
A good starting point is to make time every day to play with your cat. Use his favorite toys that encourage some movement. Good choices are feather toys, paper bags, boxes, and balls.
Another idea is to move your cat’s food bowl further away from his favorite area to hang out, so he has to walk more. Just use your imagination to get your feline moving more. If you have kids, ask them to play with the cat and to call it now and then so it must walk through the house more.
You can also help your cat drop some weight by feeding him frequent small meals instead of leaving his food bowl full all day. If your cat likes to beg for food between meals, give him affection instead and stick to a strict feeding schedule. A good rule of thumb is to feed him four to six smaller meals a day.
The Cat Food Matters!
The type of food you feed your cat plays a major role in keeping weight under control. If you’re currently feeding your cat a high-calorie, high-carb cat food, switch to a weight control cat food that has fewer calories and carbs. If your cat is a picky eater, try feeding him a weight control wet cat food that’s more enticing to finicky cats.
Cut Back on Treats
Cat treats are often loaded with fats and calories. If you’re used to giving your cat some treats, cut back on how often you do so. If your cat begs for a treat now and then, try substituting a cuddle session for the snack and see what happens. You may be surprised to learn that your cat wants your attention more than he wants a cat treat so good luck!
No More Table Scraps
Keep your cat away from you when you’re eating so you’re not tempted to toss a few morsels down on the floor. Even if you tend to share healthy food with your cat, calories add up quickly! With time, your cat will accept the fact that you’re not sharing your food with him anymore so be patient!
As you can see, it’s possible to determine if your cat is overnight or not. If you discover that your cat is chubby, follow the advice above to trim him down.
If you need more tips for helping your cat lose weight, your veterinarian will surely help so don’t hesitate to ask! Once your cat drops some weight, he’ll be a happier pet and one that faces fewer health risks.
Featured Image Credit: Cattrall, shutterstock