Most domestic cats should weigh between 8 and 10 pounds, although some breeds have larger ranges. For example, Persian and Siamese cats can range between 6 and 12 pounds, and Maine Coon cats can be normal at up to 25 pounds. But these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Obesity contributes to many medical conditions in cats such as diabetes, arthritis, heart and lung disease, high blood pressure, compromised immune function, and may even predispose them to certain types of cancer. It has been well documented that cats maintaining an ideal body weight live longer, and with less disease, than overweight cats.

Would you know if your kitty needed to slim down? Fat cats are so common that you might not even realize yours is on the portly side. But overweight and obese cats now outnumber those at a healthy weight, and vets are seeing more super-obese cats, too.

Ideal Weight For Cats

Most domestic cats should weigh about 10 pounds, though that can vary by breed and frame. A Siamese cat may weigh as few as 5 pounds, while a Maine Coon can be 25 pounds and healthy.

Your vet can let you know if your cat is overweight, but there are some signs you can look for on your own, says Melissa Mustillo, DVM, a veterinarian at A Cat Clinic in Maryland.

A Better Way to Determine Your Cat’s Ideal Weight

Although your veterinarian may have your cat step on the scale at her next appointment, they’ll use more than this number to assess her health. Veterinarians use a Body Condition System (BCS) to visually and physically assess whether your cat is too heavy or too thin.

What If My Cat Is Overweight?

If your cat is overweight, consider switching to a weight management cat food to help her achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

We also recommend consulting with your veterinarian to rule out any potential medical causes for her weight gain.

You may also want to incorporate more activity into your cat’s day-to-day life. See our article on helping cats lose weight for more tips.

What If My Cat Is Underweight?

Obesity is a concern with many cat breeds, but it’s possible for some cats to be underweight. This may be especially true if you’ve recently adopted a cat or taken in a stray.

If your cat’s BCS indicates she’s too thin, “Your veterinarian may recommend increasing the amount of food you’re feeding or suggest a higher-calorie food to help her gain weight,” says Dr. Harris. “Once she’s reached a healthy weight, an adult maintenance formula can help her maintain it long-term.”

It’s tempting to give your underweight cat as many calories as possible, regardless of the source. You don’t want to go overboard with treats right now, though. These can lack essential nutrients your cat needs and cause her to gain too much fat.

Don’t overlook exercise and activities, either. These are important to help your cat build muscle, which will help her gain weight in a healthy manner.

How Much Should My Cat Weigh?

It varies depending on the breed but for most domestic cats, you can take 10 pounds (4-4.5 kg) as an ideal weight. Certain larger breeds can weigh as much as 25 pounds (11 kg) and smaller breeds can weigh as little as 5 pounds (2.2 kg).

How To Spot An Overweight Cat?

There are tests you can do on your own to determine whether your cat is at an ideal weight. Firstly, do they look overweight? Does their belly sag in any way or are they visibly different in appearance to other cats? If this is hard to spot because you see your cat every day, ask your friends or family to see if they can notice a difference.

How Do I Get An Obese Or Overweight Cat Down To A Healthy Cat Weight?

Cut down on treats and avoid feeding them human foods altogether. Make sure your cat is on the correct diet for their life stage. If appropriate, a neutered or senior cat diet will provide better calorie control. If your cat is obese, speak to your vet or registered veterinary nurse about weight loss diets: these provide all the required proteins, vitamins and minerals while reducing calories. Remember, when changing any diet, introduce the new food gradually over the course of about a week.

What Are The Risks With Obesity?

Obesity shortens a cat’s life and makes them more likely to develop disease. Even being moderately overweight reduces a cat’s life expectancy. In cats, a 2.8-fold increase in mortality has been shown in obese cats (8-12 years old) compared to lean cats.

A large, lifetime study of Labrador Retrievers found that a moderately overweight group of dogs lived nearly two years less than their leaner counterparts. This is a sobering statistic as it was always accepted that heavy dogs lived a shorter time than lean dogs, but only by around 6-12 months. It is reasonable to expect we would see similar results in a study performed on overweight cats.

How Do I Adjust My Cat’s Meals To Help Him Lose Weight?

Once you have identified that your cat is overweight or obese, it is important to adjust feedings specifically for weight loss – using a specific nutritional product, portion, and meal frequency. There are scientifically formulated nutritional products to help with healthy and safe weight reduction in cats such as Hills® Prescription diet metabolic, Royal Canin® Satiety Support Weight Management and Purina Overweight Management®. It is not appropriate to simply reduce the volume of their current food. This will cause malnourishment over time.

What Are The Risk Factors For Obesity In Cats?

One study showed overweight cats were more likely to be neutered and male. Being overweight was also associated with diseases like diabetes, cancer, and skin problems. Indoor cats and those that are less active are also more likely to be overweight. While dry foods and diets that have more carbohydrates are often blamed for cats becoming overweight, several studies have shown that this is not true and that calorie intake is more important than the type of food.

Are High-Protein Weight-Loss Diets Ok For Cats?

Most commercial diets designed for weight loss in cats are high in protein to compensate for the fact that the cat will be eating few calories. However, each cat is an individual, so your veterinarian will assess your cat and likely perform health screenings such as bloodwork to determine the level of protein and other nutrients that are most appropriate for your cat.

My Cat Grazes Throughout The Day, Is That Ok?

Feeding unlimited amounts throughout the day is challenging because we don’t know how many calories the cat is eating. Unfortunately, there is no food that every cat can eat as much as they want and still lose weight. A way to start to address this issue is to measure the amount of food your cat eats in a day to determine how many calories he is eating (measure how much food you put out in the morning and see how much is left the next morning). This information will be extremely helpful to your veterinarian in designing a safe and effective weight loss program for your cat.  Measured amounts of dry food put out throughout the day can be an effective way to mimic your cat’s grazing patterns. This can be a big challenge when you have more than one cat. It will be necessary to feed your cats separately if one or more of them need to lose weight. There are lots of new electronic feeders that can make easy work of multiple small meals and feeding multiple cats.

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