It’s something to take seriously. Even just a couple of extra pounds can make your pet more likely to get some health problems such as type 2 diabetes and make others, like arthritis, worse. It can even keep them from grooming themselves properly. Keeping off excess weight should lead to a healthier, happier cat.

Whether you are a first cat parent or an experienced owner, you are probably wondering how you know if your cat is overweight or underweight? What does the average cat weigh, or if your cat is within a healthy weight range? At one point, you may be discussing how to maintain a healthy weight or reach the ideal weight of your cat with your veterinarian.

We know cats are typically small animals, but often we are unsure how much our beloved pets should weigh. Although your cat’s weight will naturally change over their lifetime, gaining or losing too much weight can pose problems for their health. 

If pet owners overfeed their cats or give them too many treats, this can lead to obesity, which often has long-lasting and serious effects on a cat’s health. However, if cats aren’t fed enough, or they lose weight quickly, this can also become a serious health issue. In this article, Whiskas investigate average cat weight, and how much you should feed your cat to ensure they stay in top condition.

Why Does Weight Matter?

When your cat is hovering by the treat canister, it’s easy to toss them a few extra goodies. But too many calories can slowly add up to extra pounds, and that can cause extra stress on the body. Overweight cats have a higher risk of conditions like diabetes, pancreatitis, arthritis, and skin and joint problems. On the other hand, a healthy diet with lots of cat-friendly activities can help your furry friend live a long and comfortable life that they deserve!

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.

What Is A Healthy Cat Weight?

It’s tempting to reduce all cats to the same standards—saying, for instance, that a healthy cat weight is around 10 pounds. Yet this isn’t an entirely effective way to determine health, owing to the fact that breed, age, and gender all play a factor. For instance, a 10-pound Maine Coon may be considered healthy (even petite for his breed!), while a 10-pound Bambino cat would be considered obese.

Instead, many veterinarians follow the Purina Body Condition Score (BCS), which basically boils down to using your eyes and your hands. The BCS describes three factors you’ll find in a cat with an ideal body condition:

  • Ribs that can be felt but are not highly visible (in short-haired cats, at least), with a small layer of overlying fat.
  • A clear waistline when viewed from above
  • A visible tummy tuck, when viewed from the side.

The Problem with “Average” Cat Weight

Resources listing an average weight or range may not take into consideration other factors that affect weight. Factors like breed, sex and spayed/neutered status could all have an impact.

For example, the weight range for a Siamese Cat is 8 to 15 pounds. Females typically weigh 8 to 12 pounds, however, while males can weigh 11 to 15. So, a 15-pound female Siamese would be overweight, whereas that size might be healthy for a male.

Those resources also don’t account for mixed breed cats. If your cat is a mix of two or more breeds, you may struggle to pinpoint an average weight or range for her. What then?

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.

Does the Average Healthy Cat Weight Vary Amongst Breeds?

The difference in body size between breeds of cat can be significant.

Some breeds, like the Abyssinian, are meant to be long and lithe with delicate features. These more petite cats can have a healthy body weight of as little as 7-8 pounds.

Maine Coon cats are bred to have a medium to large body frame with broad chests and strong features, and may have a healthy body weight of over 20 pounds.

The best way to learn if your cat is at a healthy weight is to work with your veterinarian. They can account for the variables (body frame, muscle mass and breed) in order to determine what your cat’s ideal healthy weight is.

 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.

Why Is A Healthy Cat Weight So Important?

Litter-Robot resident veterinarian Dr. Justine Lee sees a diabetic cat at least once a day in the ER. Why so often? Because there is a growing prevalence of insulin resistance secondary to obesity. 

It’s so important to work toward a healthy cat weight because overweight cats are at increased risk of the following serious medical conditions:

  • Diabetes mellitus 
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Urinary problems
  • Heart disease, and more

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