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How to Tell if Your Cat is Overweight

Updated on November 23, 2013
Who are you calling fat?
Who are you calling fat? | Source

Cats can be become overweight for a variety of reasons. These reasons include:

  • Overfeeding
  • Lack of exercise
  • Medical issues
  • Age

Learn how to successfully tell if you cat is overweight and what to do about it.

Is My Cat Overweight?

Cats who are carrying around too much weight often look fat. You will not be able to feel their spine or ribs if they are overweight. You will also not be able to see a “waist” on the cat.

Keep in mind that older cats can have looser skin. Check your cat when you pick him up.

Can you still feel his ribs and spine?

Even if there is loose belly skin, it doesn’t mean he is overweight.

Your vet can also tell you if she is carrying too many pounds.

Different breeds carry different ideal weights. Very furry cats may look overweight but are not.

If you suspect your cat is carrying around a few extra pounds, there are ways you can help your cat lose weight in a safe and healthy way.

Too Much Food

Very often the reason a cat is overweight is because of too much food. Some cats are very good at eating just what they need and others will graze all day if given the opportunity.

Since cats are naturally animals that tend to eat a bit and then go back for a bit more later, the best way to handle this is to put the food down for a few minutes several times a day.

But if you are not home during the day, you can still leave food out for your pet and help them lose weight.

You just need to switch to premium foods that make him or her feel fuller, faster.

Regulating the cat's food is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy weight.
Regulating the cat's food is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy weight. | Source

Choose Higher Quality Food

Quite simply, you get what you pay for when you are buying cat food. Higher quality food that has less fillers is also better for your cat.

They will eat less and feel fuller.

Consider brands like Iams, Science Diet and Blue. These brands tend be a higher quality food.

Avoid foods that have fillers or dyes.

Your vet may also carry premium prescription food that can help with weight loss and maintenance.

I like Science Diet W/D and have fed it to my cats for several years. My oldest cat is 15 and my youngest is a year and a half. Several of my cats eat often but the weight loss food contains more fiber. It fills them up faster so they naturally eat less.

Healthy Food Choices For Cats

Type of Cat
Where To Buy
Good Dry Food Choice
Good Wet/Canned Food Choice
Cat Under Seven
Grocery Store, Discount Chain, Amazon
Iams Premium Protection Adult Cat Food
Iams Proactive Health
Cat Over Seven
Grocery Store, Discount Chain, Amazon
Iams Premium Protection Mature Cat Food
Iams Proactive Health
Sensitive Cat
Grocery Store, Discount Chain, Amazon
Iams Sensitive Naturals
Purina Pro Plan Adult Extra Care
Cat Under Seven
Pet Supply Store, Amazon
Blue Buffalo Indoor Cat Dry Food
Hills Science Diet Adult Optimal Care
Cat Over Seven
Pet Supply Store, Amazon
Blue Buffalo Spa Select Mature Cat
Hills Science Diet Mature Active Longevity
Sensitive Cat
Pet Supply Store, Amazon
Science Diet Sensitive Stomach
Natural Balance Canned Cat Food Limited Ingredient Salmon and Green Pea
These are guidelines and suggestions. Only you and your vet can determine the best type of food for your cat's individual needs.

No Table Scraps

Most cat owners realize that table scraps and human food are not good for the cat.

Human food, including milk, is not digested very well by a cat and can cause stomach issues and nutritional deficits.

But human food can also be more calorie dense. Even a small piece of cheese can add too much to your cat's overall calorie count.

Avoid table food. If your cat begs while you are eating, consider giving him a small, healthy treat such as Greenies, or place him in another room until the meal is complete.

Exercise for Cats

As many cat owners will tell you, most cats do not do well walking on a leash (although there are rare exceptions).

So are there ways to get your cat to exercise more?

Many cats enjoy games. There are cat "fishing poles" with toys or feathers attached to the end. The cat owner can get the cat to chase the toy around.

There are also special treat balls where the owner can hide a treat and have the cat work and play to get it out. (Just be sure to choose premium treats).

If your cat is an over-eater, these treat balls can be especially enticing for him is he has had a reduction in food and is looking for something to snack on.

If your cat is older, he or she may just not be interested in play. If this is the case then changing the food to high fiber, premium food may be the best option.

Medical Issues That Cause Weight Gain

The most common medical issue that causes weight gain in cats is hypothyroid.

Although relatively rare in cats (hyperthyroid is more common), this is worth investigating if your cat is suddenly gaining weight (when he or she was regular size before) even though there have been no changes in food or eating habits.

Your vet can administer the test and prescribe medication for your cat.

The likelihood of this being the problem is pretty small but it can happen.

Cat Toys With Treats Inside May Encourage Exercise

Aging Cats and Weight Gain

As cats get older, they naturally sleep more and become less active.

If this reduction in activity causes your cat to gain weight, changing his or her food is the best option.

Many of the premium brands have food designed for mature cats.

If you do decide to change your cat's diet, remember that sudden changes in food can upset a cat's stomach and digestion.

You need to gradually add a little bit of the old food to their new food each day.

Adding the food in increments allows the cat to adjust to the new food and can also let you know if there are any problems or allergies

Why Your Cat Needs To Lose Weight

Overweight cats can face a range of health issues that can shorten their lifespan. These issues include feline diabetes, arthritis and respiratory problems.

While dieting is hard for anyone, the cat is dependent on you, as the owner, to make the right choices to help him live a long, healthy life.

It's easier than you think to help your cat look and feel better.


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    • LCDWriter profile image

      L C David 5 years ago from Florida

      Ha thanks Patriot Quest. You should take your act on the road. ;-)

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 5 years ago from America

      My cat is SOOOO FAT When she sits around the house..........she sits AROUND the house............My cat is soooo fat we had to fill the pool with kitty litter...........OK that's all the fat cat jokes I pun intended, LOL, informative hub, voted up

    • LCDWriter profile image

      L C David 5 years ago from Florida

      Thanks Vacation Trip!

    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 5 years ago from India

      Interesting and informative hub. Thanks for sharing.