Preventing Obesity in Cats

Cat eating from bowl

How to Help Your Cat Maintain a Healthy Weight

Overweight cats look cute in cartoons and memes, but feline obesity is no laughing matter. Excess weight strains your pet's heart and joints and increases the risk of diabetes, arthritis, urinary tract problems, cancer, and skin conditions.

Is Your Cat Overweight?

It's difficult to determine the ideal weight for your cat if you look at numbers alone. Although experts say cats should weigh between 7 to 12 pounds, some cats may be overweight or obese at 12 pounds, while others are sleek and slim.

A quick examination will help you evaluate your pet's weight. Run your hands over your pet's body. Can you feel the ribs or are they hidden under a thick layer of fat? The ribs are normally covered by a small amount of fat but can be felt easily if your cat isn't overweight. If you can't feel your pet's ribs, it may be time to make some changes to your pet's diet.

Take a look at your cat's waist from above while he or she is standing. You should see a slight indentation between the hips and back legs. A round appearance with no noticeable waist may mean that your cat is overweight or obese.

What You Can Do to Prevent Obesity

These steps can help your cat avoid the dangerous consequences of obesity:

  • Offer Food Appropriate for Your Cat's Age. Your pet's nutritional needs change throughout his or her lifetime. Growing kittens require more frequent feedings and need extra nutrients in their food. Continuing to feed cats food intended for kittens past one year of age can lead to weight gain. Food changes may also be needed as your pet ages. Less active, older cats may benefit from lower-calorie senior food. Your pet's veterinarian can help you find a type of cat food that meets all of your pet's nutritional requirements.
  • Pay Attention to Portion Sizes. Do you throw a handful of food in your cat's dish every time you notice it's empty? Overfeeding is a common cause of weight issues. In fact, your pet may only need one-third to one-half cup of food per day, depending on the food's calorie count. Take a look at the cat calorie calculator offered on the Pet Nutrition Alliance website to determine how many daily calories your cat really needs.
  • Limit Treats. Too many treats can also affect your pet's weight and may be a factor in obesity. Treats should account for no more than 10 percent of your pet's daily caloric intake, according to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University.
  • Help Your Cat Stay Active. Cats need regular exercise to maintain their ideal weight and keep their hearts, muscles, and joints strong and healthy. Your cat may enjoy batting at the toy at the end of a kitty fishing rod, chasing a laser beam, or fetching a small toy. Interactive treat mazes offer physical and mental stimulation for your cat (as long as you pay attention to the calorie count of the treats), while battery-powered mice give your pet a fun workout. If you're handy, a homemade maze or climbing tower can keep your pet busy for hours.
  • Visit the Vet. It's easy to overlook a slight weight gain in your cat. Unfortunately, even an extra pound may increase your pet's risk of developing health problems. During annual wellness exams, your pet's veterinarian evaluates your cat's weight and body condition and can offer a few healthy eating tips if your favorite feline has started to gain weight.

Approximately 60 percent of cats are obese, according to the American Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Could your cat be one of them? If you're concerned about your cat's weight, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

Pet Nutrition Alliance: Calorie Calculator for Cats

Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University: Top Five Nutrition Mistakes Pet Owners Make, 5/31/17

Association for Pet Obesity Prevention: 2018 Pet Obesity Survey Results

Cornell Feline Health Center: How Often Should You Feed Your Cat?

Catster: Do You Have an Obese Cat? Here’s How to Tell, 3/6/18

Your First Visit is FREE

Sign up now

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

9:00 am-4:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-4:00 pm

Wednesday:

Closed

Thursday:

9:00 am-4:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-4:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Wow! Thanks to all the staff at Anderson Vet Clinic. I feel like you all truly love what you do! My kitty, Lola and I always have such a pleasant experience when we come in. Fortunately, it’s usually just for a check-up, but I would not leave Lola in anyone else’s hands but yours. Thank you for your caring commitment!"
    Maya Smith / Los Angeles, CA
  • "I have benefited tremendously from the care my pet received from Dr. Anderson."
    John Doe / San Diego, CA
  • "Fabio wasn’t eating the food I was giving him and I didn’t feel he was getting the nutrition he needed. Thanks to Dr. Anderson, he evaluated Fabio and his current diet to make some recommendations and now Fabio has gone from barely eating to finishing his meals and he looks healthier than ever. You clearly are an expert in your field...thanks so much!"
    Tara Brown / Kansas City, MO

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

    Goats

    Maybe, you've heard that goats will basically eat anything they can put in their mouth. This might give you the impression that they're simple animals to take care of, but this isn't the case. Goats need proper nutrition and enough space, among other things, to grow strong and healthy. Therefore, before ...

    Read More

    Donkeys, Horses & Mules

    There are many benefits to owning a donkey, horse, or mule. However, it is important to know that these animals (all belonging to the sub-family called equus) require special housing, feeding, and care for a healthy life. Here are a few important considerations to make before bringing a new animal home. Housing ...

    Read More

    Cows

    Are you thinking about getting a cow? Before you do, there are a few considerations you need to make. These large and gentle animals need a considerable amount of space, have special dietary needs, and have certain health needs you’ll have to pay attention to. Plus, they can live for up to twenty-five ...

    Read More

    Sheep

    Sheep are adorable with their naturally wooly coats. With all that wool comes responsibility, though. If you're considering raising sheep, you should know what it entails to take care of them. That way, you're prepared for their arrival and aren't overwhelmed after you adopt them. Housing What type ...

    Read More

    Pigs

    Did you know that pigs are a lot cleaner than the reputation they have? While they do roll around in the mud, this keeps them cool. They're actually one of the cleanest animals. They, however, require care, just like any animal. Before you take on more than you can handle, you should educate yourself ...

    Read More

    Chickens

    Choosing a Pet Chicken Maybe, you want the luxury of freshly laid eggs. Maybe, you think chickens are interesting animals and would make good pets. Before you rush out and purchase a coop and chicken feed, you should understand what's entailed in keeping them healthy and safe. General Information Make ...

    Read More

    Turkeys

    While all animals have unique personalities, turkeys are usually docile animals. They can be interesting pets to have. However, like any pet, they require a certain level of care to remain healthy and content. Before you decide to purchase turkeys, you should understand what the care entails. Housing Keep ...

    Read More

    Ducks

    You might enjoy feeding the ducks at the pond. When you see them interact with their environment, it may make you smile. Ultimately, this could provoke you to want to go out and buy one, so you have that feeling all the time. While you might not think that a duck takes a great deal of work, there's more ...

    Read More

    Fish

    If you’re thinking of getting a pet fish, you should know that your veterinarian has a lot of good advice about pet ownership. Fish can be very rewarding as pets, and you just may be surprised about how much fish actually interact with their owners. Here’s more valuable information about choosing ...

    Read More

    Snakes

    If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet, then you might be interested in owning a snake. However, there are a few aspects of owning a snake that you need to be aware of before you make this type of commitment. Here’s what you need to know. What to Know Before Choosing a Pet Snake Before you purchase ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles