Pet obesity numbers, along with the average cat weight, are climbing. It’s no secret that overweight cats are a common problem. In fact, 60% of cats in the US are considered overweight, and about 20% are considered obese.
So many people have adapted the mindset that their cat is “fat and happy,” but the truth is that an overweight cat is at risk for multiple health issues. The same can be said for an underweight cat.
Making sure your cat maintains a healthy cat weight is vitally important to their overall health and longevity. And don’t we all want healthy cats who live long and happy lives?
What is a Normal Cat Weight?
To determine what a “normal” cat weight is, there are several factors to consider. What’s normal for one cat might be considered obese or underweight for another. A cat’s breed, age, sex, and whether or not they are spayed or neutered play a large role in determining what their normal cat weight should be.
For example, a healthy weight for a full-grown male Maine Coon cat might be 15 pounds, whereas a healthy weight for a full-grown female Persian cat is more like 8 pounds. Quite a difference!
For regular domestic cats, experts agree that the average cat weight range is usually around 8-10 pounds, but even that can vary. And then, of course, kittens and senior cats will have different weight ranges as well.
Because it’s impossible to truly identify what an average cat weight is, veterinarians usually use what is called the Body Condition Scoring (BCS) System to determine if a cat is overweight or underweight. Basically, your cat’s waist should be visible when looking down at them, you should be able to feel their ribs, and they shouldn’t have a saggy belly.
Is My Cat Overweight?
Are you now left wondering, “Is my cat overweight?” Thankfully you can easily do both a visual and physical check of your cat at home to help determine if your cat might not be at their ideal weight.
How to do a physical/visual weight check of your cat:
- Place your thumbs on your cat’s backbone and spread both hands down and across their rib cage. You should be able to feel their ribs.
- Examine your cat’s side profile. This works best if you are level with your cat. Check for your cat’s abdomen to be tucked behind their rib cage rather than flapping down.
- Examine your cat from above to check if you can see their waist behind the ribs.
You can also easily weigh your cat at home! All you need is a regular human scale.
How to weigh your cat at home:
- Pick up your cat and stand on the scale to determine your combined weight.
- Put your cat down and weigh yourself.
- Subtract your weight from Step 2 from your combined weight from Step 1.
Cat Obesity Health Risks
Did you know that one extra pound of weight on a cat is the equivalent of 14 to 15 pounds on a 5’ 4” female human or 17 pounds on a 5’ 9” male human? That really puts things into perspective! As with human obesity, pet obesity comes with health risks as well.
Common weight-related health issues include:
- Type 2 feline diabetes (overweight cats are 3 times more likely to develop diabetes than a cat of healthy weight)
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Urinary issues
- Chronic inflammation
- Certain types of cancers
- Compromised immune system
- Skin/coat issues (overweight cats might not be able to properly groom themselves)
- Shortened life span
Not to mention the fact that an overweight cat’s quality of life is affected. They may not have the energy to play, and they can be less likely to interact and engage with their families.
How to Achieve a Healthy Cat Weight
If you’ve determined that your cat is overweight, it’s probably time to put a diet and exercise plan in place to help them lose those extra pounds. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian first. They can help you determine the best and healthiest course of action. They can also rule out any medical issues that could possibly be the cause of any weight gain or weight loss.
Steps to take to help lose extra weight and maintain a healthy weight include:
- Putting your cat on a feeding schedule with portioned meals rather than free-feeding*
- Cutting back on their meal portions if they’re already on a feeding schedule*
- Switching from a dry food diet to a canned food diet, as canned food is usually higher in protein and lower in calories*
- Cutting back on treats
- Making your cat work for their food by using food puzzles
- Making more time for interactive playtime
- Harness and leash training your cat so you can take them for walks
If you think your cat might be underweight, it’s equally important to get their weight up. Though you may be tempted to just feed them a bunch of treats or extra-large portions of food*, that’s really not the best idea.
You want to make sure you’re feeding something nutritionally well-rounded, and you don’t want them to gain too much weight too quickly. Exercise and activity are important for underweight cats as well, as building muscle will also help them gain weight.
*Consult with your veterinarian before adjusting your cat’s diet. Cutting things back too much too quickly, feeding too much too quickly, or suddenly switching your cat’s food can all cause their own sets of problems.
As you can see, there are a host of reasons to help your cat maintain a healthy, average cat weight. A fat cat is truly NOT a happy one. A happy cat is one that is healthy, active, and on an appropriate diet. To give you and your cat the best chance at enjoying a long, happy, and healthy life together, it’s important to keep an eye on their weight.
Have you ever had to put your cat on a diet or monitored their weight before? How did it go?
Cat weight is one of the five vital stats that we encourage you to monitor. Join us in our Pet Health 5 monthly reminder and together we can start tracking our pet’s health. We’ll send you a reminder on the 5th of each month with a checklist of what to do and how to do it, and you take the time to check your cat’s health stats and log them.
Pet health, cat health, is an important aspect of helping our cats live long lives. You can start today by weighing your cat and signing up for Pet Health 5.
About the Author: Emily is “mom” to seven cats, one dog, and two sugar gliders. She has been writing in the pet industry for over 8 years, with a focus on cats, rescue, and adventuring. When she isn’t writing, playing music, crocheting, or working on her own entrepreneurial pursuits, Emily and her husband enjoy hiking, road-tripping, camping, and canoeing with their three cat adventurers. Follow her on her blog, KittyCatGo.