Are you concerned that your cat may be overweight? Here’s how to tell, plus all you need to know to help her get fit again.
Springtime is a great time to get outside, get more active, and get in shape. But what about your cat? If she seems to be packing on some weight, it might be time to make some changes. Ignoring the problem could result in a shorter lifespan or health problems such as diabetes, diminished immune function, and digestive problems.
Here’s how to tell if your cat is overweight, along with a complete spring training course to help her get fit again.
Is My Cat Overweight?
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important concerns when it comes to your cat’s health. Factors like diet and exercise in the right amounts can help keep your cat at an ideal weight. Here are 3 simple ways to tell if her diet needs adjusting:
- Rib Check: Place both of your thumbs on your cat’s backbone and spread both hands across her rib cage. You want to be able to feel your cat’s ribs. Actually feeling your cat is important, as the coat of many cats will make a visual check difficult.
- Profile Check: Examine your cat’s profile. It’s best if you are level with her body. Ideally, the abdomen will be tucked up behind the rib cage.
- Overhead Check: Looking at your cat from overhead, identify whether you can see a waist behind her ribs. Most cats at a healthy weight should have a visible waist.
Healthy Cat Weight Diagram
If you notice any sudden changes in your cat's body weight or the following tips don't help your cat lose weight, be sure to visit a veterinarian to see if other health issues may be causing the problem.
Adjust Your Cat’s Diet
If you find that your cat doesn’t “pass” the checks above, she may be overweight. Healthy weight loss for your cat starts with diet and daily exercise. Here are some tips you can use to help your cat reach her ideal weight:
- Cut out all table scraps that your family may be feeding your cat. Not only are table scraps not nutritionally complete and balanced, but they can contribute to weight gain, and some human foods are harmful or even deadly to cats. Remind guests and family members not to feed your cat table scraps, and explain the reasons why — if they understand the dangers, they will be more likely to follow your lead.
- Don't just fill your pet's bowl with food. Read the recommended serving amount on the package and measure the food to be sure you're feeding a proper amount. Remember: feed to maintain your pet's ideal body condition.
- Limit the treats you're feeding your cat. These are often excess calories eaten on top of an already fully balanced diet. Excess treats may also make your cat lose her appetite for nutritionally balanced food. Remember that the caloric intake from treats should not exceed 10% of a cat’s total daily caloric requirement. If you give your cat treats, tie them to activities — as rewards and inspiration for play and exercise.
- Make sure your cat’s food is appropriate for her life stage. If in doubt, ask your veterinarian. If you have an adult cat, you can also try one of our wet or dry weight management formulas.
Want to make feeding time even healthier and more fun for you and your cat? Check out these great feeding tips!
Make Cat Exercise Fun
Changing your cat’s diet can go a long way to helping her lose weight, but getting more exercise is just as important. Here are some great ways to jumpstart a cat exercise regimen:
- If you have just one cat, consider adopting a young kitten. The kitten will insist upon playing with your adult cat and will not take no for an answer. When the kitten grows up, they're likely to become buddies and will invent cat games (mostly stalk & pounce or chase) to fill their time.
- Set aside at least 15 minutes twice each day for fun cat games that involve vigorous play. Use string, balls, toys, or whatever else gets your cat running around enthusiastically.
- Make sure your cat has plenty of high places to climb up to and perch — a cat tree (or two!), wall shelves, bookcases, the refrigerator, etc. If you clear space in those areas, you'll be providing more opportunities for your cat to exercise even when you’re not around.
- Place small balls (such as table tennis balls) along your cat's usual path to create spontaneous cat play. Put the balls on shelves or furniture, too, if she's allowed to play there. When your cat finds a ball, she’s likely to knock it off, causing it to bounce, which will compel her to chase it.
- Purchase cat toys that encourage active play and exercise when you're away. A catnip-filled toy may be even more enticing.
- If you have the time and patience, walking your cat can be an enjoyable way for both of you to exercise together. To get started, check out our complete leash training guide for cats.
There's no shortage of activities to help get your cat more active and fit. Here are nine more fun ways to play with your cat. No matter what form of exercise you choose, we bet you’ll enjoy the extra time playing together as much as your cat does! After all, a healthy cat is a happy cat, and that's sure to rub off on you.