Obesity in Cats

Updated: 10/10/23
Overweight cat sitting in kitchen

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 60% of cats are overweight or obese. In animals, fat starts to accumulate around internal organs before it’s visible from the outside. That means by the time you notice your cat is gaining weight, her health may already be negatively affected. A 10-pound cat only needs about 200 calories a day.

Being overweight or obese doesn’t just affect how your cat looks, it also increases her risk for many health problems including:

If your cat does become overweight or obese, talk with your veterinarian about ways to get your cat back to a healthy weight. This could include a change in diet or starting an exercise program. Your veterinarian can help you to find a solution that works for you and your cat.

 

Body Condition Score

Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is a quantitative tool that is used to determine a cat’s body condition and fat accumulation. The scale ranges from 1 (very thin) to 9 (obese) with an ideal body score of 5. Changes in a pet’s weight can have many causes including dietary changes, feeding habits, physical activity, age, medication, as well as an underlying disease.

Make sure to discuss your cat’s ideal weight and nutritional needs with your veterinarian.

Body Condition Score (BCS) for Cats Source: Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. VERY THIN (20% under ideal weight) Ribs, spine and hip bones are easily visible (coat may interfere with visibility). Fat cannot be seen or felt under the skin. Obvious loss of muscle mass. THIN Ribs, spine and hip bones are visible (coat may interfere with visibility).. Fat cannot be seen or felt under the skin. Obvious loss of muscle mass. IDEAL Ribs, spine and hip bones are easily felt and may be visible (coat may interfere with visibility). A waist and abdominal tuck are seen when viewed from above and side. Fat can be felt around ribs, spine and hip bones. OVERWEIGHT Ribs, spine and hip bones are not visible and difficult to feel Excess fat is felt around ribs, spine and hip bones. Waist and abdominal tuck are minimal or absent. OBESITY (30% over ideal weight) Ribs, spine and hip bones are difficult to feel under a thick layer of fat. Waist and abdomen distended when viewed from above and side. Prominent fat deposits over lower spine, neck and chest.

A bowl of milk or a piece of cheese may seem like a little treat, but it's like a whole meal for your cat. One potato chip for a 10-lb cat is like half of a hamburger for a human. One ounce of cheese for a 10-lb cat is like 3.5 hamburgers for a human. one 8 oz bowl of milk is like 3 hamburgers for a human. Souce: Hill's Pet nutrition.

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