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Is Your Cat Overweight? Signs, Symptoms & What to Do

While your feline friend may look cute and "fluffy" with a couple of extra pounds, carrying excess weight can be detrimental to your cat's general health. Here, our Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets offer advice on how to tell if your cat is overweight and how you can help them reach their optimal size. 

How does my cat's weight impact their overall health?

Weight is an important factor in your cat's overall well-being. If your cat is carrying even a few extra pounds, this can negatively affect their long-term health and well-being. Your cat will also have an increased risk of developing:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer (especially intra-abdominal cancers)
  • Diabetes 
  • Heart disease 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Joint pain and injuries
  • Chronic inflammation 
  • Skin problems 
  • Urinary tract infections 

Is my cat overweight?

Our vets in Hattiesburg and Wiggins have a few useful tips to help you tell whether your cat is overweight. We also recommend scheduling regular wellness exams with your vet. During these appointments, your vet will discuss your cat's weight with you and offer guidance on how to help them achieve their optimal size. 

Trouble Jumping 

Cats are natural jumpers. While some are more acrobatically inclined than others, if you notice your feline friend is having issues jumping onto low surfaces they were once able to reach easily, their weight may be the problem. 

Check Your Cat's Waistline 

While your cat is standing, look at their body directly from above. Can you spot a slight indent just above your cat's hips, where their waist should be (keep in mind that this can be challenging with long-haired cats)? If you can't see their waist or if their sides are bulging, this can indicate your kitty is carrying excess weight. 

Feel Your Cat's Rib Cage & Spine 

If your cat is at their ideal weight, you should be able to rub your hands along their chest and feel their ribs. While you're at it, check whether you can feel their spine, which should be under a thin covering of fat (remember that you should never be able to see your cat's spine). 

If you can't feel your four-legged friend's ribs or spine, these may be signs that your feline companion is overweight. 

Look at Your Cat's Belly 

An overweight cat may have a rounded belly when you check them out from the side, whereas a cat that's at a healthy weight will have a slight tuck just after their ribs. See this illustrated in our overweight cat char below. 

Use Our Overweight Cat Chart

The illustration below offers a visual guide to understanding your cat's weight category:

Overweight cat chart, Hattiesburg and Wiggins Vets

How to Best Manage Your Cat's Weight

Your cat's optimal weight and nutritional needs will depend on their breed, size, and age. 

If your cat is only carrying a little bit of excess weight, helping them slim down might just mean reducing their portion sizes slightly, and feeding them fewer treats or cutting them out completely. Feed your cat at a scheduled meal time, as opposed to allowing them to free feed, which can increase the risk of them eating too much. 

We also recommend encouraging extra playtime. Try playing with your cat for at least 10 minutes twice a day. You may also put their food in a feeding toy or scatter it around the house to reinforce their natural hunting behaviors.

Since cats get bored easily, try rotating their toys or treat them to a few new ones to keep them interested in playtime. You can also regularly weigh your cat to track their progress. 

If your cat is significantly overweight, your vet might recommend switching them to a specialized diet that is formulated to help them lose weight.

Managing Your Cat's Weight in a Multi-Cat Household 

If you have more than one cat in your home, you may find it more difficult to manage their weight if one becomes obese. Place the overweight cat's food bowl in a separate room and throw away uneaten food from other cats in your home. 

If one of your cats is a grazer, try keeping their food out of reach of your overweight cat. Do this by cutting a hole in a cardboard box that's too small for your overweight cat to walk through but large enough for the cat who needs the food. You may need to help them learn the new location of their food. 

You may also choose to use microchip feeders, which only let the cat with the corresponding microchip eat the food (you may still need to have separate feeding areas). 

Because cats are typically solitary creatures, they may find living with other cats – even siblings – stressful. Stress can cause cats to overeat, while other cats may lose weight when stressed. 

Unexplained Weight Gain

If you've got a cat that's rapidly gaining weight but has not experienced any change in their routine, it could be a symptom of a more serious underlying internal medical issue. You should make an appointment to speak with your vet as soon as possible. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat gaining weight due to a suspected internal medical issue? Contact our Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets today to book an examination.

New Patients Welcome

Holland Veterinary Hospitals in Hattiesburg and Wiggins are accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all animals. Get in touch today to book an appointment with our experienced vets.

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