Chonky Cat? All About Cat Obesity and Tips for Weight Loss
While chonky cats are all over the internet, letting your cat slip into obesity is not good for their health. Here’s how to know if you have an overweight cat and how to get your cat’s diet and exercise under control.
Is My Cat Overweight?
There is no hard and fast rule for a healthy cat weight. The appropriate weight range for your kitty will depend on their breed and size. A healthy Maine Coon cat will be much heavier than a healthy Siamese. So you might be asking yourself, “Is my cat overweight?”
Here are signs to look for:
- Check your cat’s ribs and backbone
- Look at your cat’s stomach in profile
- Look at your cat’s shape from above
- Ask your veterinarian
No Ribs or Backbone? You Might Have an Overweight Cat
With humans, it’s usually a sign of being undernourished if you can easily feel or see a person’s ribs. That’s not exactly the case with cats. In fact, a healthy cat will have only a thin layer of muscle over their ribs, and it will be easy to feel these bones with light pressure.
Check the sides of your cat’s body and feel for the ribs. If you can’t feel them, they are likely covered by a layer of fat, and you might have an overweight cat.
Similarly, you can feel your cat’s backbone to see if they are overweight. Like their ribs, you should be able to feel the spine without much pressure. It may also be covered by a layer of fat, making it hard to identify in overweight cats.
Does Your Cat’s Stomach Hang Low?
If your cat’s stomach grazes the floor, that is definitely a sign of a chonky cat! Your cat’s stomach should be slim and lifted away from the chest. If a fat pad hangs down or your cat’s belly swings from side to side, they are probably overweight.
Oval-Shaped from Above
Your cat should have a distinctive pear shape when you look at them from above. Their body should be narrower near the shoulders and wider at the hips (though not too wide). You want your cat’s waist to be tucked in. If they are round or ovular with no distinctive waistline, your cat could be obese.
Visit the Veterinarian for a Formal Diagnosis
If you’re noticing all of these signs, then you probably don’t need anyone to tell you that you have a fat cat on your hands. But if you suspect your cat is overweight, it’s good to go to the veterinarian to figure out just how much extra weight your feline is carrying. Your veterinarian can also offer advice on how to help your cat lose weight and help design an overweight cat diet plan.
Typically, a cat is considered overweight if they weigh 15 percent more than their ideal weight. Cat obesity sets in when a feline is 30 percent heavier than their ideal weight. Senior and geriatric cats tend to struggle more with weight gain than kittens or adult cats.
Causes and Risks of Cat Obesity
It’s wise to be concerned about your cat’s weight. Cat obesity is very dangerous to your pet’s health. Understanding the risks and what contributes to cat obesity, will help you take better care of your feline friend.
Some of the causes of cat obesity include:
- Dietary reasons: unhealthy food or poor portion control
- Lack of exercise
- Endocrine issues
- Irregular veterinary check-ups
Dietary Causes of Cat Obesity
Obviously, an unhealthy diet is a common culprit for cat obesity. Cats can become overweight easily if they eat high-calorie or high-fat foods that aren’t appropriate for their needs. Additionally, many cats become overweight because owners struggle to monitor portion control or they free-feed their cats. This might mean a cat is fed too much throughout the day (or their bowl is kept full at all times) or given too many small snacks or table scraps.
If you think your feline’s diet is causing obesity, check out our overweight cat diet plan below.
How Exercise Impacts Your Cat’s Weight
Outdoor cats, while they tend to have shorter lifespans than indoor cats, are rarely obese. A cat will get exercise if it’s given the opportunity and mental stimulation. While keeping your cat indoors is good for their lifespan, it means you must be more intentional about their exercise needs.
There are plenty of toys and accessories to help encourage your cat to be active, such as scratching posts, climbing towers, and interactive toys that let your cat chase and pounce. A good round of laser play also burns calories!
Endocrine Problems Can Cause Weight Gain in Cats
If you’ve established a healthy cat diet and exercise routine, your overweight cat may have other health problems that are contributing to excessive weight gain. Your cat might have endocrine issues that are making it difficult for them to stay at a healthy weight. Your veterinarian can provide more information if they think your cat’s weight results from something other than environmental factors.
Your Veterinarian and Your Cat’s Weight
The more often you visit the veterinarian, the less likely your cat will get fat. Veterinarians train to keep a careful eye on your kitty’s weight. If you’re taking your cat in regularly, your veterinarian will likely catch your cat’s weight gain before it gets out of control and you have an obese cat. Ensuring your pet has consistent care will reduce the likelihood of your cat becoming overweight.
Health Risks for an Overweight Cat
Being overweight can cause your cat to suffer several health issues. Extra weight can put stress on your cat’s joints, liver, and blood sugar. Not to mention that obese cats are uncomfortable – cats naturally want to play and move, and mobility is an important part of their quality of life. Even a cat with a healthy weight can experience some of these issues, but they become much more serious and likely if your cat is overweight.
Help Your Cat Shed Pounds with an Overweight Cat Diet Plan
If you think you have an overweight cat, you should first direct your energy to overhaul their diet. This will be the quickest and most effective way to get your cat to a healthy weight. Here are our tips for an overweight cat diet plan:
- Choose a healthy, high-quality cat food
- Measure careful portions and provide regular meals
- Be intentional with snacks and table scraps
- Include plenty of exercises in the diet plan
Choosing the Right Cat Food
If you have great portion control, are careful with table scraps and snacks, and give your cat plenty of exercise, it’s possible that low-quality cat food is to blame for your cat’s weight gain. Some cat foods have too many carbohydrates and not enough protein derived from meat. These cat foods are often corn-based, and they simply don’t deliver what your cat needs – which is animal protein. The best cat foods are made primarily from meats like rabbit, turkey, chicken, and fish.
Small Portions and More Regular Meals
Most veterinarians recommend that cats eat three to four small meals a day rather than two large ones like many other pets do. It’s crucial to actually measure out your cat’s food portions using the same cup or container each time – don’t just eyeball it. Portion-controlled and timed feeders are an excellent solution for the busy family who can’t be home to measure out cat food throughout the day carefully.
Careful Snack Control
Just because you’re starting an overweight cat diet plan doesn’t mean your feline has to give up snacks entirely. Snacks – mainly healthy ones – can be a great addition to your cat’s day and certainly don’t have to contribute to weight gain.
The key to snacking is to keep it controlled. Limit your cat’s daily nibbles and ensure that the whole family is on board with the new plan. Another tip: before giving your cat a snack, make them work a little for it. Play a fun game and get some exercise before treating them to a special reward. This also creates a perfect opportunity for a daily bonding moment with your feline friend.
No Diet Plan Is Complete Without Exercise
You can’t rely entirely on a healthy diet for your cat to stay lean. You need to provide toys, space, and engagement to encourage your cat’s physical activity throughout the day. Plus, exercise and play are also essential for your cat’s mental health. There is no shortage of ways to engage your cat in play, from yarn to laser pointers to any other game you can come up with from time to time.
For the ultimate combination of proper feeding and exercise, check out cat feeding balls and food puzzles made for cats. These check the boxes for healthy snacking and exercise all in one toy!
Get Your Overweight Cat into Shape for a Long, Healthy Life
Your chonky cat might be cute, but he’s not as comfortable or happy as he would be at a healthy weight. If you have an overweight cat, start an overweight cat diet plan and whip your feline into shape with some fun games and toys. A lean, active cat will live a longer life, so you can enjoy their company for many years to come!