How Much Should A Healthy Cat Weigh?
Updated: Oct 25
Some owners are shocked when they take their cats to the vet and find out that the cat they thought was a perfect weight is actually a little too plump. As cats have made the transition from pest-controlling hunters to pampered pets, it's become more common to see cats that are overweight. Many people aren’t really sure what a cat looks like at a healthy weight.
If you’re concerned that your cat might be getting a little too “fluffy”, keep reading. We have tips for understanding your cat’s body condition, ideas for exercise, and tricks for handling a voracious speed eater.
How Much Should A Cat Weigh?
If you do a quick Google search, the answer is 10 lbs. This is true for most cats, but a lot depends on your cat’s breed and build. Some breeds are naturally petite like the Singapura, weighing in at 5 lbs. On the opposite end of the scale is the Maine Coon, which can reach a staggering 25 lbs. Your average mixed breed house cat can be at any end of the spectrum, depending on the mix of genes. Your best bet for finding out what your cat should weigh is to consult your veterinarian.
Why Is A Cat’s Weight Important?
Chonky cats are all over TikTok and Instagram. While their antics may be funny, the consequences to their health are no laughing matter.
Overweight and obese cats are more likely to develop diseases like diabetes and cardiac disease.
The extra weight on their joints causes extra wear and tear that can lead to an early onset of arthritis.
Painful conditions like bladder stones, which can lead to dangerous blockages are more common in overweight and obese cats.
If your cat needs to go under anesthesia, they are at greater risk of complications
If your overweight cat gets sick and won’t eat, hepatic lipidosis is more likely to occur. This is also called fatty liver disease and is a condition in which fat cells accumulate within the liver, making it unable to function.
What Is Body Condition?
Body condition is a tool used to determine if an animal is at a healthy weight. This is actually a better indication of if your cat is in good shape than the number on the scale. The scale ranges from 1-9 with 1 being dangerously underweight and 9 being dangerously obese.
Some healthy weight indicators include:
Feeling your cat’s ribs with gentle pressure
Ribs aren’t too prominent or notcieable
Viewing from above their body, they have an obvious tapered look to the waist
A slight belly on your cat is fine. It’s called the primordial pouch and is very common. Of course, to be certain of your cat’s body condition, consult your veterinarian.
How To Exercise A Cat
Like most of us, cats can benefit from having more movement in their daily lives. This is easier than you think. There are plenty of ways to encourage your cat to stretch his legs.
Interactive play will get your cat up and moving. Teaser toys are great toys for engaging your cat. You can even make your own. Take a dowel rod, some twine, and some feathers, and you’re good to go! Teaser toys engage the hunting instinct and encourage your cat to stalk, pounce, and grab at the toy at the end of the string.
Laser pointers are another interactive option. Cats can’t resist trying to catch the red dot. Run it along the floor, up the wall, and let your cat stalk and pounce to help your cat get in some healthy movement.
If you have a large amount of wall space and a cat that likes to be up high, cat wall ramps can be a fun solution. Some cats can’t resist the urge to be at the highest point in the room, and ramps will encourage them to move, jump, and explore. This is definitely an investment, but if you are a die-hard cat person, this is a great way to encourage play in your current and future cats.
What Is A Healthy Diet For A Cat?
As long as you’re feeding your cat high-quality cat food, all of their nutritional needs are covered. Check the label to help determine the quality of the food. The protein used should be specific, like chicken or turkey. Carbohydrate sources should account for only around 10-15% of your cat’s food. Fat should come from a healthy source. Fish oil, flaxseed oil, and olive oil are all good fat sources that are included in many premium cat foods.
When purchasing cat food, make sure you pay attention to the life stage the food is designed for. Kittens have higher caloric needs since they’re still growing. Kitten food is calorie-dense with a higher fat content than food designed for adults. If you have an adult cat and a kitten, you may need to feed them separately until the kitten reaches adulthood.
Unless your veterinarian has prescribed diet food for your cat, then feeding your cat a commercial diet food is unnecessary. You can help your cat lose or maintain weight by decreasing treats, watching portion sizes, and feeding on a schedule instead of free feeding. Portion sizes depend on your cat’s energy levels as well as whether your cat is spayed or neutered. Your vet can help you figure out the portions that are right for your cat.
How To Handle A Speed Eater
Some cats will start trying to attack the food in their bowl before you’ve even had a chance to put it down. These are the cats that devour their food in 10 seconds… only to hack it up on your carpet 30 minutes later. You’ll need to consult your vet to determine any underlying health issues, like parasites, allergies, or digestive diseases, but this can happen for reasons that aren’t health-related. Your cat may be territorial about their food. They may have been food insecure in the past, or they may just really like to eat.
This is common enough that there are solutions to help you get your cat to put on the brakes. Puzzle feeders help slow your cat either by using grooves and shapes that your cat has to eat around or by making your cat use his paws to pull food out of containers that are too small for his head. If your cat is on a wet food diet, then a lick mat can help slow him down. Simply spread the food on the mat, and your cat will be forced to take his time to lick the food out of all the nooks and crannies.
At Pet Waggin’, we’re all about keeping our furry family happy and healthy. While we are not veterinarians, we’re always happy to share tips and tricks to help you navigate a cat with a little extra weight.
Do you have a cat on a weight loss journey? Share your story in the comments!