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

Did you know that even the smallest amount of extra weight can begin to cause issues for your sweet little kitty? Here, our Rochester vets share some information about the dangers of extra weight as well as an easy-to-follow overweight cat chart.

Is My Cat Overweight?

Extra weight on cats can quickly lead to serious health implications, some of which can have a life-long impact. Even the smallest amount of weight can begin to affect your cat.

The Effect of Extra Weight on Your Cat's Health

Some of the health-related issues that are seen in cats who are overweight include:

Heart Issues / Cardiovascular Disease

When a cat is overweight it can cause stress on their heart, more specifically the left ventricle, leading to the potential development of cardiovascular disease.

Some of the conditions that can develop when the heart is stressed include:

  • Cardiac Hypertrophy
  • Vascular Hypertrophy
  • Hypertension
  • Myocardial Hypoxia.
Overweight cats also run the risk of impaired pulmonary function due to a decrease in lung volume.

Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)

Cats carrying extra weight can be affected by osteoarthritis which can cause excessive pain and discomfort for your kitty. This condition occurs both with the fatty deposits that can occur around the joints as well as pressure on bones and joints, both caused by the excess weight.

Kidney Disease

Kidney issues are common among obese or overweight cats. Some of these kidney conditions can include:

  • Enlarged Glomerulus
  • Glomerulosclerosis (scarring of the filtering units in the kidneys)
  • Hypertrophy (enlarged kidneys)

Insulin Resistance / Diabetes

When a cat is overweight it can lead to insulin resistance which can cause impaired glucose metabolism. Diabetes mellitus has also been known to develop more commonly in cats that are obese.

Reduced Quality of Life

When a cat is carrying extra weight it can cause extra stress on a number of parts of their bodies including organs leading to decreased function of vital processes and the occurrence of serious conditions. You may also find that your cat just generally has a difficult time moving around. Overall, obesity in cats is detrimental to their health in all areas which can lead to discomfort in life and an early death.

How to Tell if Your Cat is Overweight

Some of the common signs that a cat is beginning to get a little heavy include:

You Notice That Your Cat's Waist is Larger

  • Stand above your cat and look straight down at their back. Look for a small indent above your cat's hips, where their waist should be (this can be a bit tricky with long-haired cats). If you can't see their waist or their sides are bulging, your cat is probably overweight.

You've Been Able to Feel the Extra Weight

  • When your cat is at a healthy weight you should be able to slightly feel their ribs by gently running your hand along their chest. If you can't feel your cat's ribs, your cat may be overweight. 

Jumping isn't an Easy Task For Your Cat

  • Cats are known as nimble creatures that can easily run and jump and move around their environment. If your cat takes several tries to jump up onto their favorite piece of furniture, or if they give up entirely, their weight could be the issue.

Use Our Overweight Cat Chart to Determine Their Weight

Look over the illustration below to get a better understanding of your cat's weight category, and whether your cat may be carrying an extra pound or two.

Overweight cat chart, Thomasville Vet

How can you prevent your cat from gaining weight?

The good news is that you can help your cat not only lose weight but also keep it off. Here are the simple ways you can do this:

Ensure a Well-Balanced Diet

When a cat is overweight the first step is usually to reduce their daily food intake. Many cats are fed more than what they need so it's important to speak with your vet during your cat's wellness exam to learn more about their specific nutritional needs.

Putting your cat on a high-fiber diet may also be beneficial. This is because it can create feelings of fullness which can allow for smaller amounts of food while providing your cat with the same satisfaction.

Canned wet food is also a popular choice as there is a high water content that allows the cat to eat until they are full but the water content will contribute to that fullness as opposed to food only. This can also be beneficial as many cats don't drink enough water throughout the day and this can help them to stay hydrated.

Provide Them With Daily Exercise & Stimulation

By helping your cat to exercise plenty each day you can help to keep them lean and healthy. Providing them with cat trees and other structures to climb on as well as toys to chase can help to keep them moving. There are also many interactive toys on the market that allow you to help them move all around.

What can be done if there is no obvious reason for your cat's weight gain?

If your cat has suddenly begun to put on weight without cause, it's time to see your vet. Unexplained weight gain can be a symptom of an underlying health issue.

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.

Have you noticed that your cat is eating more or maybe filling out a little bit? Contact our Rochester vets to book a visit to have your cat examined and to discuss any weight concerns.