Is my cat fat or just big

Is my cat too fat?

© istockphoto.com/OlgaMiltsova

Obesity

Experts estimate that almost every second cat is now too fat. This is already changing our viewing habits: Most cat owners do not even notice that their cat is too round. Take the test here to see how your velvet paw is doing.

How can I tell if my cat is too fat?

If you want to find out if your cat is too fat, a scale will do little to help you. Although there are data on average ideal weights for different cat breeds, they are of about as much use to you as the statement that an average woman weighs around 60 kg and an average man 65 kg. So, if you want to know how much the average European house cat should weigh:

  • Queen: 3.4 kg
  • Hangover: 4.3 kg

However, if you cannot say with certainty that your cat is an average cat, you need to look closely and, above all, feel it to find out whether it is ideal weight or rather a few extra pounds on its ribs. You should answer the following questions:

1. Does your cat have a waist?

When looking at your cat from above or from the side, you should be able to see its waist easily. If you have a long-haired cat, it is best to run both hands over its flanks. Behind the rib cage, your hands should make a clear curve inward.

Many cat owners say that their cat developed a "pot belly" after being neutered. Often, however, superfluous fat pads are also hidden behind them.

2. Are your ribs palpable?

Gently rub your hand over your cat's chest. You should be able to feel your ribs even through thick fur without you having to exert yourself. A small layer of fat over the ribs is normal.

If you can see the ribs and vertebrae from afar, the cat is usually too thin. Even if some Orientals naturally show ribs more than other cat breeds.

3. Can you count her ribs?

When your cat is at ideal weight, you can easily count her ribs by simply running your hand over them.

If you have to exert yourself and press harder to count the ribs, that speaks for about 15% overweight.

If you cannot feel where one rib ends and the next begins, your cat is carrying around 30% too much weight. According to the medical definition, she is obese and seriously ill.

4. Does your cat have fat pads on the back and base of the tail?

If you run your hand lightly over your spine, you should be able to clearly feel the individual vertebrae or their spinous processes. If this is difficult for you, your cat probably has fat pads on its back that don't belong there.

5. Has your joy of exercise diminished?

For many cat owners, having their cat doze curled up for much of the day is a sign of satisfaction. But this peaceful appearance can be deceptive.

Of course, every cat gets a little calmer over time. However, if your darling can no longer be motivated to play or runs out of breath after a short time, something is wrong and you should go to the vet.

When is a cat considered overweight?

The scales alone cannot tell us whether our cat is overweight and there is no reliable formula for the body mass index (as is the case with us humans). There are simply too many different cat breeds for that, their breed-typical physique ranges from graceful to imposing. Hangovers are usually heavier than queens and there are also individual differences.

We can help ourselves with the so-called Body Condition Score (BCS)which defines five categories. The jump from one category to the next means approx. 15% more body weight:

  • BCS 1/5: The cat is very skinny. There is no longer any fat to be felt over the ribs. Ribs, vertebrae and pelvic bones are noticeably clearly visible when the coat is short and it has hardly any muscles.
  • BCS 2/5: The cat is thin. There is only a very thin layer of fat over the ribs. Ribs and vertebrae can be seen when the coat is short.
  • BCS 3/5: The cat has Ideal weight. There is a small layer of fat over the ribs, but they are easy to count. She has a distinct waistline.
  • BCS 4/5: The cat has approx. 15% Obesity. Your ribs and vertebrae are barely palpable, but no longer easy to count. You can hardly make out a waist. Your risk of diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver syndrome or cardiovascular disease is increased and your life expectancy is reduced.
  • BCS 5/5: The cat is about 30% overweight and is by definition obese (obese). Ribs and spine can only be felt with great difficulty or not at all. A waist can no longer be seen, but instead a big belly and clear fat pads on the back and the base of the tail. Overweight to this extent is a disease in its own right, even without complications such as diabetes, heart or joint diseases.

You can find an assessment scheme for your cat's body condition, for example, on the Royal Canin website: Ideal weight for your cat: Weight check.

Obesity: What's Included?

You have already read it: Obesity is not a blemish, but actually a disease that has many complications.

You can find more medical background information on obesity in cats in our animal diseases section under "Obesity in cats".

Most cat owners, however, feel the same way as smokers —— We like to suppress complications such as cancer or diabetes as long as they have not yet occurred and hope that the cup will pass us by. A long list of possible secondary diseases therefore usually motivates neither to lose weight nor to quit smoking.

But there are two strong arguments for letting your cat lose weight:

Scientific studies have shown that being overweight

  1. the enjoyment of life Has been shown to decrease in your cat. And today, not just sometime in the future.
  2. the Life expectancy Your cat will be shortened, even if he or she is not yet suffering from complications.

So it's up to you to give your cat a longer, happier life!

What's the best way to get rid of the bacon for my cat?

It's actually very simple: Obesity occurs when your cat consumes more energy than it uses. So we have two options for getting it removed:

  1. The cat receives less energy. In other words: We are switching to diet food.
  2. We increase our cat's energy consumption through more exercise.

     

Everything is completely logical and not different from humans. In real life, losing weight is usually not that easy. After all, there are reasons why obesity came about in the first place.

First step: recognize feeding errors

"Love goes through the stomach" they say - and that is also true for us humans. but not for the cat. In contrast to the dog, a cat does not attach any social importance to the food. However, we cat owners often make the mistake of equating contact with the cat with the desire for food. We dutifully reward our velvet paws with food for every approach and, whoosh, she has learned how to get food quickly and easily.

Many cats even enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet, i.e. their food bowl is refilled around the clock. There are cats who stay slim even with this so-called ad libitum feeding, but unfortunately this does not apply to all cats, even if this is often claimed. Indoor cats in particular, which move less and have less variety than outdoor cats, quickly eat too much when fed ad libitum and gain weight. The castration also increases the appetite and the natural feeling of satiety occurs later in neutered cats.

Second step: create a diet plan

The next step is to actually start dieting, and this is best done with veterinary assistance. Before starting the diet, your cat should be checked out by the vet to rule out any underlying illnesses or existing complications such as diabetes or a heart problem.

You should then work with your veterinarian to develop a diet plan with realistic goals. The more small intermediate goals you define, the more success you and your cat will have.

When creating a diet plan for your cat, what diet to eat will also come up. We have had the best experiences with the veterinary reduction diets from Royal Canin and Hill's.

You can read about what is important when choosing a diet food in the article "Which cat food is the best for my cat to lose weight?".

Every diet plan includes an exercise program that is tailored to the fitness of your cat, including for cats. Since many overweight cats already have joint and circulatory problems, you usually have to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of exercise, following the motto "exercise moderately but regularly". Don't worry, you don't have to go for a walk with your cat, but a daily round of games is a wonderful way to get your house cat going and at the same time improve the quality of your relationship. Because love in cats does not go through the stomach, but is strengthened by playing and cuddling.

Third step: stick to the diet

Perseverance is certainly the hardest part for most cat owners. But there are many little tricks you can use to motivate yourself to persevere every day.

You can read more about this in the article "This is how your cat can lose weight!".

The most important factor is your attitude towards your cat's diet. If you feel that you are causing harm to your loved one by depriving them of their beloved goodies, there is a high chance that you won't last long. Instead, be aware of how much you are giving your cat in helping her reach her ideal weight:

They give her health, flexibility, joie de vivre and more life time, which you can both enjoy together!