Managing Your Cat's Weight

Managing Your Cat's Weight

Obesity can adversely affect your overweight cat’s health

It has been estimated that over half of U.S. cats are overweight. The risk of feline obesity can be increased by genetics, high-fat diets, overeating, lack of exercise and health problems such as hypothyroidism. While gaining a few pounds may not make a lot of difference to your body, for a cat with a comparatively smaller body, a few pounds can add a lot of stress to bones and organs.

Common health problems associated with cat obesity include:

  • Lameness and arthritis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Exercise intolerance and overheating
  • Increased anesthetic and surgical risks

How do you know if you have an overweight cat?

Feline obesity is defined as 20–25% above ideal weight, or enough excess body fat to impair health or body function.

Purina Body Condition System™ for feline obesity


Cannot see ribs, but you can easily feel them. Pet has a waist behind rib cage when viewed from above. Viewed from side, the stomach tucks in behind the rib cage. Maintain current feeding regimen.


Cannot feel ribs, or can feel them only with significant pressure. Fat deposits at base of tail. Belly is rounded when viewed from the side. For weight loss, follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for feeding. Compare again at scheduled check-up. Make feeding adjustments as directed.

Why many weight-loss programs fail

  • Metabolic disorder

If a metabolic disorder such as hypothyroidism is causing your cat's weight gain, diet foods may not always help. Before initiating any diet, your cat should be examined by a veterinarian to rule out metabolic dysfunction and disease

  • “Reduced-calorie foods” may not be low in calories

Maybe you’ve tried giving your overweight cat “reduced-calorie” food. The trouble is, while this food may have fewer calories than other maintenance foods in the same line, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s low enough in calories to help your cat lose the excess weight

  • Lack of exercise

Without adequate, consistent exercise as part of a weight-loss program, some overweight cats may fail to lose weight, even if they’re on a low-calorie diet

Feed your cat for good health

  • Don’t feed table scraps and high-calorie treats
  • Place only a measured amount of food in your pet’s bowl each day