One of the questions we get a lot here at PrettyLitter is, “How much should my cat weigh?” So let’s talk healthy cat weight, weight loss, and management for a minute.
How Much Should My Cat Weigh?
Like people, all cats are different. Some breeds tend towards a smaller frame, while others are naturally long, tall, or squatty.
However, most healthy domestic cats tend to hover around the 8 - 10 pound mark. If your cat exceeds 12 pounds, he’s likely overweight.
A good way to judge your cat’s health is by checking his belly fat. Have your cat stand up on all fours, preferably on a counter or table where you can easily look at his torso at eye level. On a cat of healthy weight, the belly shouldn’t dip below the elbows.
While there are some exceptions to this rule - like the infamously cute Munchkin breed - it’s a good health barometer for the vast majority of domestic cats. If you’re still not sure about your cat’s weight, take him for a visit to the vet.
Is My Fat Cat at Risk?
Yes! If your cat is overweight, he’s at high risk of many health problems.
Cat obesity can lead to a number of health hazards, including inflammation, urinary blockage, and feline diabetes, says Dr. Geoff DeWire, a graduate of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and recipient of the Pfizer Clinical Achievement Award for Excellence.
While a 13 or 14 pound cat may be cute in all his fluffy, squishy goodness, he’s actually extremely overweight. For example, if your cat’s ideal weight is 8 pounds but he’s actually 10 pounds, then he’s carrying around an extra 25% of his body weight.
In human terms, that would be the equivalent of a 180 lb adult man putting on an extra 45 pounds. And you probably know what your doctor would say about that - time for a change.
How Can I Help My Cat Lose Weight
Helping your cat lose weight is a lot like helping a person lose weight. It all comes down to two key components: diet and exercise.
Start by finding a healthy brand of cat food that includes meat and vegetables in its top five ingredients. Healthy options include chicken, liver, salmon, duck, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes. Stay away from any products that list “by product” or grains (like corn, soy, white rice, rye, potatoes, or tapioca) in the first five ingredients.
Next, make sure you’re measuring your cat’s portions. While it’s tempting to just fill up the bowl and let your little guy be the judge, he’s just as bad at stopping himself from indulging as we humans are.
Take a look at the portion guide on your cat’s food packaging. Find your cat’s ideal weight and serve him up a portion that’s right for the weight he should be, not the weight he is currently. If after about 4 to 6 weeks you don’t see a change in your cat’s weight, you may need to reduce his portion a little more. You can also use a pet weight calculator to estimate your pet’s daily calorie needs.
Finally, get your furry friend on the treadmill. In cat terms, this usually means whipping out the laser pointer. Schedule your play time every day and commit to it like you would an important appointment - because that’s absolutely what it is.
Help your cat burn off a few extra calories by running him around your living room. You can even get creative and set up a track over the couch, under the coffee table, and up the cat tree. Keep him guessing and you’ll both have a blast. (And yes, posting your cat’s funny workout on YouTube is encouraged.)
Maintaining a healthy cat weight doesn’t have to be a challenge. Figure out the healthy portion your cat needs and add a bit of exercise into his daily routine. He’ll still get to nap, lounge, and watch the birds, but he’ll be doing so in a healthy body that you’ll both get to enjoy for years to come.