We all love our chonky cats -how could you not want to pet and hug a fluffy kitty right? While we love our kitties no matter how we adopt them, we all want our cats to live long healthy lives and maintaining a cat’s ideal weight is an important part of that. The smallest amount of extra weight over a cat’s ideal weight (as little as a couple of pounds) can put them at risk for medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. In addition to overweight cats potentially living shorter lives, they are less playful and energetic which is no fun for them!
So what is my cat’s ideal weight and how do I know if they are at risk by being overweight?
It's important to discuss your cat's weight with your veterinarian. There is a big variation in appropriate body weight for cats because not all cats are built the same. One cat’s ideal weight may be less than their kitty friend. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine your cat’s ideal weight. They may use a Body Condition Score (BCS), which is a number used to describe the amount of fat that a pet has accumulated. Additionally, your vet will work to rule out any medical causes for obesity.
If my cat is overweight, how much weight do they need to lose and how fast?
Weight loss should occur gradually to avoid liver damage. Your vet will want to learn more about your cat’s lifestyle in order to give you a daily caloric intake range to lose weight. Does your kitty play most of the day or do they spend their afternoons napping? Do you like to give lots of treats or does your kitty just eat at meal time? It's very important to be as accurate and detailed as possible so your cat can have a personalized weight loss plan fit for them.
How do I know how many calories my cat currently eats? Will my cat be hungry all the time if they eat less calories?
If you eye-ball the amount you feed your cat, you should pour that same amount into a measuring cup to determine the amount that they are eating. Both dry and canned cat food are labeled with a calorie amount per cup or can. If you know the amount you feed, you can determine the number of calories they are eating daily. Foods are also labeled with a feeding guide based on your cat’s ideal body weight to help determine the amount to feed. Be sure to use a measuring cup and not a feeding scoop to feed accurately. This process can be trickier when you have a multi-cat household and you may need to feed eat cat in a separate room. If your cat is easily upset when fed less food than they are used to, your vet may recommend a low calorie diet designed for weight loss. A food like this has less calories per cup, allowing your kitty to eat the same volume of food they are used to while still reducing calories for weight loss.
Does my cat need to exercise to lose weight?
Cats don't need much exercise; however, you should strive for three separate five minute intense play periods using toys, boxes, balls, or anything your cat likes to chase. If your cat really doesn’t like toys, consider getting a kitty-safe leash and walking your cat in a safe area outside.
Finally, what about our very own Chonk, Mr. Bee- is he losing weight?
Our very own Chonky kitty Mr. Bee (aka BeeJay) stole the heart of the country this year. While his 26 pounds of chonky fluffiness is adorable, it is important for his health that he lose weight. His new owners are working alongside our veterinarian to ensure his size is not genetic or due to medical issues. He is currently on a weight loss plan created specifically for him by our veterinarian. We appreciate all the support that stemmed from this amazing kitty’s story and size and we want to make sure that we are advocating for the health of all of our animals as well as all of our supporters’ animals. Check out this visual below showing ideal body condition scoring for cats. If you have any concerns that your chonker needs to lose weight, be sure to consult your veterinarian. A healthy cat is a happy cat!