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Obesity in Cats: Causes, Signs & What to Do

Obesity in Cats: Causes, Signs & What to Do

Obesity in cats is increasing at alarming rates. It's important to know that carrying a few extra ounces can make a significant difference in your cat's longevity and quality of life. In this post, our Visalia vets share insight on how kitties gain extra pounds and tips for helping your overweight cat slim down.

Weight & Overall Health

Just like us humans, if your cat is carrying extra weight, their risk of developing serious and potentially life-threatening health issues dramatically increases. As little as a few extra ounces on your kitty's body can significantly impact your cat's overall health and vitality. 

Increased Health Risks Faced by Overweight Cats

Is your feline friend carrying extra weight? Their risk of developing these conditions will increase:

  • Skin problems
  • Arthritis
  • Joint pain
  • Urinary tract infections 
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Diabetes 

Left untreated, these health risks can progress and lead to veterinary medical emergencies, which may be more time-consuming and costly to treat - and result in long-term consequences for your cat's health. Ask your primary care veterinarian how they can help.

Why Cats Become Overweight

Cats' naturally lean bodies are built for running, jumping and hunting. If they start to consume more calories than they burn, cats typically gain excess weight. However, some cats are more prone to weight gain than others. Cats facing a higher risk of weight gain include:

  • Indoor cats with decreased opportunity for exercise
  • Senior cats
  • Neutered male cats

If your cat is in one of the above categories, talk to your vet about your cat's nutritional and caloric needs and set a goal to keep them at a healthy weight. 

How to Tell If Your Cat is Overweight

Take these steps to find out whether your cat may be overweight, and whether it's time to bring them to your veterinarian for an examination and some advice on nutrition. 

Look For Your Cat's Waistline 

Standing directly above your cat, look down at their body. Search for a slight indent just above your kitty's hips, where their waist should be (this may be a bit more challenging with long-haired cats). Bulging sides or no clear waist means that your cat may be carrying more weight than they should be. 

Feel For Your Cat's Ribs 

If you run your hand along your cat's body, can you feel their ribs? If not, there's a good chance that your cat is overweight. 

Trouble Jumping Up Onto Furniture 

Our feline friends are built to jump. If it takes multiple attempts for your cat to jump onto their favorite chair or they give up altogether, their weight may be keeping them down. 

Refer to Our Overweight Cat Chart 

Check out our overweight cat chart 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

Getting Kitty's Weight Back On-track

Your cat's age, breed and lifestyle all make a significant difference to the nutritional needs of your pet.

If you think that your cat may be overweight make an appointment to see your veterinarian. Your vet can access your cat's current weight and let you know what your kitty's optimal weight is. 

If your vet recommends that your cat lose weight they will provide you with recommendations on how to help your cat shed those extra ounces safely. 

For cats that are just a little overweight, sticking to their regular food but reducing the size of each meal could get your pet's weight back within healthy parameters. 

If your cat needs to lose a significant amount of weight, it may be best to switch your cat over to a specialized food that is formulated to help with feline weight loss.

What To Do About Unexplained 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.

Help to get your overweight cat back to a healthier weight with regular examinations at your primary care vet. If your cat requires emergency care for any reason, contact our Visalia emergency vets at Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services.

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services is an after-hours emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs from Visalia and surrounding areas. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

(559) 739-7054 Contact