Has Mr. Snuggles been packing on the pounds? Are you worried that your cat could be the next contestant on The Biggest Loser? If so, your kitty might be one of the estimated 58% of cats that are overweight or obese in the United States.

Battle the bulge

You may think a little extra weight on a cat is no big deal, but it is. Obesity puts cats at risk for many diseases and other health concerns.

Face the facts

Your little tubby buddy may be cute, but all that extra weight is unhealthy for him. Just like humans, extra weight puts cats at risk for many serious health problems. Diabetes mellitus, arthritis, heart and respiratory disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, skin problems, some forms of cancer and a shorter life span are just some of the risk factors that come with feline obesity. You love your cat and you want to keep him around as long as possible, so it's time to help him get healthy. But how do you know if your cat is overweight?

So what's a healthy weight?

"Just like humans, extra weight puts cats at risk for many serious health problems."

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the following weight ranges are appropriate for healthy cats. Keep in mind that a couple of extra pounds on a small animal like a cat is much different than a few extra pounds on you. With an animal as small as a cat, even a couple of pounds of extra weight can make a big difference in its overall health. If you are concerned, it is always best to check with your veterinarian.

  • Domestic cat: 8-10 lbs
  • Persian: 7-12 lbs
  • Siamese: 5-10 lbs
  • Maine coon: 10-25 lbs

How does your cat measure up?

We know there's nothing simple about getting a cat to sit on a scale. Fortunately, it's pretty simple to determine if your cat is overweight without knowing the numbers. Try these tricks to determine if your kitty is on the healthy side of the scale or not.

  1. Can you feel your cat's ribs? You should be able to feel each rib distinctly with just a little fat covering beneath the skin. If your cat's ribs are visually protruding, your cat is too thin. If you cannot feel his ribs at all, your cat is obese.
  2. When you look at your cat from above, can you see his waist? A cat's waistline should go inwards. If your cat does not have a distinct waist or if it protrudes outwards, it is likely that your cat is overweight.
  3. Check the bony areas of your cat's body. You should be able to feel the bones of the spine, shoulders, hips and base of the tail. There will be a slight fat covering, but the bones should feel prominent.

  4. When you view your cat from the side, does it have an abdominal tuck? Is the diameter of the cat's waist smaller than its ribcage? If so, your cat is within a healthy weight range. If the waist is the same size or larger than the ribcage, your cat is likely to be carrying extra weight.

Visit your veterinarian

If you think there's a possibility that your cat might be overweight, he probably is. Schedule a visit with your veterinarian as soon as possible. They can confirm your cat's weight issue and help you formulate a plan to get him back on track. He'll also confirm that your cat is healthy enough to begin a diet.

The weight loss plan

Weight issues with cats are pretty similar to the weight issues humans deal with. Weight gain happens when cats take in more calories than they work off, making it more common in house cats than in animals that spend large amounts of time outside. To help your cat lose weight, cut his calorie intake and encourage him to be more active.

It's not easy to get a cat to exercise, but you can make a big difference through play. Get him to play with toys or chase a flashlight around a room.

Don't expect to see big results fast. Healthy weight loss happens slowly. Ask your vet exactly how much weight your cat needs to lose and how long you can expect the process to take.

More ways to keep your cat healthy

How much should a cat eat? You'll be surprised
My cat is fat! What should I do?

5 Exercises you can do with your indoor cat



Comments on "What's a healthy weight for cats?"

Tish December 27, 2013 | 9:34 AM

This article nailed it. My Maine Coon chose me to adopt him a bit more than 3 years ago-he was probably around or approaching 1 year old and hadn't filled out (they continue to grow), so I didn't have a standard to follow. He gets premium grain free canned food with just a tiny scoop (the scoop that comes with protein shakes or weight loss shakes) of low-carb high protein, grain free dry food to snack on at night. GRAINS MAKE PETS FAT...THEY DONT EAT GRAINS IN THE WILD! My boy is a perfect, happy, healthy weight and loves to go see his pretty lady friend down the street from time to time who gives him treats and loves (she is the vet-he hasn't caught on because he only needs a quick check up and a shot....the joys of good health!!)

Diana M December 16, 2013 | 8:45 AM

Best weight varies according to breed. Norwegian Forest cats, Maine Coons and Ragdolls are large cats. I fostered a Ragdoll male who was 17 pounds as an adult and he wasn't fat. My old girl, a Siamese mix, never weighed more than 8 1/2 pounds. Applehead Siamese are much more muscular and heavier than the wedgie Siamese that you see more of these days. If you are concerned that your cat is underweight, you should consult your vet.

Sarah December 04, 2013 | 8:01 PM

since when does feeling bones in an animal healthy? they say the same thing about dogs. Bony is not healthy. My cat is 8 pounds and I think he's too skinny. I think it's the same "Hollywood standard" that is out there for people. Unless you can see your bones you're fat. I call crap on that. I would like to see my cat weigh a little more but I feed him all the time, and treats and he just won't put on the weight. He's too active I guess.

Annabelle June 02, 2013 | 9:44 AM

My cat lost his weight fast =O

Jenna March 18, 2013 | 7:59 PM

I had a cat that fluctuated between 17 and 25 lbs depending on if we were living in the mountains in the winter or the desert. She didn't like the snow so she never went out but when we took her to the warmer climate she became the ultimate bird hunter.

Gabby February 09, 2013 | 6:41 AM

I had a domestic short hair that was 17lbs, not overweight and not a Maine coon; there are exceptions to this. He was just a big cat (not fat)

Darci November 06, 2011 | 1:35 PM

If you would like your cat to lose weight the best thing is only give your cat can food 2 times a day and your cat will lose the weight. This dos work i did with my cat it she lost the weight slowly.

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