Cat Weight: Comprehensive Guide
Cats, just like humans and other animals, are special and unique. Each cat breed has characteristics, such as weight, that are peculiar to it. Healthy and optimal weights differ from one cat breed to another. The average healthy weight for a cat also varies according to gender and age.
It is said that a cat with a healthy weight should have an hourglass figure, shouldn't have a saggy belly hanging down, and should be able to feel its ribs. You can use the body condition scoring system publicized by the World Small Animal Veterinarian Association (WSAVA) to determine if your cat has a healthy weight. The system is based on:
- How well you can see your cat's ribs.
- If the cat has a visible waist behind the ribs and before the legs.
- How far down a cat's belly hangs.
Factors Affecting Cat's Weight
Cats, just like humans, can gain and lose weight as they either age or due to a change in their diet. There are a lot of issues that can affect a cat's weight. These factors include:
- Internal factors such as inflammatory bowel disease, lung disease, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism
- Parasitic worms.
- Lack of exercise.
Average Cat Weight
The average weight for a cat is dependent on its gender, age, body frame, lifestyle, and breed. Sometimes, the male cats might be slightly bigger than female cats, but the difference isn't significant. A considerable difference in cat's weights is observed when comparing a kitten to an adult cat or a large breed to a small breed.
The average adult male and female cat weight are, more or less, 11 pounds. An adult Maine Coon cat can weigh as much as 25 pounds, while an average adult Himalayan cat can weigh as little as 7 pounds. Kittens can weigh between 2.2 pounds to 4.5 pounds, and their weight increases till they reach adulthood at 7-12 months.
Cat Gaining Weight
Chubby cats may look cute, but obesity and extra weight are not healthy for cats. Obese cats might have problems with grooming themselves, putting them at risk of different health issues.
Excess weight or obesity in cats can cause lesser playtimes and, subsequently, depression. It can also shorten the cat's life expectancy and put your cat at high risk of developing severe and life-threatening health conditions such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, breathing problems, and bladder cancer. Even if your cat shows no apparent signs of weight gain, it is still essential to go to the veterinarian regularly for a check-up to maintain your cat's ideal weight.
You can carry out simple tests to know if your cat has a healthy weight, even without going to the veterinarian. If a cat's ribs are hard or almost impossible to feel when you place your hands by its sides, then your cat may be overweight. Other signs that can be evident when your cat is fat includes loss of noticeable waist, an ever-tightening collar that needs loosening, slow movement and difficulty in walking, inability to roll over, shortness of breath, and very frequent naps.
Many contributing factors could lead to weight gain in your cats, such as breed, age, gender, neutering and spaying, overfeeding, overeating, lack of exercise, and medical issues.
How To Help Your Cat Lose Weight?
A visit to the veterinarian for a check-up to ensure that your cat's weight gain is not due to any underlying medical condition is the first step to helping your cat lose the extra weight. Other things to include are:
Change in diet
A sudden change in diet can cause stress for pets, including cats, so it is recommended that you do this gradually. Start by mixing 25% of the new food with 75% of the old food. Then you can increase the new diet to 50% while decreasing the old one to 50%. Continue increasing and decreasing the proportions of the new and old food, respectively, until your cat's diet consists of only the new food. Wet canned diet foods are the best kind of weight loss cat foods.
Create more playtime for your cat
Increasing your cat's activities is a sure way to help it lose weight. You can make or buy toys for your cat to encourage exercise. Provision of trees and obstacles for climbing, playing with them, and going for walks are also ways to help your cat lose weight.
Your cat's natural hunting instinct can also be used. You can hide small rations of the cat's food in various parts of the house and encourage the cat to find it. If your home has stairs, make sure the cat uses the stairs. Be careful, though, not to exhaust or overheat the fat cat. And remember that an older cat might not be able to exercise intensely.
Ration the amount of food you feed your cat
Reducing the amount of food you feed your cat is another way to help it lose weight. You can start by rationing the daily portion by 25% and then keep reducing it by 10% every 2-3 weeks until the cat loses about 1% of its initial weight.
You can also try dividing one large meal into several small meals to be fed twice a day and pick up whatever your cat doesn't eat 30 minutes after every meal.
Place your cat on a weight maintenance plan
If your cat is overweight during your check-up, the veterinarian may suggest a change in your cat's diet to one designed specifically for weight management.
Cat foods, such as corn and sorghum, are the best for weight loss (unlike rice). They contain slowly digested carbohydrates and cause lower blood sugar and insulin levels, thus helping maintain a cat's proper weight.
Instead of food treats, you can try using playtimes, grooming, and striking to reward your cat for good behavior. Resist the urge to feed your cat "people food" from your dinner table. If you can't resist the urge to feed your cat from your plate, keep the cat in another room during every meal.
When Your Cat Is Losing Weight?
A skinny cat doesn't mean a medical emergency. However, if you think your cat is too thin, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. Prominent ribs are a sign of an underweight cat.
Cats losing weight might be from a deficient diet or using up more calories than they eat. Some diseases affecting cats will require them to consume more calories to maintain their weight. Older cats (older than 10 years) can also lose weight due to age-related decline in digestive functions. This is because of the cat's need for a change in nutrition.
Weight loss, even when feeding well, is an indicator of disease in cats. Hyperthyroidism, very common in older cats, is characterized by losing weight even when eating well. Other conditions that can cause sudden weight loss in cats include inflammatory bowel disease that affects how food nutrients are absorbed, dental disease, cancer, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, pancreatitis.
Weight loss in cats can be prevented by regularly monitoring the cat's body condition and check-ups with the veterinarian. The cause of weight loss in cats determines the treatment option to be used. Depending on the findings from examinations conducted on your cat, the vet may prescribe medications, surgery, diet change, or other forms of treatment.
How To Help A Cat Gain Weight?
Most of the time, the reason for your cat's weight loss determines what you can do to help reverse it. Therefore, you should consult your vet for advice. You can also help your cat gain weight using the following tips:
- Try a new cat food: If your cat's weight loss is due to poor feeding, you can solve this by introducing your cat to a tastier diet that has a different texture from the old one. This may encourage the cat to eat more. Don't forget to check the nutritional content of the food.
Dry food is the best for when you are trying to get your cat to gain weight. Go for foods high in fat and calories, made with many animal ingredients and a limited amount of plant-based products.
- Feed frequently in small portions: Due to the ping-pong size of a cat's stomach, your cat might not be able to consume a lot of food at once. Whatever food your cat enjoys, try feeding the cat one tablespoon of food every few hours. This is better than large meals at once, increasing the risk of vomiting and continuous weight loss. Also, cats prefer to graze and nimble on their food than eat it all at once.
- Try warming up your cat's food: Use your cat's sense of smell to your advantage. Heating the cat's food can make it more enticing as the smell of the food stimulates cats. You can also add a few drops of fish oil into the food to make it more aromatic. Cats love the smell of fish.
In the absence of any underlying health problems, the steps in the article can be used to help your cat lose or gain weight, depending on its current status.
Hopefully, this article helped you understand your cat and its weight indications better. Please, do not forget to check out our best pet products reviews. Here, you will find everything that fits your budget and your cat’s taste.
How to help a cat lose weight?
The first step to helping a cat lose weight is visiting your veterinarian to make sure your cat has no medical conditions that could contribute to weight fluctuations. You can also try modifying food rations. Divide a large meal into smaller portions of at least two meals a day is an excellent option. Making sure your cat plays actively and goes for walks and exercises can help your cat lose weight. Also, change the reward for good behavior from food treats to playtime and grooming.
Why is my cat losing weight?
A cat losing weight even when feeding well could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Gastrointestinal problems like food allergens, inflammatory bowel disease, and intestinal parasites could be the reason for the weight loss in your cat. Diabetes and hyperthyroidism could also be contributors. Do well to visit your veterinarian.
How to get a cat to gain weight?
First, check with your veterinarian to know what's best for your cat. The best way to help your cat gain weight is by feeding it the food it prefers and ensuring it meets the cat's nutritional needs. Feed your cat smaller meals frequently and offer more food treats.
What is a healthy weight for a cat?
Various cat breeds have different weight ranges. However, the average adult weight for cats should be about 10 pounds (4.4kg). The body frame of the cat and its age can make its healthy weight above or below this average weight.