Is your cat fat or thin?

Photo: by Dan Perry

Veterinarians typically use one of two body condition scoring systems to determine whether your feline friend is overweight, just right or even underweight. Both body condition scoring systems are easily found online, complete with pictures of how underweight, ideal weight, overweight and obese cats look from different viewpoints. You can compare your cat to the scoring system’s pictures to get an idea of your kitty’s body condition score. You can also determine if your cat has an appropriate body condition by using the following approach:

  1. Can you easily feel your cat’s ribs? Run your hands along your cat’s sides as if you’re petting it. If you can feel their ribs using only slight pressure, your cat is likely at an ideal weight. But if you need to apply pressure to feel the ribs, then your kitty is likely overweight or worse.

  2. Does your cat have an easily identifiable “waist”? When you look down from above your cat, do you see an hourglass shape with a waist between their abdomen and hip joints? Does their belly slope upward from the ribs to the back legs when you look from the side? Or does their belly apron (the skin of their tummy just in front of their back legs) swing when they trot or run? If your cat’s abdomen is wider than their shoulders or hips, chances are they are overweight.
  3. Is your kitty’s back flat? Do you feel matted or greasy fur or see dandruff down the middle of your cat’s lower back? Overweight or obese cats may look like they have a potbelly or even an egg shape when sitting. If your cat isn’t grooming their hips or lower back, they are most likely overweight.

If you have a fat cat, you’re not alone. More importantly, you’ve taken an important first step toward addressing the problem — you’ve recognized it. Your next step is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian, who can determine if there’s an underlying medical reason for your cat’s extra weight and create an appropriate weight management program to help your kitty achieve their ideal weight and body condition. Members of the veterinary healthcare team can provide support and encouragement along your cat’s weight loss journey.


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