Overweight cats are predisposed to a range of very unpleasant diseases and health conditions; diabetes, heart disease and arthritis to name but a few say International Cat Care. There is also evidence that being overweight or obese decreases the quality of life and leads to an early death in cats. More information from International Cat Care on the health risks associated with feline obesity.
Up to 52% of cats in the UK are now overweight or obese and over 60% of vets (surveyed by the British Veterinary Association) say that obesity is the biggest health and welfare concern for pets. ‘Obese’ cats are those that are at least 20 per cent heavier than the optimal weight due to excessive fat accumulation.
Overweight cats – How to determine whether your cat is overweight, underweight or at a healthy weight
Bodyweight can be used to assess whether or not a cat has gained or lost weight. However, a cat’s ideal weight depends on the age and breed of the cat. Therefore, a scale assessing the fat reserves (layers of fat covering the body) a cat has is often used. This is known as a body condition score (BCS) system.
Body Condition Score system for cats
A commonly-used BCS system grades the ‘fatness’ of the cat from 1-5, where a score of 1 is very thin, 3 is ideal and 5 is obese. An obese cat is one for which the ribs are hard to feel as they are covered by a thick layer of fat, there is a moderate to thick layer of fat covering the bony parts of the cat such as the spine and pelvis, and the cat has a bulge of fat hanging down from its stomach, which may swing as the cat moves, with no waist.
This chart shows you how to assign a BCS to your cat, so you can tell whether it is underweight, overweight, obese or just right. You should regularly monitor your cat’s BCS to make sure they remain at an ideal, healthy weight – if you notice any changes, speak to your vet, or click here for further advice on feeding your kitten or cat.
Scheduling a routine check-up with your vet is also an effective way to get started and don’t be afraid to ask your vet whether they think your pet is at a healthy weight.
With cat obesity, as with many conditions, prevention is better than cure!