cat lover style logo
cat is overweight

So, You Think Your Cat is Overweight?

Fat cats have long been a source of humor for people, especially on the internet. However, seriously overweight cats aren’t always something to laugh at. Obesity in cats can cause significant health problems over time including an increased risk of cancer, bladder stones, and arthritis in addition to mobility issues. Obesity in the long run can result in a shorter life for your sweet kitty, which isn’t fair for either of you.

Luckily, there are things you can do to help your cat stay healthy, even if they are currently overweight. Below, we’ll talk more about cat obesity, including some of the causes, symptoms, and treatments you should be aware of.

overweight cat causes

Common Causes of Feline Obesity

The most common cause of overweight cats is overfeeding. Cats love to eat, so lots of cats don’t necessarily know when to stop eating after you feed them. This is why gravity feeders aren’t always the best choice for cats. With gravity feeders, your cats have constant access to food, but you can’t control how much they eat throughout the day.

Overfeeding isn’t the only cause of cats becoming overweight, though. In fact, there are several other causes of feline obesity including:

  • Diet quality

  • Medication

  • Low exercise

  • Slow metabolism

  • Aging

If your cat is overweight, you’ll want to take a closer look at all of their care so you can try to pinpoint the cause of their obesity. If you can’t find it, you should bring your overweight cat to the vet for an examination. Sudden weight gain, when your cat’s routine hasn’t changed, could be a sign of illness and should be assessed immediately.

Diet Quality

Sometimes, weight gain in cats isn’t because of overfeeding but a result of a poor quality diet. Not all cat food is made equal. Often, budget cat foods are made with lots of filler ingredients that make it cheap to produce but offer little nutritional value to your kitty. Too much filler could result in your cat being more hungry throughout the day, which could may cause overfeeding. It could also lead to weight gain if your cat’s food is high in calories for a single serving.

Always make sure you review the ingredients of your cat’s food before serving it to your kitty. Look for foods that contain lots of vitamins and nutrients. Choose more organic products that are high in protein. Those with cheap fillers such as corn meal, rice, and soy are not the ideal choice. Meat byproducts are also low in nutrients and don’t fully disclose what’s actually in your cat’s food, so try to avoid these options as the main ingredient.

Cat food that is high in vitamins, minerals, and protein with natural ingredients including meat and vegetables is the healthiest for your cats. If you aren’t sure what food to pick, talk to your vet about the best options out there.

Medication

Sometimes, medication can lead to weight gain in cats. If your cat has started a new medication recently, that could be causing their obesity. If you notice this change in your cat, talk to your vet and see if there are other medication options for your cat. If not, you should try to make some lifestyle choices for them to combat the medication’s side effects.

Not Enough Exercise

If your cat doesn’t exercise enough, this could lead to them becoming overweight. Since they’re eating but not burning calories, your cats will put on more fat than cats that exercise off their caloric intake. This is especially the case for indoor cats that don’t have much space to run around and explore. If your cat is particularly lazy, there are things you can do to encourage them to exercise. We’ll talk about some of those below under Lifestyle Changes.

Slow Metabolism

Some cats have slower metabolisms than others, which leads them to naturally put on more weight than their fellow felines. If your cat’s metabolism seems to be slower than other cats, you’ll have to adjust their diet and exercise to account for this. More exercise and healthier diets can sometimes help to speed up your cat’s metabolism, but you’ll have to keep track of this long-term to see if it makes any lasting changes to your cat’s weight.

Aging

Cats that are older typically have slower metabolisms and aren’t as active as younger cats. This low activity level can result in some weight gain that they may have not had before. If this is the case with your cat, consider reducing their meal portions or finding a diet specially made for elderly cats to prevent weight gain.

You may also look for elderly-friendly activities for your cat to play and exercise that are more gentle on their joints than typical running, jumping, and climbing. Simply walking with your elderly kitty is a great way to help them move around and stay healthy.

overweight signs and symptoms

Telltale Signs and Symptoms of Overweight Cats

Besides just observing your cat’s size, there are a few different ways you can tell if your cat is overweight. Some of these signs include:

  • Difficulty walking up stairs or jumping on furniture

  • Sleeping more often

  • Inability to feel hip or rib bones

  • Inability to see a clear waistline

  • Collar suddenly too tight

  • Dirty coat around areas your cat can’t reach to clean

The first thing you should do is check your cat’s body by gently prodding for their hips and ribs. If you struggle to distinctly feel these bones, your cat is likely overweight. Cats that are a healthy weight will have ribs and hips that can be felt easily by their owners.

If your cat is overweight, they will have difficulty with mobility and fitting through areas they used to fit through, such as tube toys or cat trees. They will also be reluctant to play due to fatigue. You may notice areas of their coat remaining unkempt due to their inability to lick parts of their bodies clean. Only by helping your cat lose weight can you reverse these issues!

overweight cat health concerns

Health Concerns of Cat Obesity

Cats that are overweight don’t just have mobility issues. Extra weight and obesity can lead to a number of other health problems in your cat including higher risk for:

  • Cancer

  • Heart disease

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Arthritis

  • Bladder stones

  • Liver disease

  • Skin infections

Many of these conditions can be fatal in cats. To keep your cat happy and healthy and give them a long life, you should make sure you take all precautions necessary to prevent your cat from becoming overweight. If your cat is already overweight, you should talk to your vet about making changes to your cat’s lifestyle to help them lose weight and improve their quality of life.

If your cat is experiencing any serious symptoms including shortness of breath, noises of pain, external redness or discharge, vomiting, diarrhea, or reluctance to move, you should bring them to your vet for a full examination. This exam could save your cat’s life.

Cats that are experiencing these issues may experience additional weight gain during treatment for these conditions. It’s important that you watch for any side effects including additional weight gain or fatigue, as they could make your cat’s condition worse. Your vet will help you determine the best treatment options for your cat to improve their quality of life as much as possible.

obese cat lifestyle changes

Lifestyle Changes

If you want to prevent your cat from developing serious health issues due to being overweight, you’ll have to start with making some lifestyle changes for your cat. These lifestyle changes primarily revolve around diet and exercise. Learn the type of diet your cat needs to lose weight and how you can motivate your cat to play and exercise more.

Dietary Needs

Most cats only need around ⅓ to ½ of a cup of dry food per day as long as your food is high-quality and contains a high amount of protein. High-quality cat food typically has around 500 calories per cup, and most cats only need around 250 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight. If you’re inadvertently overfeeding your cat, you should reduce the amount you feed them at meal time. If you feed your cat twice a day, you’ll only have to give them ⅙ to ¼ of a cup of food per meal!

However, these numbers change if you also feed your cat wet food. Most vets recommend feeding your cat both wet and dry food, as wet food can provide more nutrients and help keep your cat hydrated. This extra hydration can prevent hairballs and bladder stones. Vets typically suggest feeding your cat 50/50 dry food and wet food. So if you feed your cat 2.5 ounces of wet food per day (around half a can), you should only feed them ¼ of a cup of dry food maximum. Sticking to these numbers can help prevent the chances of your cat getting overweight.

You should also check your cat’s food ingredients to make sure it doesn’t contain many fillers and has the correct vitamins and minerals. If your cat’s food is higher than 500 calories per cup, you should adjust your serving size accordingly.

Exercising Your Cat

One way to help your cat keep the extra pounds off is by encouraging them to exercise. One easy way you can do this is by providing your cat lots of toys and space to play in your home. Consider getting them toy mice, balls, catnip pouches, scratching posts, and a cat tree if you have the space. These will encourage your cats to run, hunt, and climb, which can help them burn off extra calories. You can also play with your cat using feathers and dangling stick toys to encourage them to run and jump.

If toys don’t entice your cat, or if your cat is extremely obese and struggles to play, you can start with simple encouragement to exercise by placing lots of small bowls of food throughout your house. This will encourage your overweight kitty to walk throughout your home to find its food. However, you should make sure each bowl only has a little food in it, so you aren’t feeding them beyond their total daily food amount.

overweight veterinary advice

Veterinary Advice

If at-home methods for cat weight loss are not working, you should speak to your vet about your method and alternative options to help your cat lose weight. They may recommend food designed specifically for overweight cats or encourage you to feed your cat on a different schedule. If your cat’s weight gain is a result of a different health problem, they can help treat that issue in conjunction with adapting your cat’s diet and exercise plan.

For cats that are extremely obese, your vet may recommend physical therapy at their location or a recommended outpatient clinic. These professionals may help your cat exercise using devices such as treadmills. Some locations may even have your cat walk on a treadmill in water, which tends to burn more calories in less time. However, this should only be used as a last resort as it can really rack up in cost over time!

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, you need to do what’s best for you and your kitty. That may mean reevaluating your cat’s diet in both quality and quantity. It’s important to note that if your cat’s overweightness comes from you incorrectly feeding them, it’s not too late to make a change. Sometimes the best changes we make in life are thanks to new information, so it’s important to be willing to learn and make adjustments for your cat’s health.

Preventing your cat from becoming overweight in the first place will make you and your cat’s lives easier in the long run. Make sure you follow your cat’s dietary needs closely and encourage them to play with you. Cats that can run, play, and explore are happy kitties that are more likely to live long lives. To keep your furry friend with you as long as possible, care for them responsibly with love.

Thanks to Lex Leigh for This Article!

Please Share This Page!

Like Cat Lover Style? Type in your email and hit send. We’ll let you know about new posts.

Our Siamese Rescue
Our Happy Girl Today

Hello and welcome! I’m a genuine cat lover and devoted parent of two adorable kitties. As you can see, cat adoption is meaningful for me. I believe it’s a humane and loving option. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the people who operate rescue shelters. To show my gratitude for their selfless dedication, I’ve designed this website to help enlighten potential feline owners and raise awareness for cat adoption. Please join me and other cat lovers in our efforts to ensure every kitty has a happy, healthy life!

Please consider adoption. So many cats need loving homes. You can be their hero! Visit No-Kill Rescue Shelters

Cat Lover Style

Copyright © 2020-2023