We love our cats. And sometimes, that means we like to spoil them. However, it can be easy for cats to gain weight if they’re getting too many treats, not enough exercise, or are eating too much food. So if you’ve ever looked at your fluffball and wondered, “How heavy should my cat be?” — we’ve got you covered.
In short, an ideal cat weight can depend on factors like age and breed, but there’s no specific number that applies to every cat.
Weight gain or loss isn’t always food-related either. Both overweight and underweight cats may also be experiencing underlying health conditions that are causing their unhealthy weight. Read on to learn what a healthy cat weight is, how to tell if your cat is underweight or overweight, and how to get them to an ideal weight.
Generally, the average domestic cat should weigh approximately 8 – 10 pounds.1 However, a healthy weight for a cat can vary based on factors like age, sex, breed, activity level, and underlying health conditions.
The average cat weight for a larger breed will likely be more than the average weight for a smaller breed. For example, a Maine coon could weigh up to 18 pounds, whereas a Siamese could weigh only 6 pounds. If you have a mixed breed cat, pinpointing a healthy weight could be harder, especially if the breed mix is a larger cat and a smaller cat combined. Add in the fact that females typically weigh less than males, and you’re starting to see how there isn’t just one number that’s considered a normal cat weight.
To figure out what a healthy weight for your cat is, talk with your veterinarian.
It’s important for your cat to be at a healthy weight because it can help them feel their best, get around easier, and potentially live longer. In fact, the mortality rate in obese cats is almost three times higher than it is for lean cats.2 And since 50% of cats in America ages 5 – 11 are considered overweight, it’s easy to see why preventing obesity may be in the forefront of pet parents’ minds.2
In terms of obesity, a healthy cat weight helps decrease their risk of developing diseases or making symptoms of certain diseases worse. This can include:2
- Arthritis and other joint problems
- High blood pressure
- Urinary bladder stones
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
While not as common as being overweight, cats that are underweight aren’t exempt from problems either. They may have underlying health conditions — like liver failure, hyperthyroidism, pancreatitis, or kidney disease — contributing to their weight issues.3 No matter what side of the weight spectrum your cat is on, making sure they’re at an ideal weight can help keep them healthier into their golden years.
Along with a thorough physical examination, vets will likely use a nine-point scoring system to help determine if your cat is at a healthy weight.4 A saggy belly or round midsection can be easy ways to tell if your cat is overweight just by looking at them. In addition to a target weight range, vets usually take into account your cat’s overall health (since there could be underlying health conditions causing weight gain or loss) to see if they’re at an ideal weight.
You can also assess your cat’s physique at home using a scoring system similar to what vets use to determine if your cat is overweight or underweight.2 You’ll need to look at your cat’s side profile and overhead, as well as examine and feel their ribs to compare your cat’s figure to a body condition scoring chart. If your cat resembles a number closer to one, they may be underweight. If your cat resembles a number closer to nine, they’re likely obese.
If your cat is overweight, talk to your vet to come up with a weight-reduction program to treat your cat’s obesity. Gradual weight loss is typically what you’ll aim for, so your cat doesn’t develop serious health conditions (like liver disease) if they lose weight too quickly.4 Below are some things you can do to help with cat weight loss.
Keeping a steady supply of food in your cat’s bowl and allowing them to eat whenever they please can lead to weight gain. Instead, set up a specific meal time and only feed them the amount of food your vet recommends. If you normally give your cat lots of treats, it may be a good idea to cut back.
If your cat eats their food too quickly, getting them a food puzzle or feeding ball can help pace their eating and increase activity at the same time. You can also try moving their bowl around to different areas of your home for each meal. If you have multiple cats, feed them separately to prevent overweight cats from stealing other cats’ food.
You can try feeding your overweight cat wet food instead of dry — it’s higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates, which can help cats lose weight.4 Ask your vet for their recommendation because they may advise placing your cat on a special diet food. If you’re worried about the cost, you may be able to get food that has been prescribed by your vet covered by a MetLife Pet cat insurance policy.5,6