Now that you are a cat parent, you want what's best for your fur-baby and keeping your cat at its optimal health. It's no secret that the human prevalence of obesity has risen dramatically over the last few decades, and cat obesity is also a growing problem. And according to vets, it is a prominent health issue among domestic cats.
Whether you are a first cat parent or an experienced owner, you are probably wondering how you know if your cat is overweight or underweight? What does the average cat weigh, or if your cat is within a healthy weight range? At one point, you may be discussing how to maintain a healthy weight or reach the ideal weight of your cat with your veterinarian.
In this article, we will share with you everything about cat weight, address any questions you may have and tips on how to help your cat to reach it's ideal weight.
What is a Cat's Healthy Weight
So, what is considered a healthy, average cat weight, and how much should a cat weigh? Well, it depends. The average healthy cat weight is anywhere between 7 to 12 pounds, but this number is not set in stone. Many factors can affect a healthy cat's weight, such as gender, breed, and age.
Before you go ahead and weigh your cat, remember, bodyweight by itself does not assess the degree of obesity in your cat or your cat's health. Ideal weight depends on stature and breed. In other words, healthy body weight for one individual may be inappropriate for another. For example, a 10-pound Domestic Short Hair is a lot different than a 10-pound Maine Coon. However, most veterinary professionals can agree that healthy, lean cats have a body fat percentage, on average, between 10% and 30%, while obese cats have a body fat percentage above 30%.
Average Weight Of A Male Cat
The average cat weight of a male cat is between 11-15 pounds (1). Male cats tend to be slightly larger than female cats. They tend to have bigger frames to carry more fat and muscles than a female cat.
Average Weight Of A Female Cat
The average cat weight of a female cat is between 8-12 pounds (2). A female cat's weight may fluctuate more than a male cat, especially if she is not spayed.
When a female is pregnant, she would and should gain weight. The average weight a pregnant cat can gain is between two to four pounds, which she will lose 40% off during delivery (3). And she will lose the remaining excess weight during the laborious feeding of her young.
Heaviest Cat Breed
Large breed cat-like Savannah or Maine Coon is on the top spot for the heaviest cat breed. The larger breed cat can weigh on average between 11-25 pounds.
Lightest Cat Breed
Smaller breeds like Singapura or Munchkin cat can weigh between 4-6 pounds.
How To Determine If Your Cat's Weight Is Over or Under
Body condition scoring systems, such as the one created by Hill's Pet Care, use a combination of a visual and tactile exam to estimate a cat's body fat index based on a nine-point scale system.
To be considered within the normal range using Hills' Healthy Weight Protocol, ribs must be prominent and easily palpated. One must easily be able to palpate abdominal contents, a slight to moderate abdominal tuck, and a marked hourglass waistline when viewed from above. Body condition scores (BCS) are graded on a scale of 1 to 9, with the ideal being a 5/9. Every unit increase in BCS above ideal is approximately a 10-15% increase above ideal. For example, a cat with a BCS of 8/9 is 30-45% above ideal body weight.
What Are The Health Risks Of Overweight Cats
Weight gain in healthy cats can occur subtly over the year, so it is good to pay attention to your cat's weight. Previous studies from many developed countries estimate the prevalence of feline obesity to be anywhere between 11.5% and 63% of all cats (4,5,6,7,8). Why the large range in percentages? As mentioned before, these studies have been performed in a variety of countries where risk factors and prevalence of overweight or obese cats may not all be the same from region to region. There are many factors that can contribute to feline obesity, including breed, age, gender, living conditions, neuter status, distribution of food on a free-choice basis, and even the owner's perception of their cat's body condition.
Increased body fat can lead to various health conditions and even serious health issues in our feline companions, including arthritis, diabetes, kidney disease, pancreatitis, increased risk of injuries, cancer, and more. It's estimated that 13-18% of all feline diabetes cases would be eliminated if overweight or obese cats lost enough weight to be considered in the normal range (9). Being overweight doubles a cat's chances to develop diabetes, while obese cats are four times as likely to develop the disease. Obese cats are also five times as likely as lean cats to develop lameness. Extrapolating data from dog studies, the majority of owners felt that their pet's quality of life increased while signs of pain decreased once weight loss was achieved.
What To Feed Your Underweight Cat For Weight Gain
While obesity is a prominent health issue among cats, some cats are struggling to be underweight. Just like losing weight, gaining weight can also be tricky. Before you increase feed, first, you need to determine why your cat is losing weight by visiting a veterinarian.
Once it is determined why your cat is struggling with weight gain and your cat's health, you can create an action plan with your veterinarian on what you can do to help your cat to reach the desired healthy cat weight.
4 Tips for helping You Overweight Cats to a Healthy Weight
With serious consequences to cat obesity, one should strive to maintain healthy body weight for their cat. Try some of the techniques listed below, and make sure to consult your veterinarian before helping your overweight cat to lose weight. While the beginning stages of a weight loss program may be difficult, the benefits are truly worth it.
Decrease caloric intake
The first step may be fairly obvious but decreasing the number of calories your cat is eating is a good start. Cat owners should be feeding the number of calories for the weight that their cat should weigh instead of what they already weigh. Caution should be exercised, however, in caloric restriction (i.e., with veterinary supervision) as some cats can develop hepatic lipidosis if the caloric restriction is too severe. Cats can safely lose about 0.5% to 2% of their body weight per week.
For owners that like to give their cat treats frequently, treats should be limited. Try taking some of your cat's allotted food for the day and setting that aside as a treat portion. That way, you're not adding in extra calories and still having the satisfaction of giving "treats."
Trying a weight loss diet
Speak to your veterinarian about a weight loss diet that contains fewer calories and/or increased fiber to make them feel fuller. Feeding a diet designed for feline weight loss can reduce the risk of malnutrition. A good weight loss diet should contain 5 grams of protein per kilogram of total body weight per day.
Opt-In For Feed wet food
Cats are obligate carnivores therefore, a meat-based high-moisture content food will be appropriate. Canned cat foods tend to have higher protein and fewer carbohydrates than dry kibble, which may also help keep your cat feeling full. Cats also do not have as high of a thirst drive as dogs, so feeding wet food will help ensure that your cat stays hydrated.
Spend at least a few minutes each day getting your cat moving. Using interactive toys such as laser pointers and feather wands can stimulate your cat to encourage lots of movement. Hiding your cat's food or treats in a food toy (e.g. food puzzles or treat ball) can increase movement as well as alleviate boredom. Having strategically placed cat condos, cat walls, and trees around the house can also make use of your vertical space to encourage climbing, burning even more calories. Another option is to invest in a cat harness and leash and take your feline friend out for a stroll outside.
Tips For Helping Cat To Gain Weight
Once you have sorted out with your vet what medicine your underweight cat may need and came up with an action plan together, here are a few tips to help get your cat to gain weight to reach a healthy weight safely.
Feed Small, Frequently
It is normal for cats to eat smaller, regular meals than large meals. By offering smaller and more frequent meals can reduce the risk of vomiting after a year.
Warm Up The Food
Cats are notorious for being picky eaters. By warming up, their wet food can stimulate them to eat by the smell. Be sure to use fresh canned food, as some cats don't like any leftovers.
To warm up wet food, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it up for a few seconds. The food should be warm and not hot. The optimal temperature is their body temperature 38.5*C.
Right Snacks Between Meals
Adding the right and healthy snack to your cat's diet can help them to put on some weight. When choosing the right snack, go for the high-protein snacks.
Create a stress-free environment
Cats are very sensitive to their environment. Especially if they are sick and unwell, they want to be left alone. Your cat will most likely eat better if you give it some personal space with no environmental stressors, such as other animals around the house.