Helping cats and dogs live their healthiest lives.
Sacred Birman kitten and Yorkshire Terrier adult standing in black and white on a white background

Healthy weight isn't only measured on a scale

Weighing your cat is not the only way to check if they're overweight. You can find out if your cat's a healthy weight and shape, by asking your Vet about Body Condition Scoring.

British Shorthair adult in black and white with Body Conditioning Score illustration
Grey and white cat sitting down while owner feels its ribs

What is body condition scoring?

Vets use Body Condition Scoring to make it easier to check whether your cat is overweight, underweight or at ideal weight and shape. However, weighing a cat isn't always enough to determine if they are a healthy shape, so the score assesses how they look and feel.

The body condition score uses a 9-point system that goes from severely underweight at 1 to obese at 9. The three key factors assessed for the score are your cat’s ribs, waist and abdomen. A cat with a score of 4 or 5, is at ideal weight and shape. This means they’re well proportioned with ribs you can easily feel, a waist you can see from above and an abdomen that tucks up behind their rib cage when seen from the side.

Your vet can help you work out your cat’s body condition score. It’s also important to take your cat for regular visits so they can help you continually monitor your cats shape as they age.

What are the signs my cat is overweight?

Cats are considered to be overweight when they’re 10% to 20% over their ideal weight, but it’s easy to overlook this – especially if the weight creeps on over time. The best way to keep track is by taking a regular 3-step look-feel-weigh approach.

First, look at your cat’s behaviour. Are they somewhat lethargic and get tired quickly? How visible is their waist and the tuck of their abdomen behind the ribs? Next, check their ribs. Using light pressure, how easily can you feel them? How much pressure do you have to use to feel them? Thirdly, weigh your cat and make a note so you can compare it next time you weigh them. Your vet can give you an indication of your cat's ideal weight based on their current weight and using their body condition score.

This kind of monitoring is vital as an overweight cat is at greater risk of a number of serious and life-changing conditions, including a shortened life expectancy, diabetes, osteoarthritis and urinary tract disease. Keeping your cat in ideal weight and shape is key to helping support their overall health and wellbeing.

Maine Coon cat lying down on a tiled floor indoors
Adult cat laying down on a cat tree playing with a toy

How to help your overweight cat lose weight

Fortunately, it’s possible to help your cat lose weight. Helping your cat return to their ideal weight will help to improve their quality of life, and cats at ideal weight have also been shown to live longer than those who are overweight or obese.

Cats become overweight when they eat more calories than they use, so the first thing to address is their food. Ask your vet about diets formulated to support weight loss in overweight cats, as simply reducing their daily food ration, reduces the likelihood of them getting all the nutrients they need. Stick to the portion size on the pack and give them a space to eat alone. Cats are solitary hunters and shared feeding spaces could lead to stress-induced issues such as overeating.

Regular physical activity is also essential for keeping your cat in healthy shape and for their overall wellbeing. Give them plenty of toys and things to climb, particularly if they’re kept mainly indoors, and play games with them regularly each day.

Speak to your vet

It’s always best to speak to your vet if you have any concerns or questions about your cat’s weight or shape. They can confirm whether or not your cat is overweight and will be happy to advise you on what you can do to help them lose weight.

It’s also important to speak to your vet before you make any changes to your cat’s diet or lifestyle.

No two cats are the same, so your vet can give you advice tailored to your cat as an individual. This will be based not just on their breed, age and sex, but on factors such as any existing health conditions and whether or not they’ve been neutered.

Ginger adult cat sat on weighing scales in a vet practice
Adult Russian running outside on long grass.

How to help your cat lose weight

Adult cat sitting down indoors eating from a silver bowl.

How to help your cat gain weight

Adult cat lying down indoors on a wooden floor playing with a cat toy.

​Keeping your cat at a healthy weight

Adult Abyssinian standing indoors looking away from a white bowl.

Why is my cat losing weight?

Healthy growth lasts a lifetime

Losing weight is more challenging than maintaining a healthy weight in the first place, so it's important that healthy habits and behaviours are introduced from day one.

Healthy Growth
Maine Coon kitten in black and white lying down in front of a growth curve illustration

Healthy activity requires play

Playtime is key to keeping your cat stimulated, active and at a healthy weight. The amount of exercise they need will vary depending upon their age, weight and breed.

Healthy Activity
British Shorthair adult jumping in black and white with a red ball with a stop watch illustration behind