Health & care

How to tell if you have an underweight or overweight cat

Date updated: 23 11 2018

As your favourite furry family member, your cat’s wellbeing is important. So to help it stay healthy and happy, it’s a good idea to check its weight from time to time. Being overweight or underweight can be a sign that a cat is developing health problems, and can lead to nasty ailments like diabetes and arthritis.

The good news is that you don’t need to get your kitty on a scale to check its weight. Just do the simple body condition check described below – and combine with a cuddle for maximum purr power!

1. Feel your cat’s ribs

Run a hand gently over your cat’s side. If you can’t feel its ribs, or it feels like there is a big layer of fat over them, you might just have an overweight cat. On the other hand, if you feel too much rib, that’s also a problem. You should be able to feel some flesh between its skin and ribs – if it seems like there’s nothing there, kitty is underweight.

2. Feel around your cat’s spine

Perform the same test on your cat’s spine. Again, you should be able to feel the bones, but not excessively. If the vertebrae feel very knobbly or like there’s nothing on top of them, your cat is underweight. If they’re difficult to feel, you have an overweight cat. Just don’t tell it that its bum looks big..

Your cat’s fur and skin should also tuck in nicely around its undercarriage – but looser skin in this area is normal in older cats.

What to do if you have an underweight or overweight cat

If you have a slightly overweight cat, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has a serious problem – cats love a nosh, and can easily overeat. Before taking your cat to the vet, think about whether you could have been feeding it too much – have you been a bit too generous with food or treats recently?

The same applies to an underweight cat. Although this can be a sign of illness, your cat could also lose weight if you’re away from home a lot and not feeding it enough. If in any doubt, talk to your vet – especially if you have noticed any other strange behaviour in your pet.