|Overview How to determine if a cat is the correct weight Causes of weight loss in cats Causes of weight gain in cats How much should a cat eat?|
Cats don’t vary in size as much as dogs do, however, there can be quite a difference between breeds of cat. Some are small and muscular, some are long and lean, some are large and solid. The answer is on a par with how long is a piece of string? It can be narrowed down, but it is still dependent on the build of the individual cat.
I personally have four cats ranging in weight from 3.8 kg to 6 kg. Three are oriental type breeds and one domestic shorthair. The 3.8 kg Tonkinese is on the small side and the 6 kg cat is on the large side (and needs monitoring to make sure he doesn’t gain more weight).
|Small to medium cats or breeds||4 to 6 kg (8.8 to 13 pounds)|
|Large cats or breeds||6-11 kg (13 to 24 pounds)|
The number on the scales can give you a general picture of your cat’s weight, however as we have already noted, cats come in all shapes and sizes and therefore instead of focusing entirely on a number on the scales, a better way to determine if your cat is overweight or underweight is to go by look and feel.
- You should just be able to feel the ribs when you run your hands along your cat’s sides but they should have a thin covering of fat over them. Ribs which can easily be seen or felt are an indicator your cat is underweight. If you can’t feel the ribs at all, he is overweight.
- The same goes for the spine, you should be able to feel it when you run your fingers along the back, but it shouldn’t be overly obvious. If you stand over your cat, you should see the torso tuck in where the ribs finish. An exaggerated tuck is a sign of an underweight cat, overweight cats may have no tuck at all.
- Veterinarians usually routinely weigh cats during visits, it is a good idea to make a note of your cat’s weight when he is fit and well so that you can use this number to determine any weight gain or weight loss in the future. Make a file for your cat where all of his veterinary papers are stored and keep a note of his healthy weight in there.
Either way, you should see a veterinarian to determine if there is a medical reason your cat is underweight or overweight.
- Inadequate amount of food – This may be due to underfeeding, inter-cat bullying or an inadequate diet.
- Hyperthyroidism – This endocrine disease is usually due to a benign tumour of the thyroid gland.
- Diabetes mellitus – As glucose is unable to enter the cells the body will become starved of energy, so it begins to break down fat stores as an alternate fuel source.
- Kidney disorders such as acute or chronic kidney disease and glomerulonephritis
- Addison’s disease – An endocrine disorder of the adrenal glands which results in a deficiency of corticosteroids being produced.
- Cancer – Many types of cancer can lead to weight loss and wasting in cats.
- Dental problems, which can make eating painful.
- Intestinal parasites such as roundworm, cryptosporidium, giardia – Weight loss can occur if the parasite is competing with the cat for nutrients (in the case of roundworms), or by causing vomiting and diarrhea in cats.
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency – A disease caused by a failure of the pancreas to secrete adequate levels of pancreatic enzymes which result in an inability to properly digest food.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus – Viral infection, similar to HIV in humans.
- Feline leukemia virus – FeLV is a viral infection caused by reovirus, which is in the same family as the feline immunodeficiency virus. It is an oncovirus, meaning it can cause cancer. It also suppresses the immune system.
- Heartworm disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Liver disease
- Pancreatitis – An inflammation of the pancreas due to pancreatic enzymes which begin to break down and digest the organ.
- Pyometra – Infection of the uterus.
- Stress which can lead to a loss of appetite.
There are several factors in determining how much your cat should eat. A kitten will eat more frequently but smaller meals. A pregnant or lactating cat will need to eat more than an adult cat. A young and active cat will consume more than a sedentary cat. Therefore there are no hard and fast rules.
I generally let my cats gauge how much food to feed them. They are fed half a can of cat food twice a day, with biscuits to free feed on.