How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Overweight?

By Anaëlle Laurent. Updated: August 30, 2020
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Overweight?

See files for Cats

Overweight cats are prone to serious health issues such as diabetes, liver diseases, arthritis and more. This is why it's so important to make sure our cat stays within a healthy weight.

In this AnimalWised article we're going to tell you how to tell if your cat is overweight, the health risks that come with an overweight cat and how to help your cat lose weight.

You may also be interested in: How to Tell if a Turtle Is Male or Female

How to tell if your cat is overweight

  1. Can you feel your cat's ribs when touching them?
  2. Can you see your cat's silhouette from a top view?

It's fairly easy to tell if your cat is overweight. If you've answered yes to these two questions, your cat is at a healthy weight. You're able to feel their spine and ribs because they have low body fat. You can also see a healthy cat silhouette from a top view.

However, if you've answered no, meaning that you you cannot feel their ribs easily and their silhouette is round, then your cat is overweight. If their silhouette is very round and it's not possible to feel their ribs due to the excess fat on their body, then your cat is probably obese.

It's important to mention that it's healthy for your cat to have some body fat. The issue is when it becomes excessive and begins to take a toll on their health. Therefore, don't be alarmed if your cat has a flappy belly. The key to knowing if their body fat is excessive is by determining how difficult it is to find their spine or rib bones by touching them.

This will be fairly easy to find in cats with a healthy amount of body fat. However, in overweight cats, it will be a little more difficult to find. They will also have a round silhouette from a top view. If you're still not sure, ask you local veterinarian in their next check-up.

Characteristics of overweight cats

  • Excess fat on ribs and spine
  • Round silhouette from top view
  • Has difficulty grooming oneself
  • Has low energy levels
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weigh 10%-20% above their ideal body weight
  • Obese cats weigh more than 20% of their ideal body weight

Watch this Youtube video from the veterinarian Dr.Uri where he speaks more about how to tell if your cat is overweight.

Health risks of obesity in cats

Obesity in cats will have a toll on our cats, not only physically but also psychologically. It will make it difficult for them to move around, they will easily overheat, they will have low energy and also have a hard time grooming themselves. Unfortunately, this is the least of worries when it comes to obesity in cats.

Once our cat os overweight, or even obese, they will be prone to more serious health issues. This will reduce their quality of life and even their life expectancy, but the worst part is that some of these can be fatal. These health issues include:

  • Diabetes
  • Liver diseases
  • Arthritis
  • Urinary problems
  • Pancreatitis
  • GI diseases
  • Skin problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Our cats will suffer a great deal if they become overweight, and even more so if they become obese. Thankfully, there are a number of things we can do to help them lose weight and maintain an ideal body weight. But, first, let's take a look at the causes of obesity in cats in order to avoid our cats from getting in the future.

Causes of obesity in cats

Some cats are more prone to obesity than others. Nevertheless, as their caregivers, we must be careful and make sure they maintain a healthy body weight so we can help them avoid certain health issues, such as the ones we have previously mentioned.

The most common cause of obesity in cats is the combination of insufficient exercise and overfeeding them or an inadequate diet. This often happens without the caregivers noticing. This is especially difficult to realise once our cat begins to age and their metabolism and energy levels decrease.

Nevertheless, we must be attentive to their diet, exercise and energy levels. It's important to keep in mind that a young cat and an older cat will need different diets. To know if your cat is an elder cat, you can read our article on 5 signs of old age in cats.

This is also why it's so important to keep up with the regular veterinarian check-ups. This way, they will be able to tell you if your cat is gaining weight and will give you tips in order to avoid your cat from becoming overweight and prone to a number of other health issues.

How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Overweight? - Causes of obesity in cats

How to help your cat lose weight

Thankfully, there are a number of things we can do as caregivers to make sure our cats maintain a healthy body weight. This will help them live a longer, happier and healthier life. These measures include:


One of the most important aspects when it comes to helping our cat lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight is diet. High quality wet food is a great base for a cat's diet. We should always reduce the amount of commercial treats we give our cat, or simply not give it to them at all and opt for healthier options.

When it comes to portions, this will depend on their age, weight and breed. We encourage to learn more in our article on how much to feed a cat. You can also ask your veterinarian as they will be able to examine your cat and let you know the best portions for you cat and, especially, if they need to lose some weight.


The next important aspect is exercise. You cat, even if they're an older cat, will need plenty of exercise for physical and mental stimulation. Try to play with them with different toys when they're feeling more energetic.

You can even take them out on walks, depending on their breed and personality. We also have the perfect article for this aspect, read more in our article about physical exercise for obese cats.


Anxiety in cats can also play a roll on why your cat is over-eating and not playing anymore. You can help their anxiety by spending more time with them, cuddling with them, playing with them or even speaking softly to them so they know they are not alone.


Lastly, it's important to take our cat to the veterinarian for regular check-ups. You can also ask your veterinarian for help in your cat's weight loss journey. They can further guide you as they will know more about your cat's weight, breed and medical history.

If you want to read similar articles to How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Overweight?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

Write a comment

Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Overweight?
1 of 2
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Overweight?

Back to top