Moe a famous fat cat – photo by danperry.com
Generally, a healthy cat weight is between 9 and 12 pounds for a male cat and between 7 and 10 pounds for a female cat (book No 5– See: Methods and References (new window) for the philosophy behind presenting medical information and references used). Another source says that intact males (unneutered) should weigh between 8 and 15 pounds normally and neutered males and females between 5.5 and 10 pounds (book 1).
Some cats are naturally large. A large cat breed that comes to mind is the Maine Coon the largest non-wildcat hybrid probably. Some breeds are naturally smaller such as the rare Singapura, so cats should not be forced into unnatural weights. The weight of mixed breed cats varies substantially too. There are some nice stories on this site about larger than average cats and these are often large cats in terms of bone structure not because they are a little tubby (see them here). And individual cats vary in what is a natural weight for them. You can see visitors’ input on their cats’ size on this page and scroll down.
But the vast majority of cats are in the middle bracket of cat weights and for these cats a healthy cat weight is as mentioned above.
I think it fair to say that assessing the weight of a cat is mainly a case of common sense. We can tell when our cat is overweight or underweight. But sometimes we can become a little blind to what is the ideal because, for example, we have lived with an overweight cat for a long time. We tend to normalise the extreme over time. A simply test is to see if you can feel your cat’s ribs easily. If not your cat is almost certainly overweight (book 7).
Some cats are naturally large.
It is fairly common knowledge that if there is a weight problem with cats that are not ill it is that they are overweight. This is frowned upon by vets as it can cause cat health problems such as heart and kidney disease (book 4)
Weighing our cat routinely or assessing weight routinely is a good source of information about a cat’s health. Vets do it as we know. How best to weigh a cat to maintain a healthy cat weight? Ideally the scales should be baby scales (a paediatric scale). Scales that weight people won’t be accurate enough, I think, even if you carry your cat on to the scales with you and then subtract your weight. However, some scales for human use might be accurate enough for this provided they are calibrated and set to zero properly (the author of book 7 recommends it). An example of paediatric scales in the USA are: Tanita BD-585 Digital Baby Scale (if you have the money!).
Most kittens weigh between 85 grams and 120 grams at birth. They increase weight at about 100 grams per week (book 6).
Overweight cats tend to be neutered, indoor cats that are over 3 years old. A cat is considered obese when body weight exceeds the normal weight by 15% or more (book 6).
Cat Food is the first consideration when treating weight issues. Cats usually regulate their weight well. Cutting out titbits and substituting cat’s milk for water is a good start in reducing food intake. A weight loss diet should be carried out carefully and ideally in conjunction with a good vet (in the USA this means a vet that does not declaw).
Weight loss of 15% can be achieved in 18 weeks by providing a diet that is 60% in calories of the standard diet to maintain proper weight (book 7).
Cats can be finicky in eating. Cats have cycles of body weight. A down cycle of body weight will result in reduced appetite. It may last a month (book 2) or several months (book 4). A consistently reduced appetite, though, indicates a cat health problem. A cat’s appetite increases during cold weather and decrease in warm weather (book 4).
For an underweight old cat it is said that a possible idea is to mix in to the diet one teaspoon of lard. This adds calories.
Header photo: published under creative commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic.
Did you find this article useful and interesting? Can it be improved? Please tell me in a comment. I am always keen to improve the site for animal welfare and reader enjoyment.