Can a cat lose weight

Weight problems

Please note: This subpage will be revised soon. It is possible that individual parts of the content are no longer up to date!

Content last updated on: 08/22/2014

Whether a cat is under-, normal- or overweight cannot be stipulated in general figures. The size, stature and age of the animal must also be taken into account. A delicately built oriental female cat, for example, will look chubby with a weight of 5 kilos, a female Maine Coon cat will not. Rather, it is important to evaluate their stature. The best way to do this is to look at the cat from above or from the side:

Overview of the weight check in cats

Underweight: If the cat has no or only a very thin layer of fat on the chest and no fat on the stomach, it is underweight. One can clearly see and feel the waist, vertebrae, ribs and pelvic bones. The shoulder blades are clearly visible when looking at the cat's profile.

Normal weight: A normal weight cat has some belly fat, a thin layer of fat on the chest and ribs. The waist is clearly visible and not sunken. If you stroke her over the body, the vertebrae and chest should be palpable, but not clearly visible.

Overweight: An overweight cat has no identifiable waistline. It has a distinct layer of fat on the belly, which is why it shows a pendulous belly. Her rib cage and vertebrae cannot be seen and are also difficult to feel. Not only is she restricted in her movements, which has an impact on grooming and play instinct, complaints such as shortness of breath or a lack of stamina will usually also occur.

FBMI - the feline Body Mass Index

this is how the values ​​for the FBMI are measured correctly

As with humans, there is now a scientifically determined BMI for cats. This value - called "FBMI" (feliner Body Mass Index) - determines the relationship between the circumference of the chest and the length of the lower leg. It is supposed to provide information about whether the cat is under, normal or overweight.

In order to determine the underlying values ​​correctly and precisely, the chest circumference of the cat in the area of ​​the ninth rib (strongest point of the chest) and the length of the lower leg from the middle of the kneecap to the heel hump must be measured (see example image).

Based on the values ​​determined, the table below shows in which range the cat's weight lies (orange = underweight, green = normal weight, red = overweight). It is important that the cat stands when measuring and that the measuring tape is slightly loosened (but not to loosely) around the cat's chest.

The measured values ​​were measured in 60 short-haired cats, which is why they can only be transferred to long-haired cat breeds to a limited extent. When measuring the chest circumference of half-long or long-haired cats, about 3cm should be deducted in order not to get falsified results. The company Waltham determined the study results together with Royal Canin and the University of Liverpool in 2003.

UChest circumference in cm

Formula for calculating body fat in cats

The exact formula for calculating the cat's body fat percentage is:

Body fat percentage = (((chest girth ÷ 0.7062) - lower leg length) ÷ 0.9156) - lower leg length
Explanation: First, divide the chest circumference by 0.7062 and then subtract the lower leg length from this value. The value obtained is divided by 0.9156. Subtract the lower leg length from this result.

A body fat percentage of around 10-30% is normal.

What are the reasons for being overweight in cats?

The reasons for obesity in cats are many. The most common triggers are illness, poor diet and lack of exercise. Especially the feeding of dry food or inferior wet food can make cats fat in the long run. The amount of carbohydrates contained in the dry food cannot be used by the cat and so ends up as fattening food "on the hips". The fact that most cats have their dry food available all day helps to unbalance their natural feelings of satiety and hunger.

Sugar (including caramel and inulin!) Is used as a component in many less high-quality wet feeds. In addition to dental problems, this can also lead to obesity. Some cats (especially indoor cats are at risk) do not move enough to use up the energy they eat and become too fat.

Last but not least, a high number of calories in some types of food is also responsible for overweight in cats. If the cat eats just a little too much of high-calorie food every day, too much weight is inevitable in the long run. More about calories in cat food in the "Dry food has a high energy density !?" and "calculate dry matter, carbohydrates and energy density"

Weight problems after neutering

A castrate belly is made up of excess skin, not fatty tissue

After neutering, the cat has a reduced energy requirement. So you should eat fewer calories than before the castration in order not to become fat. Inferior food and insufficient exercise lead to obesity in all cats, including neutered cats. Castration alone does not cause obesity, even if this is often claimed.

The so-called neuter belly also ensures that many cat owners are of the opinion that their cat is too fat. This neutered belly - also known as a fat apron - is actually nothing more than a weak connective tissue, which is particularly noticeable on the stomach. The incision in the abdomen in female cats and a change in skin elasticity due to the hormonal change are said to be the trigger for this "wobbly belly". But since (slim) male cats are also affected, a hereditary connective tissue weakness is more likely.

To prevent the cat from becoming overweight after neutering, it should be fed high quality food and encouraged to exercise too much. Sufficient occupation with game fishing, balls and racing games are part of it. Since high-quality food contains fewer calories than low-quality food or dry food, the food rations of neutered cats often do not even have to be reduced.

When the cat is supposed to lose weight

If your own cat is overweight, health problems such as diabetes, heart or joint diseases can result. Indoor cats are most affected by obesity, as they are unable to act out their natural urge to move if they are kept inappropriately. If there is too much or inferior, sugary or unsuitable (e.g. leftover food from the table) food, the cat will become fat.

Instead of forcing the cat to lose weight with radical cures, diet food or even fasting cures, it is more advisable to change the diet to higher quality food and only insignificantly reduced portions and to motivate them to exercise more. However, for the benefit of the cat's physical health, switching to more exercise should only be made in small steps, but regularly. Many cat owners also underestimate the amount and calorie content of the treats fed in between. A reduction in the treat portions is advisable.

In addition, it should be switched to giving the cat snacks not only as a mild gift. Attempts should be made to get the cat to do something for its treat, for example with the help of fumble boards or clickers. Excessive full eating without sufficient or compensatory exercise is more than harmful to the health of the cat in the long run.

Important: However, the cat should not go hungry when losing weight, it should always be full. By feeding high-quality, balanced food, the cat will be satisfied even with smaller quantities, and the feeling of satiety will last longer. The ingredients of such feed are utilized to a greater extent and are therefore less effective. In order to be able to precisely control the development of body weight, it is advisable to create a weight log. A suitable template can be downloaded here.

What are the reasons for being underweight in cats?

Many factors also influence underweight cats. If the cat is sick, has not been neutered, is not getting the right food or is under constant stress, this can affect its figure. Uncastrated animals cannot gain weight properly due to the stress that comes with potency and rank fights. In heat, cats in heat neglect food intake and burn more energy through their behavior than is normally the case.

Less high-quality food can also contribute to the cat being underweight. If it is not supplied with all the nutrients it needs in sufficient quantities, its metabolism cannot build up "reserves". Parasite infestation can also be a reason for underweight in cats. If the cat is bullied by other cats in its home, its needs for rest and retreat will not be accepted, because it is constantly being "buried" by someone (children, visitors), it can also suffer from too little weight. Stress is a very serious cause of being underweight (and illness).

Weight problems in old age or with illness

Many old or sick cats no longer eat regularly or do not eat enough to meet their energy needs. Pain, sniffy noses, dental problems, or decreased appetite will cause the cat to lose weight in the long term. It is important to regularly monitor and check the cat's weight and health, especially during such times. The cat should not starve for more than 24 hours and not lose weight rapidly.

In severe cases, forced feeding or feeding with special food pastes, which are high in calories and particularly nourishing (sources of supply in the link list), helps. Offering particularly odorous foods such as tuna, parmesan, cheese or special treats can also get the cat's appetite "on the go". Warming up the feed can also make the meal tastier.

If the cat loses more than a tenth of its weight in a short period of time, this is a clear signal to introduce it to the vet and have a detailed physical examination carried out! Sick and old cats in particular need physical reserves in order to survive illnesses and "bad times" with sufficient strength.

When the cat is supposed to gain weight

First of all, the cat should be examined for parasites and diseases. It is not uncommon for an externally unnoticeable illness to be the reason for being underweight. Spaying and neutering also makes sense, because the cat is automatically exposed to less stress. Your sexual behavior, ranking disputes and bullying can thus be reduced or avoided entirely.

In order for the cat to gain weight, it should be switched to high-quality food and fixed feeding times. With high-quality and balanced food, the cat receives all the necessary nutrients, minerals and (animal!) Proteins in sufficient quantities to become and stay healthy. Fixed feeding times ensure that the cat regains its natural feeling of hunger.

Feeding dry food as the main meal should be avoided, instead it can be offered as a snack between meals. To make the feed tastier, you can warm it up, sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over it or offer brewer's yeast before eating. Brewer's yeast is said to have an appetizing effect, but is not suitable for feeding to cats with kidney disease. Noble yeast should be used here. Brewer's yeast can be obtained in tablet form in every drugstore.

Foods that help cats gain weight include minced lamb, skinned poultry, cottage cheese and unseasoned goose fat. It is better to refrain from feeding vegetable oils and fats: they are less suitable because their ratio of fatty acids is unbalanced for the cat. It is also suitable to feed special high-calorie supplementary feed such as NutriCal, CaloPet or Reconvales (sources of supply can be found in the link list).

As with losing weight, cats should gain weight slowly so as not to damage their health. In order to be able to precisely control the development of body weight, it is advisable to create a weight log. A suitable template can be downloaded here.

Share this content:

from our blog:

follows ...