As cat parents we want what's good for our furry children, whether that means the best toys, tastiest treats, or softest beds. One thing we may not always consider is your cat’s weight, which plays a big role in keeping them safe and healthy.
Most of the time people can see whether their cat is a slonk (i.e., thin or lanky) or a chonk (i.e., plump or fluffy), but it can be hard to know what a healthy weight is and how to help your cat maintain it.
The best and more accurate way to know if your cat is a healthy weight is to consult your veterinarian. They’ll be able to fully assess your cat's overall health. Before emptying your pockets on a visit, though, there are some indications that your cat may need an updated wellness plan.
What does the average cat weigh?
For domestic cats, their typical weight is 8-12 pounds. However, weight can vary when it comes to their gender and breed — anywhere from 5 to 25 pounds. Most vets use a variety of factors to determine your cats overall condition and weight, relative to its body.
In general, kitties who are the ideal weight for their body type will only have a minimal layer of fat. In other words, you can feel the ribs, but they are neither prominent nor hidden beneath a layer of fat.
To assess your cat’s body condition, you just need to pet her. Check the ribs, belly, waist, and back bone. These areas should be easy to feel but not protruding.
- Underweight cats will have prominent ribs and tail bones. They may lose interest in food, play, and grooming. You may also notice a change in their appearance, such as a dull coat or dry skin.
- Overweight cats will have a prominent belly that is visible from above and the side. They may not move around as much and sleep more. They may also struggle to groom, jump, and climb.
You may notice sagging skin below your cat’s belly. This is an anatomical feature known as the primordial pouch, and it’s not cause for concern.
However, if you suspect your cat is under or overweight, talking to your veterinarian is the best way to determine any potential health concerns.
Why is a Healthy Weight Important?
An estimated 61% of domestic cats are considered overweight. Keeping your cat’s weight within its ideal range will improve his health, behavior, and mood. But much like with humans, there isn’t some magical way to determine health based on weight.
Cats at a healthy weight are more likely to be active and have more energy. They’re also better equipped for day-to-day activities like grooming, jumping, and climbing.
This is why I’m such an advocate for feline enrichment. Not only is regular exercise and stimulation good for your cat’s mental health, it keeps them physical healthy as well, regardless of weight.
At the end of the day, you know your cat best, and any concerns you have are reason enough to revisit your cat’s health and wellness regimen.
How Can Your Cat Maintain a Healthy Weight?
Again, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian, as they might give you recommendations and advice on lifestyle changes to keep your furry roommate healthy. Your vet may ask:
- Is your cat sleeping too much?
- Is there enough nutrition in their meals?
- How often does your cat exercise?
One of the best ways that cat owners can help their pets maintain a healthy weight is through exercise. Exercise has similar to benefits for cats as it does to humans. Encouraging play not only is good for maintaining a healthy weight, but it builds muscle strength and can help keep diseases and other health issues, like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis at bay.
How much exercise does my cat need?
Cats need about 30 minutes of physical activity per day to maintain a healthy weight. This activity does not need to happen all at once, and consistency is key. Besides, getting your cat to a healthy weight cannot happen in one day. Spacing out your cat's physical activity allows them to relax and build up more energy to play.
Enrichment toys, the great outdoors, and indoor playgrounds are all activities that encourage exercise.
Find enriching toys
An easy, simple and affordable way to get my cat up and moving is a wiggly, fluffy, or feather wand toy. This one is my go-to because it encourages some bonding between me and my cat as I wiggle it around to make it dance back and forth in the air. It’s cute watching them attack it with those ferocious fluffy grippers.
Give them an indoor playground
Another favorite of mine (and Dezi's) is a play tunnel which is why I created the Hide and Sneak. A tunnel is a versatile playground toy; grab that wand we were talking about earlier, wiggle it just outside the tunnel opening and watch your cat pounce!
The DIY version is super simple! Grab a shipping box you have yet to throw away and cut a few holes in it. Paper bags work great, too!
Offer fresh air and sunshine
If your cat has different interests or is simply a couch potato who doesn’t pay rent, then another option might be supervised outdoor time. While yes, it's true there is no safer place for a cat to be than indoors, we cannot overlook the fact they are natural hunters who live outdoors.
Allowing them tap into those instincts is a great way for your cat to get some serotonin, which is the natural antidepressant. It generates feelings of well-being in both animals and humans. Sort of like the serotonin boost we get when we see a hands free loaf snoozing next to us.
To keep your cat safe outdoors, you might consider a catio or pet tent, cat-proof fencing, even leash training.
Sometimes just opening a window will invigorate your cat. The fresh air and sunshine gives them new smells and sounds to explore. In older cats, the warmth generated by the sun may offer temporary relief from arthritis, rheumatism, and other afflictions.
Happy Cat, Happy Life
If you’ve read this far, I know you care deeply about your cat.
What's important to keep in mind is no matter the weight of your cat keeping them healthy and wanting what's best for them can lead them to a long and happy life.
What’s more, you’ll spend less money on trips to the vet and be rewarded with a lot more quality time with your kitty.
After all, a healthy cat makes for a happy paw-rent!