If your cat comes running at every rustle of the treat bag or begs like a dog for slivers of salmon while you're eating dinner, you may be wondering if he's eating too much or is overweight. Other cats eschew most foods, picking at every cat food you buy to entice his finicky taste buds. Does his pickiness mean he may be underweight? Is there an ideal weight for a cat so that he's neither too plump nor too bony?
Average cat weight
Just as no two cats have exactly the same markings or personality, there's no magic number for average weight. Weight can vary greatly by breed, bone structure, gender, and whether the cat has been spayed or neutered.
The cat weight chart of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention shows that domestic mixed-breed cats should weigh eight to 10 pounds, while specific breeds can weigh a bit more or less because of their size. Siamese should weigh five to 10 pounds, while the Persian's ideal weight is 7 to 12 pounds. The robust Maine coon cat can weigh anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds.
A cat weight chart from PetPrescription lists additional breeds. It lists the typical weight of both domestic short hair and long hair cats at 10 pounds. The naturally thin Abyssinian average weight is about six-and-a-half pounds, while the Norwegian forest cat is nearly 18 pounds.
Is your cat overweight or underweight?
Beyond cat obesity charts, owners can eyeball their feline to get a sense of where her weight falls along the spectrum of average cat weights. If you can see your cat's ribs, your pet is underweight. But just because her ribs shouldn't be prominent doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to feel them under her fur. If you can't count the ribs by feel, your pet may be overweight.
Another way to check is to peer down on your cat while you're both standing. If your cat is an ideal weight, you should see an hourglass figure or a slight indentation at the waist. Your pet is overweight if you look down and her body is an oval shape.
Another way to ascertain if your cat is fat is to check out her abdomen. The stomach area should tilt slightly upward when viewed from the side. If you see a beer belly swaying toward the floor, that's a sign of excess weight.
Why weight is important
Odds are that your pet may weigh too much since about 60 percent of cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Just as health issues crop up when humans pack on extra pounds, cats can be susceptible to weight-related illnesses such as osteoarthritis, type-2 diabetes, kidney and heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and more. With these diseases come higher vet bills and a diminished quality of life for your pet.
At the same time, some pets are underweight. The most important thing is to take your cat to the vet to determine if there is an underlying health problem causing him to be too skinny. If your cat is healthy but just too small, spend some time finding foods that might entice him by buying just one small can of various flavors until you hit on one he might gobble down.
Putting your pet on a diet
If you determine your pet is overweight, work with your vet to determine exactly how much food your pet needs to eat to lose excess pounds slowly. Roughly, cats need 180 to 200 calories a day to maintain their weight.
It's time to put away the treat bag and carefully measure how much dry food you leave in the bowl each day if your cat is too heavy. Many pet food companies make lower-calorie versions of their cat food, and this can help in lowering weight or maintaining a healthy weight.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.