So you’re thinking your cat is overweight.  But how (unless he is obviously quite fat) to be sure?  By taking a BCS, or Body Condition Score.  A BCS is a number assigned to a cat’s body type ranging from 1-9, with 1 being very underweight and 9 being very overweight.  The ideal weight is around 5, which is the healthiest cat weight.

If your cat is at the ideal weight (5) – your cat should have a well-proportioned body; you can see the waist behind the ribs; you’ll be able to feel the ribs but they have a slight covering of fat.  There should be a little paunch of abdominal fat.  Now, if your cat is overweight, meaning a BCS of 6-9, you can feel his ribs but they have excess fat covering.  The waist and tummy fat pad can be noticed, but it’s not obvious.  There’s no abdominal tuck.  In an even more obese cat, the ribs cannot be felt and have excess fat covering.  You can’t see the waist and the stomach is round with prominent tummy fat.  The back has extra fat also.  At the most extreme, kitty’s ribs and lumbar area are covered under a heavy fat covering.   There’s also heavy fat deposits on the face and limbs   The abdomen’s distended and covered in fat and you can’t see the waist – kitty’s too fat to have one.


Here’s how to examine your cat thoroughly:

  1. Feel the ribs – see how easy it is to feel your cat’s ribs. If your cat is at the proper weight it will feel like feeling pencils in a pocket.
  2. Check kitty’s waist – an overweight cat does not have an hourglass shape – you’ll feel it when you run your hands along your cat’s ribs – they should tuck in when your hands reach the end of the ribs and come to the waist.
  3. Look at the side view – when you look at your cat from the side, kitty’s stomach should tuck up back towards the hind legs.



It’s estimated that 50% of cats in America are overweight.  An overweight cat is more susceptible to diabetes, many types of cancer, heart disease,  hypertension, osteoarthritis, bladder stones, etc.

It’s a slow and gradual process to get your cat back to a healthy weight.  Losing weight too quickly is unhealthy and can be dangerous.

The following are some ways to help kitty lose weight:

  1. Measure kitty’s food so you know exactly how much kitty is eating. Calculate how much your cat is eating now and make a note of it.  Keep a record of the amounts as you gradually reduce the amount of food you feed kitty (no more than 10% – 20% per month.)
  2. Feed your cat several small meals throughout the day. Your kitty will feel less deprived that way even though you’re gradually decreasing the amount of food he’s eating.
  3. Cats need a more natural diet – high moisture, high protein, and low carbohydrate. Most of the commercial kibble is not healthy.  Try to transition your cat to wet or freeze-dried foods.  There are some cats that seem to do better on a low calorie, high fiber weight loss diet.  Your veterinarian can help determine what’s best for your kitty.  Also, ask your vet about supplementing your cat’s food with L-carnitine, an amino acid that can help kitty lose weight faster while gaining lean muscle mass.
  4. More exercise – get some great interactive cat toys and spend time playing with the kitty a few times a day.

NOTE:  You only want your cat to lose 3% – 4% of total weight per month, equivalent to one pound a month for a 20 pound cat.  Keep a record of kitty’s weight (weigh every week or 10 days) and then sustain that weight loss by continuing the healthy food regimen.

In closing, helping your cat lose the weight it needs to lose can add years of a healthy life, and helping in the weight loss journey is well worth the effort!