Is my cat fat or just big? Learn how to monitor and manage your kitty’s weight
We are witnesses to the absurd internet trend of glorifying overweight cats as chonky or cuddly. It seems cute until you realise obesity can drastically shorten your kitty’s lifespan. If you’ve got a plump feline, you should ask yourself—Is my cat too fat, and do these extra pounds negatively affect their well-being?
Feline obesity has turned into a real epidemic in the UK, with almost 44% of the cats in the country clinically overweight. The problem usually isn’t parental neglect but the inability to recognise and treat obesity in time. You can easily spot a wobbly belly in a lithe Siamese, but if you're raising a fluffy Persian, the signs of obesity are trickier to see.
We will present some handy tips to:
Our guide also presents Untamed’s delectable weight management cat food to help kitties keep those kilos in check effortlessly!
How to tell if your cat is too fat
Age is another crucial factor that influences a kitty’s ideal weight. It’s natural for cats to experience a decline in body weight by their seventh or eighth year. Don’t panic if their body mass drops dramatically once they’re 11–12 years old. Cats older than 15 usually have a lean tissue mass and very little body fat.
The most effective method to evaluate your cat's condition is a basic visual and physical inspection, uniform for all cats.
Check these visual markers to make a quick assessment of your kitty:
- Top view—Healthy adult cats have a slight tuck around their waistline when you’re looking at them from above, while anorexic cats have a highly pronounced waist. Obese cats won’t have the tuck, and their bodies will appear either elliptical or oblong, often with no visible neckline
- Side view—From the side, your cat’s chest area should be larger than their tummy, forming a slope-like outline. Obese felines don’t have the slope and may even have a hanging potbelly. Some cats also have sagging skin around their neck
- Back view—The body outline of overweight cats looks rounded from behind due to heavy fat deposits on the hips, belly, and limbs
A visual appraisal is more definitive when a cat is obese, i.e. weighs over 20% of their optimum weight. If your kitty is too fluffy to have a perceivable body outline, a physical appraisal is necessary.
I’m stunning from all angles, hooman. If you’re going to pet me, at least do it right!
Source: Christin Hume
A physical appraisal is an excellent way to determine if your kitty has the desired muscle tone and body fat levels. Healthy cats should have predominantly muscular bodies and a low body-fat percentage (BF%), usually between 10–30%. Overweight felines have weaker muscles and a high BF%.
To make a physical assessment, run your hands through your kitty’s fur, especially around their ribcage. You should be able to feel the bones under a thin layer of fat and lean muscles—it would be like touching the back of your hand.
The overlying fat padding is heavier in overweight cats, much like the cushiony surface of your palm. In such cases, you will have to apply some pressure with your fingers to make out the bones. If you don’t feel anything even after pressing firmly, it’s likely your kitty is obese.
Why are some cats so fat? Is it genetics or something else?
Certain domestic breeds, like British Shorthairs and Scottish Folds, are often mistaken as obese because of their cobby bodies. They have stocky features with stout, sturdy limbs, giving them a rounded appearance. These breeds can appear fat during a visual appraisal due to their naturally pronounced pouch, a loose pocket of fat hanging from their belly.
The primordial pouch is a genetic trait acquired from wildcats who depended on hunting prey and scavenging raw meat from carcasses. Its function was to:
- Store fat for emergencies when they had to go for long periods without food
- Act as a protective cushion when attacked by other predators
Many purebreds have retained a prominent primordial pouch. These kitties are not fat as long as they have a muscular build and low body fat, which can be easily determined with a physical appraisal.
Whoever says homely cats are fat is a big fat liar (and probably mentally obese)! Let’s follow the woke brigade and stick to plus-size, shall we?
Source: Josh Couch
Why do cats get fat?
Cats typically gain weight because of a low-protein or high-fat diet. Many other factors also contribute to weight gain, including:
- Sterilisation status—Spayed and neutered cats often have a slower metabolism than intact cats, which leads to weight gain
- Sedentary lifestyle—Laidback kitties, like Ragdolls, are prone to obesity as they tend to be lazy and burn fewer calories than active breeds, such as Bengals and Abyssinians
- Overfeeding—Indoor cats usually need 40–45 calories daily per kilo of their body weight. If they get excess calories through their regular meals and snacks, they are bound to get chubby
- Medical conditions—The following medical conditions can cause feline obesity:
Nutritionists refer to the feline obesity epidemic as The Garfield Syndrome (remember the idolised paunchy and cynical American kitty with an insatiable appetite for lasagna?). Many cat parents remain in denial about their kitty’s weight issues because they find overeating and chubbiness adorable. In reality, failing to control weight can usher an avalanche of feline diseases, including:
- Diabetes mellitus
- FLUTDs like bladder stones and cystitis
- Kidney ailments
- Heart diseases
These painful conditions not only threaten your kitty’s longevity but also affect their quality of life as they age.
From a fat, adored kitten to a meatball with almost zero mobility—my fairytale turned into a nightmare real quick. I wish my human knew better.
I think my cat is too fat—how can I help them?
If your cat is fat, help them get thinner with a strict weight loss plan. Three pillars of an effective feline weight loss plan are:
What type of food works for overweight cats?
All cats need high-protein, low-fat food to maintain muscle tone and optimal weight. Carnivorous animals like cats don’t need carbs in their diet and should get 90% of their daily calories from proteins and fat. Many commercial products are high-carb and low-protein, making them unsuitable for your overweight kitty.
Carbohydrates like sugar, grains, and rice or potato starch are cheap fillers added to bulk up the volume of products with low meat content. Feeding high-carb food creates a calorie surplus and leads to further weight gain. The table below summarises the recommended levels of protein, fat, and carbs in cat food:
Not more than 3%
Overweight cats need a regular diet of high-protein wet food. Avoid dry or semi-moist food as they are heavily processed and usually loaded with 30–40% carbs. A regular diet of biscuits can also cause protein deficiency, often leading to muscle loss, dental diseases, frequent hairballs, and excessive shedding.
When choosing cat food for a dieting kitty, pay attention to the protein source. It should be whole meat, as the bioavailability index is much higher than in animal derivatives and vegetable or dairy proteins. The meat should also be low-fat.
Refer to the following table to scan through the approximate fat content in popular meat used in cat food:
Fat (per 100 grams)
Beef or bacon
“My cat is very fat,” my human keeps mumbling with that rotten mousy face. I’ll show them how fine and flexible I am as soon as I break free from this devilish contraption.
Source: Tomas Tuma
How to plan my cat’s diet?
A calorie-deficit diet can be created by reducing your kitty’s portions. Give your overweight kitty one-half or three-fourths of their standard serving two times a day. Their body will gradually burn off the stored body fat to make up for the current calorie deficit. You must be patient as the process takes months. Crash diets don’t work for kitties because underfeeding can cause liver failure and death.
A dieting kitty will naturally crave snacks. You can opt for low-calorie treats like:
- Freeze-dried raw chicken (as long as it’s contaminant free)
- Light homemade meat soups and bone broths
- Bite-sized pieces of kitty-safe fruits (apples, bananas, strawberries, etc.)
- Non-fat yoghurt
- Air-popped and unseasoned popcorn
- Boiled and mashed carrots or pumpkins (one to two teaspoons)
Avoid giving them high-calorie snacks like milk, eggs, bread, pasta, cheese, and sweetcorn. Also, be wary of common human products that are toxic for felines. They include garlic, grapes, onions, chocolate, raw yeast, and wild mushrooms.
How to make my kitty more active?
Overweight cats should exercise for 15–45 minutes per day. You can prompt them with:
- Pursuing games (lasers, electronic mice, or balls that light up in motion)
- Olfactory stimulants like catnip-scented toys
- Dangly pole toys (they’re great for jumping, spinning, and flipping)
- Cat towers
- Daily walks with your cat (keep them away from toxic plants if you’re strolling in a park)
If your overweight kitty cannot exercise due to orthopaedic problems, visit a veterinary physiologist. More advanced options include hydrotherapy, a kitty treadmill, and a fat loss massage.
We don’t worship or shame fat cats—we fix them with the right diet. Switch to Untamed food made with waistline-friendly lean meat and organs!
Image (c) Untamed
Your search for the ultimate weight management food ends with Untamed!
Untamed offers high-protein and low-fat wet food ideal for effortless weight management regardless of your cat's age or breed. Our grain-free and sugar-free meals are made with human-grade meat and organs, which are excellent for felines who tend to pile on extra pounds.
- The protein content—Untamed products contain 60–63% whole meat with zero animal derivatives and vegetable proteins. We offer twice the amount of protein (meaning more taurine and arginine) than most manufacturers
- Cooking methods—We steam our food to preserve the bioavailability of nutrients. Dieting cats often suffer from vitamin or mineral deficiencies, but our complete food ensures your kitty gets all essential micronutrients in the recommended amounts
- Ingredients—We use hypoallergenic natural ingredients for our dishes and avoid potentially harmful additives like preservatives, taste enhancers, and artificial food colouring
- Taste—Our delicious meals impress fussy eaters because we focus on the taste as much as the health benefits
You can tailor a meal plan according to your kitty’s taste preferences, life stage, food sensitivities, and allergies. Take our TRY NOW quiz to check out which Untamed delicacies would brighten up your kitty’s day! We will send you your taster pack at a steal price!
Kitties on Untamed never miss a chance to demonstrate the flexibility and strength that comes with a nutritious whole meat diet!
Image (c) Untamed
If the cat is fat, let Untamed change that
Untamed is available in convenient 75g cans, so you can control how much and how often your kitty eats.
An average-sized cat needs about 150–250 grams of wet food daily. If you are creating a calorie-deficit diet, two cans of Untamed should be enough for your kitty’s daily needs, although you should consult your vet for precise amounts.
With a strict feeding schedule, they will start dropping pounds in a few weeks. Once they reach a healthy weight, you can adjust their Untamed portions according to their body size and activity levels. Remember to feed snacks in moderation because they shouldn't exceed 10% of your cat's daily food intake.
Untamed can be your kitty’s life-long companion
Our products work for cats of all breeds and ages. Regular Untamed meals build up your kitty’s immune system and improve their cardiovascular and renal health in the long run. Our nutritionally balanced food can also prevent common age-related illnesses like diabetes, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and lower urinary tract infections.
Here’s what our happy clients say about the incredible Untamed effect:
The Untamed effect
Two to four months
Six months and beyond
Order Untamed in a few clicks
Are you ready to help your kitty flaunt an elegant model frame? Follow these steps to get our healthy cat food trial pack:
- Complete our TRY NOW quiz
- Select products
- Place the order
The order will be on your doorstep within a day. If our meals pass the taste test, we can deliver your cat's favourite dishes every month. Our shipping is free on all orders. Modify, cancel, or postpone an order anytime as per your convenience!
Our cat food subscription plan will suit you, your kitty, and the environment. Untamed adheres to the highest standards of ethical cat food production. We keep our packaging 100% recyclable. Our meat is always sourced from cruelty-free and sustainable suppliers.
Lean, elegant, and dignified from kittenhood to senior years—Untamed kitties always feel on top of the world!
Image (c) Untamed
Is my cat fat or pregnant?
It’s common to confuse a pregnant cat for a fat feline because of their protruding belly. An expecting kitty will display the following tell-tale signs of pregnancy:
- Pinking up—Cats have a gestation period of about eight weeks. Most queens experience pinking and engorging of their nipples by their third week, which is a definitive sign of pregnancy
- Increased appetite—Queens have higher caloric needs as the pregnancy progresses, which impacts their eating habits. Expecting kitties consume about 1.5 times more food than their usual quantity towards the end of the gestation period
- Frequent vomiting—Like humans, cats also get morning sickness during pregnancy due to hormonal shifts. They may throw up digested or undigested food quite often, usually accompanied by periods of low appetite
- Long sleeping time—Pregnant cats feel increasingly lethargic and start to sleep more throughout the day
- Localised weight gain—Pregnant cats gain 1–2 kilos around their bellies, depending on the size of their litter. The appearance of their neck, limbs, and chest remain unchanged, unlike fat cats who get chubby evenly
How to tell if your kitten is overweight?
You can follow the same visual and physical appraisal techniques to determine if a kitten is overweight, as you would do for adult cats.
Kittens are rarely overweight during the first few months of their life due to the rapid growth rate. They eat more frequently, albeit in small portions, during this period, and their body is constantly processing food for mental and physical development.
You should worry about weight control once your kitty hits their ideal weight. As they acquire their adult features, they’ll need fewer calories for sustenance. Unfortunately, many adolescent kittens start piling on kilos due to the calorie surplus created by a high-fat, high-carb diet.
Follow these tips to manage weight in younglings:
- Use a fixed feeding schedule once your kitten starts eating solids
- Avoid giving them adult food loaded with carbs and fillers, which can trigger gastrointestinal upsets
- Don’t give dry food to your kitten as it usually overflows with carbs. It can also cause kibble addiction and make them reject healthy wet food later on
- Limit snacks to under 10% of their daily meals
- Promote regular exercise by increasing their engagement levels with interactive toys
Going from fat to fit will be an arduous journey for your kitty. Support and cheer them every step of the way—it’ll be the sweetest triumph ever!
Why is my senior cat getting so fat all of a sudden?
Senior cats lose their agility and metabolic capacity as they age, which can affect their weight. In such cases, reduce food portions according to your feline’s current needs.
Remember that weight management is a slippery slope for seniors, as it’s also common for them to lose weight once they are ten years or older. They eat less food due to increased stomach sensitivity and falling teeth and may even suffer from frequent episodes of gagging, diarrhoea, or vomiting of undigested food.
Most seniors manage well on a high-protein, low-fat diet. If you are struggling to keep their health and weight in check, take them to a vet for a thorough medical check-up.