How much should your cat weigh?


Just an extra kilo or two can make a major difference in your cat’s health, general wellbeing and overall quality of life. All cats have an ideal weight for their size and breed, and your veterinarian can tell you what this is.

Excess weight can lead to less play time and depression. It can even significantly shorten your cat’s life expectancy. Overweight cats can have a greatly increased risk of developing serious health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, urinary stones, heart disease, breathing difficulty and even bladder cancer.

If your cat is overweight, you’re not alone. Almost half of pets in South Africa are overweight. It can be hard to tell if your pet is gaining weight because it happens gradually over time. The important thing is that you take steps to help your cat lose the excess kilo's and achieve a healthy weight.


What causes weight gain in cats?


Cat weight gain is the result of an increase in body fat. This is usually caused by eating too much, especially when combined with lack of exercise. But there can be other contributing factors too.



Older cats are less active, have less energy, and require fewer calories. They are prone to weight gain.


Some cat breeds are more likely to gain weight. This is most typical in mixed breed cats.


Female cats are more likely to become overweight.

Medical Problems

Very occasionally weight gain is associated with a medical disorder that may require specific treatment.


Clinical studies have shown that the basic metabolism of neutered cats is lower. Neutered cats actually require fewer calories. Spayed or neutered cats are twice as likely to become obese due to a more sedentary lifestyle. (There are many important health reasons to have your pet spayed or neutered — just remember to monitor your cat's weight.)



Cats with unlimited access to food understandably eat more than they need.


Many commercial foods are loaded with salt and fat. This improves taste, which means your cat will want to gorge.

Feeding habits

Feeding table scraps and "people food" can lead to obesity.

Lack of exercise

Too much food and too little exercise produces a typical result: obesity.


Remember, even if your cat does not show signs of being overweight, it is important to have regular weight checks at the veterinarian's office to make sure her ideal weight is maintained.




Signs that your cat is overweight




Between check-ups, you can perform a simple test to see if your cat is maintaining a healthy weight. Place your hands on your cat’s side — are her ribs hard to feel or even impossible to feel? If so, she is likely overweight. You may also notice some of these additional signs:

  • Loss of an obvious waist
  • Saggy belly
  • Collar needs loosening
  • Difficulty in jumping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Difficulty grooming


Taking steps for cat weight loss


As well as feeding your cat the correct nutrition, promoting regular exercise will help with the process of healthy weight loss. Here are a few exercise and workout tips you and your cat can do together:



Playing with toys

There are loads of commercially available toys that encourage active play.
Even better, get the kids together to make a “cat toy”. Ping pong balls or even a scrunched piece of paper work a treat.



This isn’t for everyone and it may require some practice but cat harnesses are available at most vet shops so that you can walk your cat safely. However even if that's a bit tough make your cat follow, jump, chase at home whenever you can.

Ask your vet about your cat’s food


Your cat’s diet is perhaps the single-most important factor in helping her reach and maintain an ideal weight. Ask your vet about Hill’s Metabolic foods which have helped thousands of dogs in South Africa and around the world to lose weight and maintain a healthy & active life. Visit for more information on pet obesity and find a vet offering the Hill's Pet Slimmer Programme near you.

*Data on file. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

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Put your overweight cat on the road to recovery.


If your cat is already having trouble with weight problems, there are plenty of things you can do to improve her condition.


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