Obesity in Cats

3 min read

Excessive Weight in Cats

Obesity is a nutritional disease which is defined by an excess of body fat. Cats that are over nourished, lack the ability to exercise, or that have a tendency to retain weight are at risk for becoming obese. Obesity can result in serious adverse health effects, such as reducing the lifespan of an affected cat, even if the cat is only moderately obese. Multiple areas of the body are affected by excess body fat, including the bones and joints, the digestive organs, and the organs responsible for breathing capacity.

Obesity usually occurs in middle-aged cats, and generally in those that are between the ages of 5 and 10. Neutered and indoor cats are at the highest risk of becoming obese, due to lack of physical activity, or changes in metabolism.

If you would like to read how obesity affects dogs, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.


  • Weight gain
  • Excess body fat
  • The inability (or unwillingness) to exercise
  • An above-ideal score in a body condition assessment


There are several causes of obesity. The most common cause is an imbalance between the energy intake and its usage; that is, the cat is eating more than it can possibly expend. Obesity also becomes more common in old age because of the normal decreases in a cat's ability to exercise. Unhealthy eating habits, such as high-calorie foods, an alternating diet, and frequent treats can also bring on this condition.

Other common causes include:


Obesity is diagnosed primarily by measuring a cat's body weight, or by scoring its body condition, which involves assessing its body composition. Your veterinarian will do this by examining your cat, palpating its ribs, lumbar area, tail, and head. The results are then compared to the particular breed standard that your cat best matches.

If your cat is diagnosed with obesity, it will be because it has an excess of body weight measuring approximately 10 to 15 percent. In the nine-point scoring system, cats which have a body condition score greater than seven are considered to be obese.

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