My Cat is As Fat As my Dog: What Should I Do?

icon May 19, 2023

Obesity is not just a concern for humans, it is a growing problem among our feline companions as well. In North America, almost 60% of domestic cats are overweight. And my cat is as fat as my dog. While some may dismiss this issue as merely a cosmetic concern, obesity in cats can lead to a range of serious health problems that can significantly impact their overall quality of life. Let's take a closer look at some of the risks associated with obesity in cats.

Fat Cat Facts: What You Need to Know About Overweight Cats - Mobile Vet  M.D. | Mobile Vet M.D.

Obesity in Cats Risks

Metabolic abnormalities

Increased insulin
Glucose intolerance
Hepatic lipid deposition disorder


Diabetes mellitus
Orthopedic disorders
Skin diseases
Oral Diseases

Cardiopulmonary diseases


Feline asthma

Lower Urinary Tract Diseases in Cats

Lower Urinary Tract Diseases in Cats



Functional lesions

Joint diseases

Degeneration of respiratory function such as respiratory

difficulty in breathing

difficulty in delivery

exercise intolerance

susceptibility to heat stroke

Decreased immune function

Increased risk of anesthesia

Reduced life expectancy

1. Diabetes

One of the most common health issues seen in obese cats is diabetes. Just like in humans, obesity can lead to insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes. Cats with diabetes require lifelong management, including a strict diet and insulin injections. This chronic condition can significantly reduce a cat's lifespan and require ongoing veterinary care.

2. Joint Problems

Excess weight puts a significant strain on a cat's joints, leading to an increased risk of joint disorders such as arthritis. The added pressure on the joints can cause pain, reduced mobility, and difficulty in performing everyday activities. Cats with arthritis may be less active, have difficulty climbing or jumping, and may even become aggressive due to pain.

Recommended Joint Medication

Glucosamine HCL, chondroitin sulfate, and dimethyl sulfone (MSM), a natural source of the joint-supporting mineral boron, help maintain healthy cartilage and strong bones. These tasty supplements can also help relieve discomfort from daily activities and help relieve pain caused by excessive running and jumping.

Puainta™ 关节补充剂Puainta™ Chondroitin Joint Supplements

3. Heart Disease

Obesity is closely linked to an increased risk of heart disease in cats. The heart has to work harder to pump blood through the excess fat, leading to an elevated heart rate and higher blood pressure. Over time, this can result in the development of various cardiovascular conditions, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can be life-threatening.

4. Respiratory Problems

Obese cats often struggle with respiratory issues, primarily due to the extra weight compressing their lungs. Labored breathing, shortness of breath, and decreased tolerance for exercise are common signs. Obese cats may also develop sleep apnea, a condition characterized by intermittent pauses in breathing during sleep, leading to poor quality sleep and daytime fatigue.

My Cat is As Fat As My Dog: What Should I Do?

Once you determine that your cat is overweight or obese, it is important to adjust feeding to reduce weight using the appropriate nutritional products, portion sizes, and meal frequency. Veterinary formula diets help cats lose weight in a healthy and safe manner, and simply reducing the volume of their current food is not appropriate. Over time, this can lead to malnutrition.

1. Adjust the diet

In order to maintain good health, it is best to calculate your cat's daily energy requirement and then provide food with the appropriate calories according to the energy requirement.

Basic daily energy requirement (kcal) for cats = 70*weight kg^0.75

For example. The cat weighs 6.5kg, so his daily basal energy requirement is: 70*6.5^0.75=284.95kcal

That is, if you want to maintain the cat's current weight, it is best to feed him about 285 kcal per day, beyond this amount, it is easy to gain weight.

If it is a cat that wants to lose weight, it will then be on top of this *0.8,
Weight loss cat daily basic energy requirement (kcal) = 0.8*70*weight kg^0.75

For example. We want to give a 6.5kg cat to lose weight, then we should not feed him 285 kcal per day,

but 227.96 (285*0.8) Kcal kcal.


This calorie is not just the staple food, but all the food the cat eats this day combined.

The ideal rate of weight loss is 0.5%-2%/week, the rate of weight loss should not be too fast.

Remember not to starve your cat, if it does not eat for two days, it may starve out fatty liver, which can be life-threatening.

2. Encourage exercise

Increase your cat's physical activity level. Provide interactive toys, scratching posts, and climbing structures to encourage movement. Engage in play sessions with your cat using toys that promote exercise and mental stimulation. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of exercise to help burn calories and build muscle. It's important to approach weight loss in cats gradually to avoid any negative health consequences. Rapid weight loss can lead to complications like hepatic lipidosis. Follow the veterinarian's recommendations for a slow and steady weight loss plan. Move their food to an area of the house where they have to walk a bit to get to it. Spend 30 minutes a day "playing" with your cat. Let them chase a crumpled piece of paper, or a small toy, or let them follow you with a small snack. Letting your cat run up and down the stairs is also good exercise. Keeping your pet active is also a great time to bond with your pet.

3. Bowl selection

 Feed in an appropriate, cat-sized bowl that appears to be full or nearly full when food is added. Consider using a puzzle feeder for cats who need encouragement to slow down when eating.

4. Timed feeding vs free choice

Discuss with your veterinarian which feeding strategy is best for your lifestyle.

Will it Be Easier to Lose Weight in Summer?

Many people think that when the weather is hot, most cats' appetite decreases, so summer is a good time for cats to lose weight.
In 2006, a research team from the University of Liverpool's Obesity and Endocrinology Department conducted a study on "Seasonal Changes in Voluntary Eating in Domestic Cats" and found that cats do eat the least in the summer.
But since cats consume fewer calories overall, seasonal changes alone do not cause weight changes in cats.
So don't wait until summer to put your cat on a diet and act now!

Will Cat Lose Weight if it Eats Less and More Meals?

Eat only a little bit at each meal, and eat more meals a day, can you lose weight?
The University of Guelph research team had done experiments, selected eight cats of similar age and weight, divided into four groups, two of which were fed once a day, and the remaining two groups were fed four times a day.

It was found that eating fewer and more meals did not limit the appetite and intake of the cats and could not make them eat less.
However, controlling the total number of calories in multiple feedings can increase the cat's activity before mealtime.
If you can guide your cat to exercise more before a meal, it can really help to lose weight.

Signs of Obesity in Cats

It is important for cat owners to be able to recognize the signs of obesity in their feline companions. Identifying obesity early on can help prevent the associated health problems and improve the overall well-being of your cat. Here are some signs to look out for:

Excessive Weight

The most obvious sign of obesity is excessive weight gain. You should be able to feel your cat's ribs with a slight covering of fat.

Sagging Belly

An overweight cat may have a sagging or pendulous belly. This is often referred to as an "apron" or "pouch" and is caused by the accumulation of fat in the abdominal area.

Difficulty Grooming

Cats are typically fastidious groomers, but obesity can make it difficult for them to reach certain areas of their body. You may notice that your cat is not grooming as thoroughly as before, leading to a dull, unkempt coat and the presence of mats.

Difficulty in Movement

Obese cats may have difficulty moving around, especially when it comes to activities that require agility and jumping. They may be less active, have a decreased desire to play, and exhibit reluctance or inability to jump onto elevated surfaces.

Shortness of Breath

If your cat is overweight or obese, you may notice that they pant or breathe heavily after minimal exertion. Climbing stairs or even walking short distances may cause them to become quickly fatigued and struggle to catch their breath.

Changes in Behavior

Obesity can have an impact on a cat's behavior and mood. Some cats become less active, lethargic, and less interested in interacting with their environment or engaging in play. Others may show signs of irritability or aggression due to discomfort or pain associated with carrying excess weight.

Increased Appetite

While it may seem counterintuitive, some obese cats may exhibit an increased appetite. This can be due to hormonal imbalances or a disrupted satiety response. They may constantly beg for food or show food-seeking behaviors even shortly after eating a meal.

What Weight is Defined as Obese for Cats?

An animal can be called obese if it weighs more than 15% of its normal average body weight for a long period of time. Generally, a male cat of an ordinary breed over 6 kg or a female cat over 5 kg is considered obese.

However, due to the different breeds of cats, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether a cat is obese. This time, parents are provided with several reference methods to identify themselves, and those who belong to fat cats should pay attention
Distinguish by base weight

Body size is divided into small, medium, and large

Small cats, such as American short, British short, Siamese, are around 8 to 12 pounds, the average Chinese field cat is around 8 to 10 pounds, up and down no more than two kilograms is the normal range

Medium-sized cats, such as Garfield, Persian, Ragdoll. Their weight is generally 8~15 kg

Large cats, such as Norwegian Forest cats, Maine cats, etc., these larger cats can grow to 10~25 pounds

Body fat percentage judgment:

Standard size: when the cat's body fat rate is at 16%~25%

Obese body: when the cat's body fat rate is 36%~45%

Unusual/super obese body: when the cat's body fat rate is 56%~66%

You can also use the table to determine if your cat is obese.

Cat Fatness Chart

Causes of Obesity in Cats

Causes of Obesity in Cats

Obesity in cats is a multifactorial issue, and several factors can contribute to the development of excess weight. 

1. Animal-specific factors

Neutering/spaying- Neutered or spayed cats have a reduced metabolic rate and may be more prone to weight gain. Hormonal changes after the procedure can affect their appetite and metabolism. It is important to monitor their calorie intake and adjust their diet accordingly to prevent obesity.

Age-related changes- As cats age, their metabolism tends to slow down, and they may become less active. This can make them more susceptible to weight gain. Adjustments in diet and exercise routines may be necessary to prevent obesity in senior cats.

Genetic predisposition- Some cats may have a genetic predisposition to obesity. Certain breeds, such as the Maine Coon and Ragdoll, have a higher tendency to gain weight.

Lack of exercise- Cats that lead sedentary lifestyles and do not engage in regular physical activity are more prone to obesity. Indoor cats, in particular, may have limited opportunities to exercise and burn calories. Think You Have a Fat Cat? The Ten Things You Need to Know – Clinical  Nutrition Service at Cummings School

2. Diet-specific factors  

Lack of portion control- Not measuring food portions accurately can lead to overfeeding. It is essential to follow feeding guidelines provided by the cat food manufacturer.

Treats and table scraps- Feeding excessive treats or sharing human food with cats can contribute to obesity. Treats should be given in moderation and should not exceed 10% of the cat's daily caloric intake. Human food, especially high-fat and high-salt options, is generally not suitable for cats and can lead to weight gain.

Overfeeding and improper diet- One of the primary causes of obesity in cats is overfeeding and providing an improper diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, and their dietary requirements differ from those of humans or dogs. Feeding them excessive amounts of high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods can lead to weight gain. Additionally, free-feeding or leaving food available at all times can result in uncontrolled eating.


Obesity in cats is a significant health concern that should not be taken lightly. The associated problems, such as diabetes, joint issues, heart disease, respiratory problems, hepatic lipidosis, and reduced lifespan, can severely impact a cat's well-being. As responsible pet owners, it is our duty to ensure that our feline companions maintain a healthy weight through proper nutrition, regular exercise, and regular veterinary care. By doing so, we can help our cats lead happier, healthier lives for years to come.

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