5 Signs Your Cat is Overweight

Cat obesity can cause various health problems, which is why it’s important to diagnose it on time. If your indoor-only cat is middle-aged and neutered, this article is for you.

Feb 15, 2024By Monika Dimitrovska
signs your cat is overweight

Obesity in felines isn’t anything unusual or uncommon. In fact, it’s present in about 60% of cats in developed countries. So, if you suspect your cat is overweight, take immediate action because those extra pounds can cause various health issues.

Signs your cat is overweight include difficulty jumping up onto things, poor hygiene, lack of energy, urinary tract issues, and heavy breathing, which we’ll discuss in this article.

Is My Cat Overweight?

overweight cat laying on the floor
Image credit: Q K from Pixabay

Some felines, like the Norwegian Forest cat, appear bigger because of their thick coat. However, most cats with regular coats that look bigger typically have weight issues. You can actually determine if your feline is overweight by observing their waistline, ribs, and behavior. Here’s how:

  • Look at your furry companion from above while standing. Check for a slight dip above their hips. If you can’t see the dip or if their sides look round, your cat might be overweight.
  • Run your hand along your cat’s chest. If you can slightly feel your cat’s ribs, they’re probably at a healthy weight.
  • Outdoor and indoor cats can move quickly and jump high. If your cat has difficulty jumping up onto things, or if they give up entirely, they’re probably overweight.

The benefits of owning a cat can’t be counted on one hand, but you should also care for your cat’s well-being. That way, you can ensure your feline stays with you longer.

If you still can’t tell if your feline is overweight, maybe the following section can help:

5 Signs Your Cat is Overweight

black and white cat eating
Image credit: Laura Chouette from Unsplash

If your cat weighs 10-20% more than their ideal body weight, they’re overweight. And if their excess fat is over 20% of their ideal body weight, they’re obese.

Here’s a breakdown of common signs of obesity in cats:

1. Low Energy

Cats sleep a lot, but healthy ones also play a lot. It’s one of the ways to battle boredom in indoor cats. If your feline doesn’t have high levels of energy or isn’t interested in laser chasing anymore, they might be overweight.

2. Skin/Coat Problems

The belly of obese felines usually touches the floor, causing bald patches because of all the friction. Sometimes, they might even experience other skin and coat issues, such as hair loss or barbering because of obesity-related stress.

So, if you notice skin or coat problems in your cat, schedule a vet visit immediately and have your furry friend examined by a professional. Don’t just wait for these problems to disappear on their own because they’re uncomfortable for cats.

orange cat fur
Image credit: bao sabrina from Unsplash

3. Urinary Tract Issues

Obese cats are more likely to develop urinary tract issues, such as blockages or infections.

So, if you notice that your feline has difficulty urinating, excessively grooms their genital area, or passes blood when peeing, contact your vet immediately.

Urinary tract conditions can cause even bigger issues if left untreated. And they’re very uncomfortable for cats, so don’t let yours suffer.

4. Grooming Issues

Grooming is a part of every cat’s life, so if your cat stops grooming itself, it’s either sick or overweight. Overweight and obese cats have difficulty grooming themselves. They can’t reach their genital areas, which can result in coat problems, urinary tract infections, etc.

5. Heavy Breathing

Overweight and obese cats use more energy doing simple tasks throughout the day, so they get tired more easily than healthy cats. They also have difficulty breathing because of the extra stress of carrying extra pounds.

Heavy or raspy breathing can also result from extra fat pilling along the windpipe, which can cause chronic lung and heart issues if the cat doesn’t lose weight.

What if My Cat is Slightly Overweight?

cat laying on the floor
Image credit: Q K from Pixabay

Cats don’t have nine lives, so the answer is no; your cat shouldn’t be overweight because they’re at a higher risk of developing arthritis, heart disease, endocrine and metabolic disorders, and other health conditions.

Although a slight increase in weight won’t kill your cat, you should ask your vet for diet recommendations that can help your cat reach and maintain their ideal weight.

Do Indoor Cats Get Overweight?

cat looking outside a window
Image credit: Hans Ott from Unsplash

Indoor-only and mainly indoor felines have a higher chance of becoming overweight or obese, especially neutered (higher appetite) and senior (reduced mobility) ones.

However, don’t let this prevent you from adopting a senior cat and saving a life! If you feed your indoor feline per your vet’s recommendations and provide enough exercise, they’re less likely to become overweight or obese.

NOTE: Increased appetite can also be a sign of hyperthyroidism in cats.

What Can Cause a Cat to Be Fat?

person giving cat a snack
Image credit: Piotr Musioł from Unsplash

Cat obesity is a result of individual characteristics and diet. Here’s why:

  • Age: Middle-aged cats (8-12 years old) have a slower metabolism, so they are more likely to gain weight.
  • Neutered: Neutered cats, both male and female, have increased appetites, which can result in weight gain.
  • Exercise: Unlike stray cats who live outside and move constantly, indoor felines lack exercise, resulting in obesity.
  • Underlying health conditions: Food allergies and joint pain can make weight management for cats harder.
  • Type of diet: Cats who eat mainly dry food might gain extra weight over time.
  • Too much food: Overfeeding can cause obesity for obvious reasons. You can prevent this by measuring your cat’s food. Moreover, avoid giving your cat large, infrequent means as this increases the risk of obesity.
  • Eating fast and too often: Fast eating can result in overfeeding and behavioral issues in cats.
  • Excessive treats: Offering too many treats can result in calorie imbalance in your cat’s diet.

What To Do if Your Cat is Overweight?

black cat playing with toys
Image credit: Madalyn Cox from Unsplash

Give your vet all the details about your cat’s life, including type and amount of food and feeding times. They will set a calorie goal for weight loss and suggest strategies like the following:

  • Calorie-controlled foods promote weight loss while maintaining muscle mass. So, choose diets with higher protein and insoluble fiber for a fuller feeling. Moreover, encourage your cat to drink more water.
  • Switching from a dry to a canned diet may be needed for nutrient goals.
  • “Metabolic-control” diets induce ketosis for fat burning. If your vet suggests this option, transition slowly to prevent upset.
  • Choose lower-fat, higher-fiber treats and incorporate them into the daily calorie goal.
  • Use a cat-size bowl or puzzle feeders to slow down eating.
  • Provide enough exercise, and consider walks with a harness if your cat is up for it. Although there aren’t dog parks for cats, you can still walk your furry friend in a regular one or around your neighborhood.


cat looking at a mirror
Image credit: Eduard Delputte from Unsplash

In a nutshell, obesity in cats is just as dangerous as obesity in people. So, if your cat is overweight or obese, ask your vet for a weight loss plan and stick to it.

And don’t forget, the plan might need a few adjustments as your feline gets older, but regular talks with your vet will make sure you both stay on the right track.

Monika Dimitrovska
By Monika Dimitrovska

Monika is a pet enthusiast and seasoned copywriter with a tech degree. She loves writing, but her heart belongs to her two mixed dogs, Buba and Bono, a mother-son duo. Bono’s siblings found loving homes, sparking Monika’s advocacy for neutering and deepening her curiosity about animal care.

But Monika’s pet family doesn’t end there. She also has two cockatiels and two rescue cats, proving her home is a haven for creatures big and small.