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What is a healthy cat weight?

Are you asking a question like this as you look at your own cat? If so, you might be wondering whether your feline companion is maintaining a healthy cat weight.

For many pet owners, this is (or should be) a very real concern. According the 2015 Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) Pet Obesity Survey, an estimated 53.8% of U.S. cats seen by veterinarians were overweight, and 28.1% of those were obese.

While what constitutes an average cat weight can vary by breed, studies have shown that the Domestic Shorthair, Domestic Longhair, Domestic Medium Hair, Mixed and Manx breeds were more likely to be obese. Also, mixed-breed cats have a greater tendency toward obesity than many purebred cats.

In addition to breed, other factors can play a role in a cat’s weight. For example, cats that live indoors, especially in smaller spaces such as apartments, are more likely to be overweight. Also, spayed or neutered cats have a greater tendency to put on extra weight.

For a cat, even a single excess pound can have a significant impact. Think of it this way: just one extra pound on a Domestic Shorthair, Longhair or Medium Hair cat is equal to 14 to 15 pounds on a 5’4” woman.

How can you determine whether your pet is at a healthy body condition, which can mean she’s maintaining a healthy cat weight? A system known as body condition scoring (BCS) can provide the answer. Purina® has a nine-point BCS system which provides not just descriptions but also visual references, designed to assist veterinary professionals and pet owners in assessing feline body condition. Using the Purina® Pro Plan® Body Condition Score Tool, (LINK TO TOOL) you can score your own cat’s body condition on a scale ranging from one (too thin) to nine (too heavy). Ideal body condition (number four or five on the scale) is described as: Ribs easily felt with minimal overlying fat layer. Clear waistline behind ribs and noticeable tummy tuck when viewed from side.

So what happens if your pet’s score is on the “too heavy” end of the body condition scale, which could imply she’s not in the healthy cat weight range? That’s when it’s time to talk to your veterinarian about ways to help manage her weight.

There are a number of different dietary options to help reduce your cat’s Body Condition Score. A new system from Purina® offers an innovative and effective solution to the challenge of “cutting calories.” Instead of reducing usual daily caloric input, an approach known as Continuous Calorie Restriction (CCR), the new Pro Plan Simply FitTM diet is based on Intermittent Calorie Restriction (ICR).

A CCR diet requires calorie restriction on a daily basis, which can be less than satisfying for both cats and their owners. However, the Pro Plan® Simply FitTM system works by changing the calorie intake, without affecting the size of the portions you feed. Patented by Purina®, ICR varies calorie intake over time through an alternating weekly feeding schedule involving two foods—one with a base calorie amount and one with 25% fewer calories. This system helps keep metabolism continuously active, helping cats lose body fat, maintain lean muscle mass and reach an ideal body condition, without changing the amount of food in their bowl.

If you think a program such as an ICR method might be an option to help your pet come closer to a more fit average cat weight , be sure to talk to your veterinarian about a healthy cat weight and the steps you need to take and the time frame in which you can expect to see results.

References
Laflamme, Dottie. “Development and Validation of a Body Condition Score System for Dogs.” Canine Practice 22 No. 4 (1997): 10-15. Print.

“Intermittent Caloric Restriction (ICR) As An Effective Means To Manage Obesity.” Purina Institute Scientific Review.

“With overweight pets, there’s more to love.” PPVD Feline Brochure

Association for Pet Obesity Prevention