Is Your Cat Overweight, Underweight or Just Right
Is Your Cat Overweight, Underweight or Just Right?

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Is Your Cat Overweight, Underweight or Just Right?

This article is part of a series on how to spot signs of a healthy cat. You can learn more about the key signs here.
 

Assessing your cat’s body condition is an important step in evaluating their overall nutritional well-being. Particularly in cases where your cat appears to be obese or thin, it is important to evaluate their total health before consulting a vet for a proper nutritional management program. Look for the following signs that your cat is overweight, underweight or just the right size.

 

thin cat i

underweight cat i

ideal weight cat i

overweight cat i

obese cat i

 

Thin Cat

  • Ribs, lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones are easily visible
  • Thick neck and narrow waist
  • Obvious abdominal tuck
  • No fat in flank folds; folds are often absent

 

Underweight Cat

  • Backbone and ribs can be easily seen or felt
  • Minimal fat covering
  • Minimal waist when viewed from above
  • Slightly tucked abdomen

 

Ideal-weight Cat

  • Ribs are easily felt, but not visible
  • A slight waist can be seen behind the ribs when viewed from above
  • Abdomen is tucked up and flank folds are present

 

Overweight Cat

  • Slight increase in fat over ribs, but still easily felt
  • Abdomen is slightly rounded and flanks are concave
  • Flank folds hang down with moderate amount of fat — you might notice a jiggle when your cat is walking

 

Obese Cat

  • Ribs and backbone aren’t easily felt under a heavy fat covering
  • Abdomen is rounded; waist is barely visible or absent
  • Prominent flank folds sway from side to side when your cat is walking

 

What to Feed Your Cat Depending on Their Weight

If Your Cat Is Underweight

Consult your vet; they may recommend a specialized diet higher in protein and fat to help your underweight cat reach an optimal weight, and will also have advice on whether to free feed your cat or feed multiple servings per day to encourage weight gain. (If you opt to feed multiple servings, IAMS™ PERFECT PORTIONS™ are an ideal way to feed your cat throughout the day.)
 

If Your Cat Is a Healthy Weight

If your cat is currently at an optimal weight, then you likely won’t need to change how much and how often you are feeding them. Make sure you are providing your cat with nutrition tailored to their age and activity level by using our Cat Food Selector and giving your cat plenty of opportunities for exercise.
 

Tip: Making sure your cat is properly hydrated is essential to their overall health. In addition to providing fresh, clean water at all times, try feeding IAMS™ PERFECT PORTIONS™ Cuts in Gravy wet food to provide additional moisture in their diet.
 

If Your Cat Is Overweight or Obese

Try feeding IAMS™ Indoor Weight and Hairball Care dry food, formulated with real chicken as the first ingredient and L-carnitine to support a healthy metabolism. IAMS™ research has shown that overweight cats fed with L-carnitine exhibit increased motivation to play — which in turn can help support a healthy weight!

 

 

Cat Body Condition Chart

  • gray and white kitten licking lips ready to eat healthy cat food containing taurine
    gray and white kitten licking lips ready to eat healthy cat food containing taurine

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    The Importance of Taurine in Kitten and Cat Food

    Taurine is an important component found in all IAMS™ kitten and cat foods. This important amino acid is essential for cats of all ages, and critical for healthy development, normal heart muscle function, vision and reproduction. It even aids in digestion!

     

    Unlike other amino acids, taurine is found as a free amino acid in body tissues, such as the heart and eyes, and is not incorporated into proteins.

     

    Most mammals manufacture taurine from other amino acids, but cats and kittens need more than their bodies can produce and rely on their food to make up the difference. Pet food’s animal-based protein ingredients are natural taurine sources, and the amino acid can also be added to pet food recipes on its own.

     

    Why Does IAMS™ Add Taurine to Kitten and Cat Food? 

    All IAMS™ kitten and cat foods are formulated with high-quality animal-based proteins that are naturally rich in taurine as their primary ingredient. So why supplement these foods with additional taurine? Two reasons: natural variability and the production process.

     

    IAMS™ Dry Cat Food: The Natural Variability 

    IAMS™ dry cat and kitten foods include taurine to supplement each food’s primary source of the amino acid — an animal-based protein like chicken, egg, lamb or fish. These natural sources naturally vary in their nutrient content, so adding supplemental taurine helps ensure your cat or kitten is getting enough in their diet every day.

     

    IAMS™ Wet Cat Food: The Production Process 

    For wet food, the canning process itself may affect the complex taurine balance of the food. That means IAMS™ wet cat foods must contain more taurine, as much as twice the taurine found in dry food, to ensure cats are getting enough.

     

    black kitten and white kitten laying on each other under a blanket, relaxed and full on healthy cat food containing taurine

     

    Symptoms of Taurine Deficiency in Cats and Kittens

    Cats and kittens need their taurine! Kittens need taurine for healthy growth and development, and adult cats that don’t get enough taurine can develop serious health conditions. Low levels of taurine put your pet at risk for preventable health conditions that can become serious over time.

     

    Impaired Vision and Blindness 

    Taurine is essential to the proper development and ongoing health of feline eyes, particularly the retinas. Without enough taurine, retinal cells can’t function properly and may die, which can cause impaired vision and even blindness (a process called feline central retinal degeneration).

     

    Heart Disease 

    Taurine plays a key role in supporting cardiovascular health, too. A lack of taurine weakens the heart muscle, which, in turn, can lead to heart failure. This condition is known as dilated cardiomyopathy and can be fatal.

     

    Decreased Reproductive Performance and Growth 

    Optimal reproductive health and growth also rely on taurine to complete a number of important health processes. Maintaining adequate levels during pregnancy, nursing and early growth helps ensure proper structural development for kittens and wellness for the mother.

     

     

    Feeding your pet well is an important part of taking care of them. Learning the importance of ingredients like taurine is one way you can ensure you’re giving them exactly what their body needs. By giving your kitten a healthy start and understanding  their nutritional needs, you’re giving them the best shot at a long, healthy and happy future. Your cat would thank you if they could!

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