Cat Obesity: What it is and the Risks for Your Pet

As a cat owner, you’re probably already aware that it is easy for cats to become overweight. But did you know feline obesity is an equally concerning problem? And do you know how to take care of a cat who may be at risk of health problems related to obesity?

In the article below, we’ll help you learn more about cat obesity and the risks it may cause for your cat. Read through this article to learn as much as you can about the problem and be sure to talk to your vet for more information if needed.

cat obesity

What is Cat Obesity?

From a medical standpoint, obesity in cats is any weight that is at least 20% more than the cat’s normal body weight. To calculate whether your cat is obese, however, you must first determine what their normal body weight might be.

How to Figure Out Your Cat’s Normal Weight

Your cat’s normal body weight should be easy to estimate if you know what breed your cat is. However, if they are a mixed breed or you’re unsure what breeds might make up their genetics, it can be more difficult to determine this number. Your veterinarian can help you learn your cat’s recommended normal body weight.

Determining if a Cat is Overweight

For example, a male Maine coon—a cat breed known for its large size—could weigh up to 18 pounds. Twenty percent of this weight is 3.6 pounds. Therefore, a Maine coon would not be considered obese until around 21.6 pounds, give or take a couple of pounds depending on the cat’s normal body size.

On the other hand, if your cat is a very small breed with an average body weight of 8 pounds, then 1.6 pounds is 20% of their body weight. An 8-pound cat would be considered obese at just 9.6 pounds, so it is necessary to know your cat’s normal weight to determine when they are healthy and when they weigh too much.

What are the Risks of Obesity in Cats?

There are many risks cats face if they are considered obese.


Diabetes is one of the most significant risks associated with obesity in cats. Cats who are obese for a long time are at a higher risk of developing diabetes; however, it is possible for cats to suffer from this condition even after short-term obesity. If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to carefully monitor their diet and exercise to reduce the effects of this condition on their health.

Heart Disease

Just like humans, cats are at an increased risk of heart disease when they are obese. The longer your cat stays obese, the more likely they will be to develop heart trouble later in life. Help them lose weight to reduce this risk.

Kidney and Liver Disease

Kidney and liver disease are common in cats who have been obese for a long time. Your cat may suffer from either of these problems and may need to be on medication or treatment for them indefinitely as a result.

Skin and Coat Health Issues

Cats who are severely obese have trouble reaching their bodies for grooming. Your cat may develop mats or clumps in their fur or may have frequent fungal infections of the skin when they are obese. It is important to keep up with your cat’s grooming needs always, but particularly when you have an obese cat.


Arthritis may occur even in cats who stay at a healthy weight throughout their lives. However, it is more common in overweight and obese cats because of the strain put on the joints by the additional weight of the cat’s body. If your cat is aging and is obese, you may notice signs of arthritis including limited mobility and a lack of interest in getting up to play or move around very much. Cats with arthritis will need to go on pain medication in many instances and may need steroid injections to help with flare-ups of this condition.

Certain Types of Cancers

Although less common as a result of obesity than other items on this list, certain types of cancers can sometimes be caused or worsened by obesity in cats. If you’re concerned about your cat developing cancer or if your cat is already at risk of cancer for other reasons, keep them at a healthy weight to significantly reduce the risks and keep them healthier overall at the same time.

Talk with Your Vet about Cat Obesity

With the help of this information, you should be able to recognize when your cat is obese and when they are on the road to obesity. From there, you can work with your veterinarian to determine a healthy diet and exercise plan for your pet and help them lose weight quickly, too.

Although it’s easy for cats to become overweight or obese, it is difficult for them to lose weight. Be patient and stay strong when helping your cat eat healthier, and you’ll be able to support them throughout their weight loss.

Is your cat obese? Book an appointment online at any of our locations to talk with your Heart + Paw veterinarian. 

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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