When you take your cat to the veterinarian for a check up, there is a set of criteria used to determine its overall health in terms of body weight. This scale ranges from one to nine, and your vet does a simple check of the cat with their hands to determine if there are any possible underlying issues or if the cat needs to gain or lose weight. The next time you take your cat in for a check up, find out more about the way your vet makes this determination.
For cats that are underweight and need extra nourishment, the veterinarian is looking at the following:
- Visible ribs, particularly on short-haired cats, and cats that have no obvious fat. Underweight cats have an appearance of a sucked in tummy, and the spine and hip bones look much more pronounced.
- The cat's backbone may be visible, which is a telltale sign it is underweight. Muscle mass will also appear to be minimal.
- Your vet will run their hand along the cat's back and under their belly to feel the ribs and spine, and make an assessment based on how much muscle and fat is covering these areas. If it's determine that your cat is underweight, they may recommend trying a new type of food with more protein or more frequent feedings.
Ideal Weight (5)
Cats at an ideal weight are rated at a 5 on the scale. These cats should show the following qualities when examined:
- The cat has a well proportioned body that shows a clear waist behind the ribs.
- The ribs can still be felt by the vet, but there will be a small covering of fat.
- Under the cat's abdomen should be a small bit of fat. If your cat meets all of these criteria, it is at the ideal weight for its size and age. Your vet will most likely advise you to continue on with whatever regimen you are already using.
Overweight cats can undergo serious health risks. Here is what your vet looks at to determine if your cat is overweight;
- The ribs can still be felt, but there may be excessive fat covering them. There is no abdominal tuck, and their fat pad underneath is more noticeable.
- Extremely overweight cats may not have ribs that can be felt at all when the vet does their check up. The cat may also not have a waist that can be seen, and instead presents a more rounded stomach.
- Some overweight cats may also prevent fat deposits around their face and limbs. The tummy may also be distended (sticking out a bit more than usual) with excess fat deposits.
- If your vet determines that your cat is overweight, they will recommend restricting its diet and suggest that the cat get more exercise. Engaging in play time can help keep your cat more active and help them lose weight.
Once your cat's current body condition is determined, you can make better decisions for the future in order to make sure it lives a healthy, happy, and long life.