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Advice From Dr. Lindsey: Obesity in Cats

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Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM

Obesity in cats is an incredibly common concern with many pet parents. It is a preventable disease in cats. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 33.8% of cats in America are obese. Cats are considered overweight when they weigh 10-20% more than their ideal body weight. They are considered obese when they weigh more than 20% of their ideal body weight. 

Obesity can cause a cat many problems and can shorten and decrease their quality of life. Obesity in cats can cause heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, skin problems, and bladder stones. Also, overweight cats that stop eating are at risk for developing a disease called hepatic lipidosis. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose a cat with obesity by using a body condition score chart. There are dog and cat charts and I have attached the cat body condition score chart below. Your veterinarian may want to run some bloodwork to check for underlying diseases that can cause or be the result of obesity. 

Once any of those problems are addressed, your veterinarian may want to put the cat on a special diet. It is very important for obese cats to lose weight gradually. There are prescription foods that your veterinarian may recommend. These foods will be lower in calories than regular food but still contain balanced nutrients. Do not just decrease the amount of regular food a cat gets as this will lead to malnutrition over time. Your veterinarian can help you find the best food for your cat, and they will discuss portions and meal frequency based on the individual cat’s needs. It’s important to have weight rechecks at least once a month to monitor the cat’s progress. 


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Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.