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Cat Overweight But Not Overeating (Is It Suffering?)

If your cat is overweight but appears to not be overeating you may be confused and wondering why…

Why is my cat overweight but not overeating?

Your cat may be overweight even though it’s not overeating for several reasons. Such as bloating, health issues, or even pregnancy. Regarding health issues, common ailments include hypothyroidism or even parasites.

So, now you know. But, what are the main reasons for this? How can I prevent it from happening? Could your cat be fine, but you just think it’s overweight? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

3 Main Reasons Your cat may look overweight without overeating:

why is my cat getting fat

A cat near a food bowl.

As discussed earlier there are several reasons as to why your cat is looking this way. But, here are a few main ones that it could be:

01. Pregnant

Most people would assume that it would be blatantly obvious if their cat was pregnant. But, believe it or not, many cat owners overlook this and think it could be obesity, or something else.

Why? Because most cats get pregnant without their owners knowing that they have mated. This is especially for outdoor cats.

02. Hypothyroidism

This is a more complex issue that affects cats as well as us humans. The thyroid gland may underproduce the vital thyroid hormones that control the usage of the energy in your cat’s body.

This can result in a lack of energy burned to make your cat look overweight even though they are clearly not overeating.

03. Swallowing air (Bloating)

Some cats are known to eat really fast. This can cause them to collect air pockets in their stomach which can make them appear to be bloated and overweight.

How can I prevent my cat from looking overweight?

If your cat is genuinely not overeating then to prevent it from looking this way you need to work out what the root cause of the problem is. For example, if it’s eating (Is it also watching you eat? click here) too fast then use a slow feeder (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad) to slow it down, etc.

Can this overweight look be dangerous for your cat?

If your cat looks overweight it can always be dangerous in the long term. If it’s overeating it runs the risk of obesity. And, if it’s not, it could be another underlying health issue that needs your attention.

How often should you feed an overweight cat?

If your cat is overweight because they are overeating it’s better to feed them 3 to 4 times a day. But, the key thing is controlling the portion sizes.

Also, avoid free-feeding, this tends to encourage them to eat big portions then beg for more after.

What other reasons can make a cat get fat?

The reason why your cat is getting fat could be linked to a few reasons. Most likely linked to not enough activity, overeating, or having too many treats. Fortunately, most of these issues can be resolved.

Indoor cats, in particular, find it harder to get regular exercise. So, you must get around this ( but more on this in detail later on in the article). Let me explain why older cats tend to gain weight easily, the risks that weight gain introduces, how to reduce weight, and more.

Older Cats and weight gain

Older cats have different challenges. They tend to have a slower metabolism and reduced activity as they get older. This is natural and expected.

The thing that you need to be careful of is their diet. In particular, avoid feeding your older cat the same volume of food as you did when she was younger.

This is because they won’t be able to burn off as many calories as they once did. You need to re-evaluate their diet if you find out your older cat is putting on a lot of weight.

Is your cat really overweight or is this all in your mind?

It is not always easy to establish if your cat is really overweight. One of the challenges is, each breed of cat has a different expected weight.

For example, if you have a Maine Coon (click here to see why Maine Coon’s are so big), they are naturally larger. So, you can’t expect to look at the numbers on a scale and compare them to the weight of a Persian cat, are you with me?

Body Conditioning scoring

Instead of looking at the weight of your cat, there is body conditioning scoring. You can easily find this online. This system allows you to benchmark your cat’s weight and get an idea if they are overweight or even underweight.

Meantime there are simple things you can do while you’re at home that can help you to establish if your cat is overweight or not.

Bear in mind that this will need a certain amount of practice to get right. So, don’t expect to do this once and get a conclusive result. Here are a few techniques that you can use…

Checking your cat’s ribs

With this technique, the idea is to feel your cat’s ribbed to get an idea of how much fat (Is bacon grease too fatty for cats? Click here) is in between her rib bones and the rest of her body.

This is done by gently stroking her as normal, to make her feel comfortable, so you can move to her ribs area to gauge her weight.

The idea is to stroke your hands around her rib cage area and see if you can feel her rib bones. Do not apply too much pressure. You should be lightly touching it. If you find that you can easily feel her ribs without too much pressure, this is a good sign. It indicates that she is not overweight.

However, if you find that you have to really press hard to find where her ribs are, then the chances are your cat is either overweight or something else.

Check if you can identify her waistline

With this technique, you will be gauging the shape of her body. In particular, in relation to her waistline. Look down at your cat from above and see if you can see the shape of her waistline.

Ideally, you should see an hourglass looking figure from above looking down. Her abdomen should not be wider than the width of her shoulders.

If you find that the abdomen is protruding quite a lot beyond the width of her shoulders this is an indication that she is overweight. Again, note that I said “indication” and not “she is overweight”, because this is not conclusive.

Check the condition of her back

Have a look at your cats back, in particular, is their back flat? Is there signs of matting or greasy fur around that area? Can you see obvious signs of a potbelly?

Also, look out for dandruff around the middle of their back. You tend to find that obese cats have difficulty grooming these areas, and this is an indication that she is overweight.

How can too much weight affect your cat?

Cat won't wear collar.

A sad-looking cat.

As with humans, feeling overweight tends to affect us, not only physically but also psychologically. This is similar to the behavior of your cat.

If she is overweight, especially if she is obese she will start to neglect certain things. For example, she may stop grooming herself, neglecting general hygiene, and may even neglect basic exercise.

Basically, your cat may become anxious and depressed.

Also, cats that are obese or largely overweight are susceptible to other diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and other health-related issues.

So, this is why it is important to monitor your cat’s weight (click here to see if it changes frequently) and prevent them from getting in this situation in the first place.

How can you help your cat to reduce weight?

Firstly, you can do this by reducing her portions. Some cat owners have a technique called “free feeding” (click here to see if you should be leaving food out at night or all day). The idea is to leave food out all day for the cat to graze on food at their leisure.

The problem with this is cats typically do not know when to stop eating and will just continually eat all day, which can lead to obesity.

Switching to a Scheduled Diet

To prevent this from happening it is a good idea to switch to a schedule-based diet. Which, will allow you to give a couple of portion-controlled meals a day. This will allow you to monitor your cats eating activities and reduce the amount of she is eating.

Solo feeding

This tip is more applicable to people that have got more than one cat in their household. It is tempting and more practical for you to feed them your cats at the same time and put out one supply of food.

The problem with this technique is, a more dominant cat can start to consume the smaller cat’s food. Meaning one becomes underfed and the other becomes obese and overweight.

Using this technique of separating meals, will allow you to monitor each cat and spot if they have any feeding or health issues. Also, if they’re losing their appetite or just flat out not eating.

Start to incorporate activity daily

This one may seem completely obvious to you but you need to start to incorporate daily activity/exercise. This is specifically for indoor cats that struggle to get much exercise at all.

Simple things like providing them with a cat tree (click here to see why they are my best 3 Cat Trees). This will allow them to get exercise.

You can also use toys such as a laser toy (click here to see the price on Amazon #Ad) or a  cat playpen (Click here for my best 3 cat playpens) which will keep them happy and active for hours.

Other things that you can consider using are very simple toys such as a piece of string dragged around the room, a ball of wool, or even a little plastic ping pong ball.

As simple as this sounds, these little things will add to the activity of your cat and help them to burn off unwanted calories rather than sitting around all day sleeping in your cat window perch (Click here to see why I feel this is one is best) and not getting any activity. This little activity could be the difference between a healthy cat and one heading down the road of obesity.

Lindsey Browlingdon