When your rotund pal waddles her way into your lap, you give her cuddles and praise how cute she is. But having some extra weight isn’t something you should take lightly. Obesity puts your cat at higher risk for diseases like diabetes and arthritis. Using a bit of simple math, you can calculate your cat’s BMI and determine if she is overweight.
At least half of all cats are overweight, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center. A cat is considered obese if she is at least 20 percent or more over ideal weight for her breed. One of the major causes of obesity is the practice of free feeding. Leaving food out all day makes it really easy for your cat to overeat, which leads her to pack on pounds. Feeding your cat a healthy diet high in protein and low in carbs twice a day will help promote a healthy weight. Instead of giving her a treat when she does something well, break out her favorite toy and encourage play. Just like for humans, exercise and a healthy diet are key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Body mass index, or BMI, measures the ratio of girth to a measurement of length. In humans, this relationship is done by weight and height. When figuring out your cat’s BMI you will need to take two measurements. Begin by wrapping a flexible measuring tape around her rib cage. It should be snug, but not overly tight. Then measure the length of her lower back leg from knee to ankle.
To calculate her BMI you’ll need to do a little math involving the measurements you took. First, divide the rib cage measurement by 0.7062, and then subtract the leg measurement. Then, divide your answer by 0.9156. Finally, subtract the leg length again. This number is her BMI. If the number is greater than 42, then it’s time for her to shed a few pounds.
Body Condition Score
Another way of determining if your cat is overweight is the body condition score, still commonly used by vets. It is a score of 1 to 5 determined by looking at your cat’s profile and feeling for her ribs. A score of “1” means the cat is emaciated, and a score of “5” indicates obesity. A healthy cat should have ribs you can feel, but not see, along with a defined waist. An obese cat has so much padding that you can't feel the ribs. From above, your cat’s waistline is considerably wide and from the side her stomach will hang down.