How do you tell if your cat is fat?

Cat on Baby Scale
This scale does not tip when your cat walks on it. I have added a non-skid mat.

You can weigh her.  The easiest way to do this is to purchase a baby scale.  There are many brands online for purchase – check the customer reviews.  You will not be putting the scale through the heavy use a veterinary clinic does, so one of the less expensive ones should work.  I prefer the style that does not have a separate tray – these do not “tilt” if your cat backs up or steps on the edge.

But weight does not tell the entire story…

The Body Condition Score – how do you tell if your cat is fat?

  • assigns a number between 1-9 to your cat
  • uses your cat’s profile
  • uses how much fat covers the ribs
  • uses how big is the fat pad on her belly
  • a score of 1 is skeletal
  • a score of 9 is very overweight
  • a score of 5 is JUST RIGHT!

The BCS ( Body Condition Score chart ) in 3 steps

  1. Look at your cat from overhead
  2. Look at your cat from the side
  3. Feel your cat’s ribs

Your Cat from Overhead – your cat should have a “waist” between the end of his ribs and his hips

Your Cat should have a waist
From Left to Right: Gus as he lost weight BCS 8, BCS 6.5, BCS 5

Your cat from the side – your cat should have a “tuck” when seen/felt from the side – this is separate from the loose flap of skin on the belly

Your Cat should have a tuck when seen from the side
Zelda as she lost weight: Left – BCS of 9, and BCS of 6

Feel Your Cat’s Ribs



  • Feel your cat’s side with FLAT fingers – you should be able to feel her ribs; there will be small layer amount of fat
  • If you have to “dig” (turn your fingers in ) a little, her score may be a 6 or 7
  • If you can’t feel her ribs at all because of the fat covering, she is most likely a score 8 or 9 – she will have a rounded belly with an easily felt fat pad.
if your cat is long-haired, it is much harder to score her visually.  You will have to feel her waist and “tuck” through the fur.

Muscle Condition – part of your cat’s body condition


How do you tell if your cat is fat? Check her muscle condition.

  • Use your fingers to feel the muscle along either side of the spine.
  • What you are feeling for is the thickness of the muscle.
  • A healthy young cat’s back muscles will feel like the outer edge of the palm of your hand.
  • As your cat ages or becomes sick, the muscles will thin out and feel more like the balls of your hands (MILD muscle loss).
  • Further aging and disorders like chronic kidney disease can reduce muscle mass further. The muscle will feel more like the backs of your hands (MODERATE muscle loss).
  • With very old or very sick cats, the vertebrae and pelvic bones become more pronounced  and feel more like your knuckles (SEVERE muscle loss).
You can assess your cat’s muscle condition when you are stroking her – think of it as a back massage!

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