This article is part of a series on how to spot signs of a healthy cat. You can learn more about the key signs here.
Assessing your cat’s body condition is an important step in evaluating their overall nutritional well-being. Particularly in cases where your cat appears to be obese or thin, it is important to evaluate their total health before consulting a vet for a proper nutritional management program. Look for the following signs that your cat is overweight, underweight or just the right size.
- Ribs, lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones are easily visible
- Thick neck and narrow waist
- Obvious abdominal tuck
- No fat in flank folds; folds are often absent
- Backbone and ribs can be easily seen or felt
- Minimal fat covering
- Minimal waist when viewed from above
- Slightly tucked abdomen
- Ribs are easily felt, but not visible
- A slight waist can be seen behind the ribs when viewed from above
- Abdomen is tucked up and flank folds are present
- Slight increase in fat over ribs, but still easily felt
- Abdomen is slightly rounded and flanks are concave
- Flank folds hang down with moderate amount of fat — you might notice a jiggle when your cat is walking
- Ribs and backbone aren’t easily felt under a heavy fat covering
- Abdomen is rounded; waist is barely visible or absent
- Prominent flank folds sway from side to side when your cat is walking
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Cats are known for being a bit choosey about what they will and won’t do. And a little pickiness is fine when it comes to picking out toys and napping spots! But if your cat is or becomes extra-selective about what they’ll eat, it’s time to pay attention and perhaps talk to your vet. You and your vet know your cat best, so it’s always worth checking in if you think your cat isn’t eating enough and want their professional advice.
Start by paying close attention to what your cat is eating and how they behave. This information will help you, your household and your vet work together to make sure your cat is living and eating well.
Feeding Tips for the Truly Finicky Cat
Pay Attention to All the Cat Treats
Is your cat begging for table scraps or holding out on eating until you offer treats? Extras like these can be very disruptive to your cat’s appetite and diet. Think about them like snacks or desserts for you — tasty cravings that are easy to fill up on. A small portion may not seem like much, but it can make a big different for a cat-sized digestive system!
Try dialing back how much you treat your cat to tasty extras and see if their interest in the food bowl starts to return. Remember, it’s generally all right for cats to skip a few meals, but if they haven’t eaten for 24-36 hours it’s time to call the vet (even if they’ve continued drinking water).
Review Your Cat’s Food Routine
Humans often crave variety in their meals, but for cats, routine is king. It’s not likely they’d avoid their regular food out of boredom with it, but if you’ve recently changed the kind of food, the number of feedings or the times you feed your cat, they may be avoiding eating as a response.
It's a good idea to change your cat’s diet gradually (unless your vet advises otherwise). Pickiness can often be resolved by helping your cat adjust and get comfortable with their updated diet!
Help Your Cat Relax While Feeding
If your cat starts eating less, you may want to look for factors that could be causing stress. Seemingly unrelated changes to their environment can shift your cat’s stress levels enough to impact their interest in food. Has another animal or person joined or left the household? Has your cat been adapting to new surroundings due to a move or renovation? As the stress of that change begins to subside, your cat will probably go back to a normal diet.
Talk to your vet about good ideas for reducing your cat’s stress levels and share any concerns you have about their diet then too. You’re both on the same team, so work together to help your cat feel better!
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