Body Condition Score for Cats

What is Your Cat’s Body Condition Score, and how you can check it at home?

The Body Condition Score is an international scale, widely used to assess whether or not your cat is under weight, over weight, or at an ideal level. In this post, we talk you though the scale, from 1-9, and with the help of Veterinarian Carol Doyle, show you how you can assess your cat’s Body Condition Score at home.

The Body Condition Score is the first assessment to be carried out to determine if you cat is at a healthy size, and is used in conjunction with regular weight checks to monitor changes in your cat’s size.

Your Cat’s Body Condition Score Explained

The Body Condition Score is a ranking scale form 1-9, with 1 being dangerously thin, and 9 being dangerously obese. The ideal score for your cat is 4-5. Cats with a score of 1-2 or above 7 should attend their vet immediately, as they may be at risk of serious health complications. If your cat is registering in these brackets, please do not attempt to adjust your pet’s diet or weight without veterinary supervision.

At all times, if your cat is showing any signs of distress, or experiences sudden weight loss or gain, please consult with your veterinarian.

Body Condition Score for Cats

Underweight Cat (1-3)

  • Ribs will visible on short-haired cats, and they will not have any obvious fat.
  • Their tummies will appear to be sucked in (called an ‘abdominal tuck’), and their spine and hip bones will be very pronounced.
  • Ribs and backbones are easily visible on short-haired cats.
  • There will be minimal muscle mass with no obvious fat, with a pronounced abdominal tuck.
  • Ribs can be easily felt and the backbones and waist behind ribs will be visually obvious. The cat will have a minimal fat covering across their body and on their tummy.
  • Ribs can be felt with a minimal fat covering and they have a noticeable waist behind their ribs. They will have a slight abdominal tuck but will be missing a ‘fat pad’ on their tummy.

Ideal Cat Weight (4-5)

  • You should be able to see a waist behind the ribs
  • Ribs can still be felt but with a slight fat covering
  • There will be a small paunch of fat on the abdomen

Above Ideal (6)

  • Ribs not visible but pulpable.
  • Your cat’s waist is not clearly defined when viewed from above

Obese (7-9)

  • Ribs can be felt but are covered with a slight excess fat covering.
  • Their waist and tummy fat pad are noticeable but not obvious – there is no abdominal tuck.
  • Ribs can’t be easily felt underneath a moderate fat covering.
  • Their waist can’t be easily seen and there is an obvious rounding of the stomach with a moderate abdominal fat pad.
  • Ribs can’t be felt, and are covered with excess fat.
  • Their waist is absent, and they have an obviously rounded abdomen with prominent fat pad on their tummy, and also fat on their back area.
  • Ribs and lumbar area are hidden under a heavy covering of fat, and heavy fat deposits are also present on the face and limbs.
  • The abdomen is distended and covered in fat, and there’s no discernible waist.

How to Check Your Cat’s Body Condition Score at Home

Watch as veterinarian Carol Doyle shows you how to check your cat’s Body Condition Score at home.

1. Before the Assessment

Before you begin, give your cat lots of cuddles to help her to relax! Once your cat is comfortable, you can start to assess her body condition. Include lots of gentle strokes along the way, and your pet may not even notice that they’re having a check-up!

2. Profile Check

Look at your standing cat from a side-on angle, when level with them. This will help you to get a good view of their tummy, limbs, and posture.

3. Overhead check

Look down at your standing cat from overhead. This will give you a good view of their waist and lumbar area (back).

I’ve Checked my Cat’s BCS, What Should I do Next?

If your cat is registering as a 3 or 6, you will be able to correct his BCS with some adjustments to her diet and exercise. Petmania’s pet care advisors are available 7 days a week to help you with this. Visit your local store today.

If your cat is registering as a 4-5 she is currently as her ideal size. We now need to help you to keep her there! Monitoring her diet and ensuring regular exercise is the best way to do this. Read our blog post on how to prevent your cat from gaining excess weight here.

If your cat is in the 1-2 or over 7, please make an appointment to visit her veterinarian as soon as possible.


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