Feeling your cat's shoulder blades, ribs and spine

Judging by searches on the Internet, there is a concern among some cat owners about the weight of their cat and the fact that they can feel their cat's shoulder blades, ribs and spine. I'm not necessarily referring to feeling these aspects of anatomy at the same time but all three bone structures can be felt when a cat is in good health and not necessarily underweight. The photo shows a slender stray cat. They are often slender because they eat less than domestic cats and move more! This cat is slightly underweight.

Image by Liselotte Brunner from Pixabay showing a slender cat

Shoulder blades

These invariably stick up when a domestic cat is in a certain position. They are quite prominent most of the time in a cat of the correct weight. There is quite a large depression in between them. It's all normal. Obviously there are various degrees of prominence of a feline's shoulder blades. No doubt when they are very prominent the cat is likely to be underweight. But when they are modestly prominent and can be felt by their owner and indeed are visible as well, the owner should not be concerned about their cat being underweight.

Ribs

They should be felt as if covered slightly or lightly by some fat when a cat is of the correct weight. It is notable that there should be some covering of skin and fat to take away some of that definition from feeling the ribs. Under these circumstances the cat will be of the correct weight. If they can be felt quite markedly and if the spine is also overly visible or can be felt too easily then I would suggest that the cat is underweight.

Spine

My cat is about the correct weight. He tends to be what I would describe as "fighting fit". That means slender. He is slender because he is active and does not overeat. I can just about feel his spine when he sits down in the upright position i.e. on his bottom in that familiar pose that we see in ancient Egyptian statues. Also when he is walking around on my lap. This is all normal. You can feel your cat's spine when he or she is within the normal weight range. But you might not which would also be in the acceptable weight range. 

Once again, the amount the definition that you can feel will vary and at one end of the spectrum where the definition is pronounced it is likely that your cat will be underweight. If the spine is visible then it is likely your cat is very underweight.

But the point here is that if you are able to feel your cat's spine by rubbing your hand along it with slight pressure, it does not mean that your cat is underweight. Although it might mean that he is underweight depending upon, as mentioned, the amount the definition of the spine that you feel or how pronounced the spine is. But you can't jump to an automatic conclusion that just because you can feel your cat's spine that he or she is underweight.

The reason why I am going on about this is because I sense that quite a lot of cat owners are concerned, because they can feel these bone structures of their cat, that there cat is underweight. And weight loss is a very general symptom for a wide range of illnesses. Illness leads to lack of appetite and of course lack of appetite needs to loss of weight.

How do I conclude this short post? I believe that if you want to assess a cat's weight you have to look at various visual aspects and the test does not exclusively include feeling for the bone structures mentioned.

Assessing weight

To be honest, I think people should take a commonsense approach to assessing their cat's weight. We all know what an overweight person looks like and we all know what an underweight person looks like. Use that basic common sense to assess your cat in the same way. There are many resources online as well if you are unsure. For example, on another website of mine you can have a look at some photographs or illustrations which may guide you by clicking here.

Senior cats

Senior cats tend to put on weight, the opposite problem. So unless maintaining a good body weight is a problem, senior cat should be on a reduced-calorie diet. There is an obesity epidemic we are told by the veterinarians. Obesity leads to illnesses such as diabetes. If your cat is overweight she should lose weight gradually to avoid fatty liver disease. You can read about that by clicking this link.

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