Have you ever wondered: “How big will my cat get?” They don't stay cute little fur balls forever! True, the Munchkin, as the name suggests, was specifically bred for smallness and the delicate boned Singapura is also known as the love cat. But don't forget the big fun that is a Maine coon cat or the gentle giants that are Ragdolls.
A cat is a lovable creature regardless of size, but for practical reasons, you may want to keep adult size in mind when getting a kitten. Breed, nutrition and health are all the most important factors on just how big Kitty will get.
How Big Will My Cat Get?
The Cat's Breed
The breed is certainly a factor. The Savannah, for example, is close to a small dog in size, having a bit of serval blood in the background. At 25 pounds, the chausie looks like a miniature cougar and like to play rough. The Siberian's size isn't completely hair; there's a stocky body underneath it.
The Siamese is best known for the lithe gracefulness only a slender body could allow. The adorable little Munchkin has been crossbred to make designer breeds such as the Bambino, the Dwelf, the Napoleon and the Skookum. As the names suggest, they're all on the diminutive side.
If you can't tell a kitten's breed right away, get a look at the parents if you can. The simple laws of genetics mean that kittens will be around the size of their parents, erring on the larger side as genes for being large tend to be more dominant. Generally, the male will be somewhat larger than the female.
Sexual maturity can start relatively early between six and nine months. Pregnancy isn't good for a still growing body, so keep an eye on her or better yet, get her spayed.
Reeling in the Months
Unlike with puppies, it's hard to tell from paw size how big a cat will get. However, looking at the size of the back legs is a good indicator. Tall back legs generally indicate a big cat in the making. By the age of four months, your cat's tail is as big as it's getting and at five months she will be about half the weight she will be when she finishes growing.
By six months, the growth will start to slow. Most cats reach their full size by nine months to one year, but some breeds (especially the large ones) are exceptions to the rule.
Nutrition in the first ten months of life is crucial to a cat's growth. An underfed stray might be undergrown, but a diet enriched by vitamin supplements could help her catch up. A well fed cat that's been chowing down on prey, raiding trash cans, stealing food from other cats (naughty kitty!) or using her cuteness to get extra treats might get a little larger than expected. Also if you notice that your cat has lost appetite or is not eating properly then you need to adress that right away!
Keep in mind, underfeeding a cat is cruel. She needs a diet rich in proteins in order to thrive. Overfeeding a cat is also cruel. There is a reason The Guinness Book of World Records retired their “Heaviest Cat” category. Himmy, a tabby of Queensland, Australia, tipped the scales at 46.8 pounds and only lived to his tenth year with respiratory problems. Of more recent note was Meow, an orange and white shorthair whose 39.6 pounds caused his lungs to fail. Keep Kitty's diet reasonable.
A Myth Busted
There is a common myth that spaying or neutering a cat will cause him or her to get fat. The truth is, if this is done at a young age, this might actually cause the cat to be a little on the trim side. The shift in hormones can cause changes in metabolism and where fat is stored.
She will need fewer calories and should be encouraged to exercise more. A laser pointer should do the trick by triggering her chase and pouncing instincts. If you sterilize a very young cat, consider switching from kitten food to adult food. Maintenance food will have fewer calories and be easier to digest.
As your own doctor has probably told you, portion control is crucial to a healthy weight. Dry food generally contains 300 calories per cup whereas canned food contains about 250 calories to a 6 ounce can. This may differ from one brand to the next, so read that label!
A good rule of thumb is to feed the kitty (no pun intended) 24 to 35 calories for each pound per day. Growing kittens and pregnant or nursing queens might need slightly more. Cats don't always drink water as often as they should, so give them wet food every once in a while to make up for it if they're not much for hunting.
Leaving dry food out can cause Kitty to have the bad habit of mindlessly snacking when bored, so don't do anything that would encourage that behavior.
A cat's basic frame will vary from one breed to the next but should overall have an hourglass shape when viewed from the top. If your cat has very thick fur, you may have to feel for this shape. The belly should not sag and the ribs and spine should be easily felt but not seen. Always check with your veterinarian before making any dramatic changes to Kitty's diet.
So What Have We Learned Today?
We have learned that cats come in all shapes and sizes. These shapes and sizes are largely determined by genetics, though health habits certainly play a role as well. We've learned most of the growing is done in the first year of life, reaching half adult size at the age of five months and tapering off between nine months to a year. (Once more: Your mileage may vary.)
What and how often Kitty eats can determine how big she gets. A cat should be neither underfed nor overfed. Sterilization in of itself does not necessarily mean your cat will pack on the pounds. Portion control is important as is water intake.
Make sure your cat has a healthy body shape and keep tabs with your veterinarian. Keep all things in moderation and your cat will be healthy and happy no matter what size.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Feeding Your Cat Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Does Spaying and Neutering Make Cats Fat on PetMD
- Obesity in pets American Animal Hospital Association
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