The importance of weighing your cat
There are many reasons why knowing the weight of your cat is very important. Many cats can easily appear to be eating because they linger at the food bowl, nibbling, but it can be hard to tell for certain whether they are eating the same number of kibbles as they normally do, or the same amount of canned food - especially in multiple cat households, where a second cat may come along and gobble up the leftovers before we see it. Since cats don't tell us loud and clear when they are not feeling well, monitoring a weekly weight on older cats can be very useful in monitoring their health. It is helpful for us if you can assist in trending your cat's weight at home as it alerts us to health concerns sooner. Similarly, it can be a benefit in monitoring a positive response to treatment; and, it may even help us to avoid a visit or two entirely.
Many people already check their cats' weight periodically by stepping on a scale, weighing themselves, and then weighing themselves while holding a cat. While this is a good idea in theory, it doesn't provide weights that are precise enough to be helpful for weights as small as a cat.
In a 2013 study by Rutgers University and the National Institute of Health, it was found that digital home bathroom scales could vary anywhere from 0.4 pounds to almost 4 pounds, and that dial scales could be off by almost 6 pounds! Since a weight gain or loss of a half a pound (0.5 pounds) in a cat can be significant, you can see that a better solution must be found.
Fortunately, since you can put cats in things, there are some creative ways that you can get an accurate weight. While you certainly may weigh your cat in its carrier, it is sometimes easier for you use a soft canvas shopping bag, recycled grocery bags, or heavy paper bag (some cats love these) as this can be more relaxing. You may even employ a pillowcase to this end as some cats become very relaxed in this swaddled state.
- Tare (reset to zero) the scale with the weight of the item used to weigh you cat in, if you don't want to do the math afterwards and subtract.
- If you don't tare the scale before weighing your cat, be sure to weigh your carrier without your cat, afterwards.
- Be sure to weigh or tare your carrier each time, since you may have changed what else is in your carrier since the last time (blankets, towels, toys, treats...).
- Please set the scale to pounds in a decimal format.
- If your cat's weight seems to have dropped by about 50%, be sure that you aren't accidentally measuring in kilograms instead of pounds.
We recommend the Odowalker luggage scale, easily found at Amazon.com. It is extremely accurate, inexpensive and easy to use.