Start by figuring out where your pet falls on the body condition chart. In order to do this, you will want to conduct three checks of your pet:
Rib check: Place both of your thumbs on your pet's backbone and spread both hands across his rib cage. You want to be able to feel his ribs. Actually feeling your pet is important, as the coat of many pets will make a visual check difficult.
Profile check: Examine your pet's profileit's best if you are level with the pet. Look for the abdomen to be tucked up behind the rib cage.
Overhead check: Looking at your pet from overhead, see if you can see a waist behind the ribs. Most pets at a healthy weight should have an hourglass figure.
1. Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones and all bony prominences evident from a distance. No discernible body fat. Obvious loss of muscle mass.
2. Ribs palpable without excess fat covering. Waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from side.
3. Massive fat deposits over thorax, spine and base of tail. Waist and abdominal tuck absent. Fat deposits on neck and limbs. Obvious abdominal distention.
1. Ribs visible on shorthaired cats; no palpable fat; severe abdominal tuck; lumbar vertebrae and wings of ilia easily palpated.
2. Well-proportioned; observe waist behind ribs; ribs palpable with slight fat covering; abdominal fat pad minimal.
3. Ribs not palpable under heavy fat cover; heavy fat deposits over lumbar area, face and limbs; distention of abdomen with no waist; extensive abdominal fat deposits.
The Body Condition System was developed at the NestlÃ© Purina Pet Care Center and has been validated as documented in the several publications (references available upon request).