If your cat is starting to pack on the pounds, you may be of the mind that there is simply more of him to love. While this might be true, weight gain in cats can be very dangerous.


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A gain of just one or two pounds is significant for a cat, and it can increase the risk for serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis. Being overweight or obese can also shave years off your cat’s lifespan, and that is the last thing any cat owner wants.

Though you can’t just enroll your cat in a weight loss program at the gym, there are things you can do to help him lose weight at home. A weight loss program for cats should include an increase in daily activity and a reduced caloric intake. Switching your cat to a weight loss cat food is a great way to reduce your cat’s calorie intake.

Before you go out and buy a bag of low-calorie cat food, however, you should know that simply reducing the calorie content of your cat’s food may not be enough. No matter how much he weighs, your cat still has specific requirements for nutrients to maintain his health and wellness. When it comes to the best diet cat food for weight loss, calorie content is just one factor to consider.

In this article, you’ll learn more about the dangers of obesity for cats and receive some tips for helping your cat lose weight. We’ll also talk about how to identify a good weight loss cat food and provide you with our top 10 picks for the best cat food for overweight cats.

What Are the Dangers of Obesity for Cats?

If your cat is carrying around a few extra pounds, he’s not alone.

According to a 2011 study published by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), more than 50% of cats are either overweight or obese. Just because your cat is in good company, however, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be concerned. Obesity is very dangerous for cats.

Here are some of the risks associated with overweight and obesity in cats:

  • Being overweight or obese increases your cat’s risk of developing disease and can greatly reduce life expectancy. A 2.8-fold increase in mortality can be seen in obese cats in the 8-12 age range.
  • Obesity puts a great deal of strain on your cat’s bones and joints which can increase his risk for osteoarthritis and other joint problems.
  • Being obese greatly increases your cat’s risk of type 2 diabetes (obese cats are 3 times more likely to develop this disease than healthy cats).
  • Overweight and obesity can increase your cat’s blood pressure as well as his risk for develop cardiovascular disease.
  • Excess fat in the chest and abdomen can restrict your cat’s ability to breathe normally – this also reduces his heat and exercise tolerance.
  • Overweight and obese cats have a higher risk for urinary tract disease and bladder stones.
  • Obesity can negatively affect both heart and lung function which makes surgery and other procedures that require anesthesia a greater risk.

If your cat is even a pound or two overweight, it can affect his overall health as well as his lifespan. It is your job as a responsible pet owner to take care of your cat, and that sometimes includes helping him lose weight.

Don’t just cut your cat’s daily portion in half, however. Drastically reducing your cat’s caloric intake could affect his nutrition and it could be just as unhealthy as being overweight. In the next section, we’ll provide some helpful tips for helping your cat lose weight.

7 Ways to Help a Cat Lose Weight

Unfortunately, your cat probably doesn’t know he is overweight and, if he does, he doesn’t care. You can’t just tell your cat he needs to watch what he eats – you need to help him lose weight.

But how do you create a cat weight loss program that actually works?

The key to helping your cat lose weight is a combination of two things – reducing his caloric intake and bumping up his exercise. You want to make sure your cat is still getting enough calories and nutrients to stay healthy, but you want to encourage some healthy activity to burn off the extra weight.

Here are 7 ways to help your cat lose weight:

  1. Choose a high-quality cat food with a lower calorie content than your cat’s current food – this enables you to keep feeding your cat the same volume of food while reducing his caloric intake.
  2. Switch to a cat food with a lower fat percentage – fat is the most highly concentrated source of calories for your cat, so lowering the fat content of his food will reduce calorie content as well.
  3. Increase the amount of wet food or raw food in your cat’s diet – these foods are high in protein and low in carbohydrates which makes them less calorically dense than most carbohydrate-based foods.
  4. Choose a dry cat food that is high in fiber – high-fiber cat foods tend to be more filling, so your cat doesn’t feel hungry despite eating less food.
  5. Switch your cat to a feeding program of smaller, more frequent meals, so he is eating a lower total volume of food per day but doesn’t feel deprived because he’s eating more often.
  6. Plan to reduce your cat’s weight by no more than 3% to 4% per month – rapid weight loss can put your cat at risk for hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, among other health problems.
  7. Increase your cat’s daily activity level with frequent playtime – you can also give him some interactive toys or buy a new cat tree to encourage him to be more active on his own.

Every cat is different, and the best cat weight loss program will vary depending on how much weight your cat needs to lose as well as his age and overall health. If your cat is extremely overweight, you’ll need to view your cat weight loss program as more of a marathon than a sprint – your cat needs to lose weight slowly because rapid weight loss could shock his system and be very dangerous.

Before you start taking steps to help your cat lose weight, you should talk to your veterinarian.

Your vet will be able to tell you just how much weight your cat needs to lose so you can come up with a plan. Part of that plan should include a healthy diet to support his lean muscle mass without going overboard on calories. The best cat food for weight loss in many cases is a high protein low fat cat food.

Keep reading to learn more about what to look for in a cat food for weight loss.

What to Look for in a Cat Food for Weight Loss

Obesity is a common concern in the United States for both pets and people. In fact, obesity is considered the most common preventable disease in cats, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

When it comes to helping a cat lose weight, many pet owners are at a loss for what to do. One thing you can do fairly easily is switch to a cat food designed for weight loss.

Here are some things to look for in a good cat food for weight loss:

  • Complete and nutritionally balanced
  • Rich in high-quality (lean) animal proteins
  • Low-to-moderate healthy fat content
  • Digestible carbohydrates
  • Moderate to high dietary fiber content
  • Beneficial supplements (vitamins, minerals, probiotics)

If these requirements look familiar, there’s a good reason – your cat’s basic nutritional requirements don’t change no matter how much he weighs. He’s still an obligate carnivore, so his diet should be primarily meat-based with limited carbohydrate content.

The main thing that changes between regular cat food and cat food for weight loss is the calorie and fat content as well as the types of ingredients. For example, many weight loss cat foods focus on lean and low-calorie proteins like chicken or fish. A regular cat food might have anywhere from 14 to 18% fat while a cat food for weight loss might be between 10% and 12%.

It is always important to check for high-quality ingredients and digestibility, no matter what kind of cat food you’re buying. When it comes to cat food for weight loss, however, you also need to pay attention to the fat percentage, the calorie content, and the fiber content. Things like low carbohydrate content and the addition of beneficial supplements are always important.

Again, we want to mention the importance of NOT drastically reducing your cat’s food intake. Overweight and obese cats who suddenly stop eating have a high risk for developing hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease which can be very dangerous.

Rather than cutting your cat’s food intake too severely, it is better to help him lose weight slowly by switching to a cat food that supports weight loss. Keep reading to see our top 10 picks for the best cat food for overweight cats.

The Top 10 Best Cat Foods for Weight Loss

Your cat’s nutrition is of the utmost importance, no matter how much he weighs. Your cat will always require a diet that provides a minimum of 26% protein and 9% fat but remember that those are strict minimums. When your cat is overweight, protein becomes even more important while fat and calorie intake should be carefully controlled.

To help your cat lose weight, consider switching to a high protein low fat cat food or a moderate-fat cat food with increased fiber content. Here are some of our top picks for the best cat food for weight loss:

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

Our Top Pick for the Best Weight Loss Cat Food Overall: Even though you are trying to help your cat lose weight, you still need to make sure that his nutritional needs are being met in the healthiest way possible. This Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain-Free Chicken Recipe from Nature’s Variety is an excellent option because it offers premium-quality nutrition but is still a high protein low fat cat food. This formula features fresh chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients with supplemental protein from salmon and menhaden fish meal. It contains a total of 37.5% protein and 12% fat with 5.5% fiber. It also contains probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: 25% less fat 15% fewer calories, concentrated source of animal protein, grain-free carbohydrates, high-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw pieces, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Very expensive to feed as a staple diet

American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Our Top Pick for the Best Affordable Cat Food for Weight Loss: If you’re looking for an affordable cat food option that will help your cat lose weight, this American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free cat food might work well. It is not specifically designed for weight loss, but it contains 40% protein and just 15% fat with less than 400 calories per cup. It features several lean sources of premium animal protein with grain-free, digestible carbohydrates and a minimum of 4% dietary fiber. This cat food is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients as well as added vitamins, chelated minerals, and probiotics.

  • Pros: Affordable price, high in protein with moderate fat, lean sources of animal protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Could be lower in fat and calories, contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Our Top Pick for the Most Popular Cat Food for Weight Loss: The Blue Buffalo brand is one of the most popular brands of cat food on the market because they offer a wide variety of high-quality formulas. This Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe is a great choice if you’re trying to help your cat lose weight. This recipe features lean chicken as the main ingredient with digestible whole-grain carbohydrates for added fiber. It contains 30% protein and 10% fat, with 9% fiber. This recipe also contains fresh fruits and vegetables for a boost of healthy nutrition and beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics.

  • Pros: Designed for weight control and hairball reduction, lean protein as first ingredient, 30% protein and 10% fat, high in fiber at 9%, fresh fruits, and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe, contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care Canned Cat Food

Our Top Pick for the Best Canned Cat Food for Weight Loss: If you are looking for the best low calorie wet cat food, give this Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care Canned Cat Food a try. Unlike many veterinary diets, this formula is made only with healthy, wholesome ingredients like chicken, potatoes, whitefish, and carrots. It provides plenty of protein and fiber with a reduced calorie and fat content. Not only is it designed for weight management, but it also provides urinary support because many overweight and obese cats suffer from urinary tract problems. Simply put, this is one of the best wet cat food for weight loss options you’ll come across, and it is well worth the slightly higher price tag.

  • Pros: Healthy and wholesome ingredients, real chicken as the first ingredient, rich in protein and fiber, low in fat and calories, designed for urinary tract support
  • Cons: Fairly expensive to feed as a staple diet, contains come plant protein (pea protein)

Solid Gold Fit as a Fiddle Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food

Our Top Pick for the Best Grain-Free Cat Food for Weight Loss: If you prefer to feed your cat grain-free food, this Solid Gold Fit as a Fiddle Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food is a great option. It is designed for weight control but is still loaded with healthy, high-quality ingredients like fresh Alaskan pollock, chickpeas, turkey, and chicken. This formula is grain-free to reduce the risk of food allergies and supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients. It contains a full 30% protein and just 8% to 10% fat and 9% fiber.

  • Pros: Holistic recipe made with grain-free ingredients, weight control, high in protein and fiber, low in fat and calories, fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotics
  • Cons: Some cats may be sensitive to chicken ingredients, no chelated minerals

Natural Balance LID Indoor Grain-Free Turkey & Chickpea Formula

Our Top Pick for the Best Weight Loss Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach: If your cat suffers from food allergies or sensitive stomach, you may want to look for a grain-free recipe made with a limited number of main ingredients. This Natural Balance LID Indoor Grain-Free Turkey & Chickpea formula is a great option because it is made with just 8 main ingredients and it is grain-free. This formula contains 30% protein and 8% to 10% fat with a full 8% fiber and only 336 calories per cup. It contains plenty of lean animal-based protein, digestible carbohydrates, and supplemental fiber as well as beneficial supplements like chelated minerals.

  • Pros: Limited number of main ingredients, lean protein sources, high in protein low in fat, grain-free carbohydrates, supplemental fiber, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

4 More Top-Rated Cat Foods for Weight Loss

The weight loss cat foods reviewed above are some of our top picks, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other options out there! If you’re not convinced that one of the six brands reviewed above is the right fit for your cat, here are four more options to consider:

Chicken Soup for the Soul Weight & Mature Care Recipe

If you’re looking for the best canned cat food for weight loss, this Chicken Soup for the Soul Weight & Mature Care Recipe is another great option. Made with several lean sources of protein including chicken, salmon, turkey, and ocean fish, this recipe is a healthy way to help your overweight cat or less active adult cat drop some weight. It is still nutritionally balanced and made with high-quality ingredients, but it is lower in calories and supplemented with extra fiber.

  • Pros: Several lean sources of animal protein, whole-grain carbohydrates, fresh fruits, and vegetables, rich in protein and fiber, low in fat and calories
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe, not supplemented with probiotics

Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Grain-Free Healthy Weight Indoor Recipe

To ensure that your cat gets the highest quality nutrition while still losing weight, consider this Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Grain-Free Healthy Weight Indoor Recipe. This recipe features a holistic formula made with premium proteins like salmon and whitefish as well as digestible grain-free carbohydrates and supplemental sources of fiber. It contains dried fruits and vegetables for a boost of healthy nutrition as well as beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics. Overall, it provides 32% protein and 5% fiber at under 400 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Holistic natural recipe, premium animal proteins, grain-free carbohydrates, supplemental fiber, dried fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals and probiotics
  • Cons: Could be lower in fat content, contains some soy protein

Natural Balance Fat Cats Formula

If you’re looking for a cat food formula designed specifically for weight loss, this Natural Balance Fat Cats Formula might be a good option. This recipe features chicken meal as the first ingredient which is a lean but concentrated source of protein. It contains high-fiber ingredients like garbanzo beans, peas, and oats to keep your cat feeling full without going overboard on calories. This recipe contains 35% protein and just 9.5% fat, so it meets your cat’s minimum requirements for complete and balanced nutrition.

  • Pros: High in protein and low in fat, concentrated source of animal protein, high-fiber ingredients, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, no artificial additives
  • Cons: May be too high in fiber for some cats, not a grain-free recipe, contains some plant protein (pea protein)

NomNomNow Fresh Food Delivery

Though not specifically designed for weight loss, NomNomNow is a fresh pet food delivery service that enables you to create a custom diet for your cat. When you sign up, you create an online profile that includes your cat’s weight – you can chat with the professionals at NomNomNow about the options for reducing your cat’s fat and calorie intake. Generally speaking, however, these diets are high in protein with moderate fat content and low carbohydrate content, so they are a great choice for any cat.

  • Pros: Fresh food delivered to your door, high-protein diets, two protein choices, customized to your cat’s calorie needs, low in carbohydrates
  • Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet, only two recipes to choose from

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you put a cat on a diet?

If you want to lose weight, you probably eat less. Unfortunately, putting a cat on a diet is not quite that simple. If you drastically reduce the amount of food you’re feeding an obese cat, you put him at risk for developing a dangerous liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. The best way to put a cat on a diet is to switch to a cat food with less fat and calories or to slowly reduce the amount you feed the cat.

How much should you feed your cat for weight loss?

There are two ways to determine how much to feed a cat for weight loss. The first way is to switch your cat to a reduced calorie food and continue feeding him roughly the same volume of food you were feeding him before. By reducing the calorie content of your cat’s food instead of the volume, he’ll still feel satisfied, but his total daily calorie intake will be lower.

The second way to decide how much to feed a cat for weight loss is to look at the feeding recommendations on your current cat food and see how much the package recommends for your cat’s goal weight then feed that amount. If your cat needs to lose more than 3% of his body weight, however, you may want to start scaling back his daily portion slowly.

How many times a day should you feed your cat?

Generally speaking, most cats do well with two meals a day. If you are trying to help your cat lose weight, however, you might try feeding him a lower volume of food each day but space it out across several small meals instead of just two per day.

How can you get your overweight cat to exercise more?

Increasing your cat’s activity is a great way to encourage healthy weight loss. One way to get your cat to exercise more is to start feeding him using an interactive toy or feeding mat – the added benefit of these toys is the mental stimulation your cat gets from them. You can also just take it upon yourself to play with your cat more often using a laser pointer, ribbon, or other toys that your cat will want to chase.

How long does it take for a cat to lose weight?

There is no easy answer to this question because it depends on your cat’s age, current weight, and activity level – it also depends on how much he has to lose. For most cats, however, healthy weight loss occurs over a period of 6 to 8 months.

There’s just something about a big, roly-poly cat that is absolutely adorable. What you need to remember, however, is that obesity is not healthy in anyone – your cat included.

Unfortunately, many pet owners who let their pets become overweight or obese don’t realize how dangerous it is. For a cat whose healthy weight range is only about 10 to 12 pounds, a gain of even a single pound can be unhealthy and extra weight can shorten your cat’s lifespan.

If you’re serious about keeping your cat around for as long as possible, be a responsible pet owner and help your cat maintain a healthy body weight. For cats who need to lose weight, try one of the best cat foods for weight loss reviewed above or ask your veterinarian for suggestions.

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