Weight Loss

Most inside cats are at least slightly overweight.  Severely overweight cats, however, are predisposed to a lot of the same issues as severely overweight humans, such as skin problems, due to not being able to groom themselves properly; diabetes; orthopedic problems; and hepatic lipidosis.  The good news is that it's not that difficult to get cats to lose weight.  What they eat is wholly dependent on what we feed them.


Cats are true carnivores.  They consume animal flesh to meet their nutritional needs because they are unable to synthesize the necessary amino acids from other food sources.  Most dry foods bear little resemblance to the diet of a carnivore due to the high carbohydrate content. 

Diets that are high in carbohydrates can lead to obesity because cats lack the ability to process carbohydrates.  They cannot taste sweetness and do not have many of the enzymes required to adequately digest carbohydrates.  Furthermore, if the carbohydrates are not utilized as energy, they are stored as fat.  An appropriate feline diet should contain less than 10% carbohydrates.  Please note that just because a diet is grain free, does not mean it is carb free.

Diets greater than 45% protein are not only healthier for cats, but also promote weight loss.  Studies have shown that cats on high protein diets are able to lose weight faster and preserve muscle mass. 

In the past, increased fiber was thought to aid in weight loss, but new evidence indicates that fiber slows protein availability.  High fiber diets are no longer recommended for weight loss.

Almost all dry foods are low in protein and high in carbohydrates.  Most canned foods are more effective for weight loss due to the high protein to carbohydrate ratio. Please note that the moisture content in canned foods will throw off the percentage of ingredients on the guaranteed analysis located on the label.  Go to https://catinfo.org/docs/CatFoodProteinFatCarbPhosphorusChart.pdf for accurate percentages.

Counting calories for your cat is essential for weight loss.  Free choice feeding is not effective, because cats typically overeat when they have a constant supply of food.  You should be able to find kcal/can on the label of the canned food, or online.   An average adult cat should be feed no more than 160 to 200 kcal (or calories) per day, divided into 2 to 4 feedings.  For example one 5.5 oz can of Beef and Chicken Wellness canned food contains 193 kcal/can. Therefore, you could easily feed 1 can per day divided into fourths. 

In the wild, cats tend to eat 10 to 20 meals per day, therefore it is preferable to feed small frequent meals.  Cats on a diet should lose 2 to 4% of their weight per month. Therefore, a 10 LB cat should lose about 0.2 to 0.4 LBS per month. If this weight loss is not achieved after a month, decrease the diet by 5 to 10%. If your cat is losing too much weight, increase the amount you feed. Your cat should be weighed every 2 to 4 weeks until he or she reaches the target weight.


Exercise is important because play and activity are essential components of a healthy feline lifestyle and are necessary for indoor cats to increase their muscle mass and reduce the risk of obesity.  Cats that are unable to engage in outdoor hunting and play behavior need other opportunities to fulfill their physiologic needs for climbing, balancing, scratching, and exercising. See our environmental enrichment handout online at citycatmobilevet.com/resources.

Food Puzzles:

Food puzzles provide entertainment and also slow food consumption.  Learn more at http://foodpuzzlesforcats.com

Automatic Feeders:

An automatic feeder can be helpful for cats that want to be feed throughout the night or very early in the morning.  Place 1-2 kibble or freeze dried chicken treats in the feeder, set it to go off 3-4 times a night, and place the feeder far away from your sleeping area.  The horizontal pie shaped feeders such as the one pictured to the right, are recommend because upright feeders dispense too large of a portion. 

The following contraptions allow one cat to access the food bowl for multi-cat households.

Meowspace http://www.meowspace.BIZ

Sureflap https://sureflap.com/en-us/pet-feeder/microchip-pet-feeder