The blog post below is meant to offer some tips and tricks on how to get your overweight or obese cat to lose some of that stubborn fat - we hope you find it useful.
We’ll try to keep things short and sweet with our top five tips while also making it as practical as possible. Let's get started:
Tip 1: Consider removing dry diets, including air-dried diets
It’s worth considering feeding canned diets instead of dried diets.
Canned diets have a high water content and are therefore not very energy-dense, typically having 0.8 to 1.2 kcal per gram. What this means is that you can feed a larger volume of canned food per day, compared with a dry diet, and this can help to reduce begging.
A study by Wei et al. showed that a diet with a higher water content decreased voluntary energy intake and body weight in cats. So, the impact of water content on energy density and food consumption may help promote weight loss in cats.
Let’s look at a quick example to try and illustrate this concept. In the two bowls in the photo below, we have two different diets – the one on the left is Ziwi Peak Provenance Series East Cape air-dried diet, and the one on the right is Royal Canin Satiety wet diet.
The interesting thing is that both of these bowls provide the same calories – 200 kcal, which is about right for a healthy 4 kg adult cat. So, you can see, if you feed your cat the wet diet, he or she gets to eat a lot more per day!
Tip 2: If you do want to feed a dry diet, consider using a puzzle feeder
There are a few options available – here is a nice example of one designed by Nina Ottosson.
Below are some links to puzzle feeders that you can purchase online:
Slow-feeder bowls are also useful to prolong mealtime and reduce begging. For canned diets, make sure you pick a slow-feeder bowl that’s suited to that diet type (like the one on the right here) because many slow-feeder bowls are more suited to dry diets.
This bowl can be purchased online from:
If you do want to feed a dry diet, think about using a therapeutic weight loss diet. These diets are high in protein and fibre, which will help to promote satiety and maintain muscle mass during weight loss.
Some examples of widely available commercial therapeutic weight loss diets for cats include the following:
Hill's Prescription Diet Metabolic dry food for cats
Royal Canin Satiety Weight Management dry food for cats
Tip 3: Buy a digital scale to monitor body weight weekly
For cats, the best way to monitor body weight throughout life is to buy a digital baby scale.
Below is a link to a digital baby scale that can be purchased online or in-store from Kmart:
When it comes to a weight loss plan, a reasonable goal to try to achieve is weight loss of around 1-2% body weight per week.
A digital baby scale can help you monitor this goal and figure out if you’re meeting the target or if, perhaps, as you suspected, you might have still been giving too many of those sneaky treats.
A digital baby scale can also help with monitoring for inappropriate weight loss as your cat ages.
Tip 4: If your cat doesn’t lose 1-2% of their body weight per week, reduce their food by 10% and re-check their weight a week later
Successful weight loss is almost always due to careful follow-up and monitoring. It is worth remembering that any degree of weight loss will improve your cat’s comfort and quality of life.
Tip 5: Don’t feed treats, or if you must – feed only high-moisture, low-fat treats
Examples of these include small pieces of cooked skinless and boneless turkey or chicken breast.
Avoid air-dried or freeze-dried treats as they are too energy-dense, and even a small amount will add a lot of calories to the diet.
Remember that treats should make up no more than 10% of daily calories.
For an average-sized cat weighing around 5 kg, with an estimated maintenance energy requirement of approximately 280 kcal, 10% of his daily calories (or 28 kcal) equates to the following:
20 of the Feline Greenies Dental Treats
Getting your cat to lose weight is no easy task and takes a bucket load of commitment from you as a pet parent. Stick with it! Hopefully, some of the tips above can help your furry friend slim down. And if you're looking for some help with formulating a home-prepared weight loss diet for your overweight cat, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us - we'd love to help!