Regardless of their current weight, your cat is at their best when they eat like a lean, trim carnivore. The best cat food for overweight cats is rich in high-quality protein without too much fat or starch.
That’s why we recommend Smalls Fresh Ground Bird as the overall best cat food for overweight cats. It’s high in protein, low in carbohydrates, moisture-rich, satisfying, and doesn’t have too much fat or starch, both of which can contribute to weight gain in adult cats.
If you want to make weight loss as easy as possible, Smalls is an outstanding option. But it’s not for everyone. To help you find a product that works for you, we’ve chosen 8 great foods for cats that need to lose weight.
At a Glance: Best Cat Foods for Overweight Cats To Buy
- Chicken is the sole source of animal protein
- Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
- Affordably priced
- Formulated for indoor cats and low in calories
- Made primarily from highly digestible animal protein
- Most cats enjoy the flavor
- Primarily made from animal protein
- Very low in calories
- Hydrating food helps to keep your cat satisfied
- Packed with protein, real chicken first ingredient
- Rich in moisture, highly digestible
- Contains fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids
Top Picks Explained
Here’s How To Pick the Best Cat Food for Overweight Cats
The ideal weight loss diet has high protein content with moderate fat levels and minimal carbohydrates.
In general, if your cat is overweight, they might have been eating the wrong food for a long time. For overweight cats, just switching to a species-appropriate diet is often enough to make a difference. This type of diet helps to prevent obesity, and the transition alone may be enough to help your cat shed some extra pounds.
A species-appropriate diet mimics the nutritional content of your cat’s prey.
It’s rich in the right amino acids, contains low to moderate levels of animal-derived fat, and has little to no starch. This macronutrient distribution is at the heart of every good cat food. It helps cats maintain lean muscle mass, achieve appropriate blood sugar levels, and experience overall well-being.
Wet Cat Food Is Ideal for Weight Control
Most overweight or obese cats live on dry cat food, which leaves them under-stimulated, over-sugared, and at risk for serious health conditions.
In contrast to kibble, high-moisture cat food is bulkier and will help your cat feel full for longer, even if they are eating fewer calories. Think of it as a bowl of grapes versus a handful of raisins. You’ll get fewer calories in the bowl of grapes, but it feels more substantial and will leave you full for longer.
The switch to wet food might be a challenge, especially if your cat has eaten kibble since they were a kitten. But in the long run, it’s the best option to support your cat’s healthy body weight.
Free Feeding Is Out for Overweight Cats
Allowing your cat to freely nibble from a full bowl of food might seem to be the kindest choice, but few things could be less natural for a cat. Cats naturally eat multiple small meals throughout the day, fasting between each successful hunt.
In addition to discouraging your cat from gorging, feeding multiple meals during the day will allow you to closely monitor your cat’s calorie intake.
You Are Not Limited to Diets Marketed for Weight Management
Most indoor-specific recipes and diet cat foods follow a similar blueprint. They decrease the protein and fat while bumping up levels of carbohydrates and fiber. Foods with high carb and fiber content promise to keep your cat satisfied on roughage alone, but they fail to honor your cat’s needs as an obligate carnivore.
As a bright spot, these diets are formulated to meet your cat’s minimal nutritional requirements with fewer calories. Also, some of these diets have a high protein content with minimal carbohydrates.
However, given the blueprint mentioned above, weight loss diets for cats are generally engineered for disappointment.
By restricting protein intake, these diets might cause muscle loss.
Secondly, because cats are obligate carnivores, they’re hardwired to feel satisfied by protein and fat—not carbohydrates or fiber. This means that while these diets are low-calorie, they’re not as satisfying as diets that are rich in the protein and fat that your cat instinctively craves.
To help your cat lose weight while maintaining healthy muscle mass, put their carnivorous needs first. From their claws to their metabolism, your cat’s body is optimized to hunt and eat animals. That doesn’t change if the cat is overweight, obese, or underweight.
Why Trust Cats.com
We’ve reviewed more than 212 different cat food brands, including most of the biggest brands on the planet. We’ve read customer reviews, spoken with market insiders, and tested foods hands-on.
Based on that research, we’re bringing you an updated list of the best cat food brands and products in the industry. The following foods earn their place with outstanding ingredient quality, nutritional merits, and safety records.
In addition to performing our own qualitative analysis of the brands reviewed here, we submitted samples for analysis at an ISO 17025 certified food testing and analysis lab.
We bought the products at full retail price, and the entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct input or influence from the companies involved.
Analytical testing in a food chemistry lab gives us the exact macronutrient and micronutrient content of each recipe. The tests also look at microbial content, yeast, mold, and heavy metals, helping you ensure that you’re only putting the best in your cat’s bowl.
Top 8 Best Cat Foods for Overweight Cats
All our top picks are meat-rich foods that emphasize animal ingredients over anything else. They’re protein-packed, made from relatively high-value ingredients, and promise to keep your cat satiated without loading them up on unnecessary calories.
What to Consider: Feeding Recommendations To Help Overweight Cats Lose Weight
“My vet is recommending a therapeutic diet. Does my cat really need a special food?”
Not necessarily. Prescription diets from brands like Royal Canin, Purina, and Hill’s Science Diet offer weight-loss diets. These low-fat foods might be lower in calories than the average cat food, but prescription weight-loss diets make heavy use of carbohydrates and non-nutritive fillers your cat might be better off without.
Simply put, it’s possible to choose a high-quality cat food and promote weight loss by reducing your cat’s daily portion and increasing their activity level.
Your cat should lose weight at a slow, steady rate of about 1 to 2% of their current weight each week. For example, if your cat currently weighs 25 pounds, they should lose between 4 and 8 ounces during their first week of dieting.
You probably won’t notice such a small rate of weight loss from week to week. But slow and steady weight loss is preferable to rapid weight loss. Your cat is more likely to maintain the weight loss if it is done gradually, and losing weight too quickly can create its own health consequences.
The 80% Technique
Assuming your cat is currently maintaining an unhealthy body weight, determine the number of calories they eat now and gradually cut back to 60 to 80% of that amount.
If you don’t know how much your cat presently eats, consult with your vet or try one of the other two methods.
The Crystal Ball Method
The following formula will give you an estimate of your cat’s maintenance calorie intake at an ideal weight. The variable “W” represents your cat’s weight in pounds.
(13.6 x W) + 70 = Calories required to maintain your cat’s ideal weight
If your cat’s ideal weight is 11 pounds, then their maintenance intake will be roughly 220 calories per day. When your cat is eating for a slimmer body, they are living with a calorie deficit. This encourages gradual weight loss until your cat reaches their goal weight.
Remember that a highly satisfying, moisture-rich, high-protein pet food will help you out here.
Keep this in mind, though: Cutting calories with your cat’s current diet could also reduce their nutrient intake. Your cat’s weight loss should be not come at the expense of their nutritional needs.
Your vet will be able to provide you with the most accurate calorie counts that your cat will need to achieve a healthy weight.
With the Right Food and a Solid Strategy, You Can Help Your Cat Reach a Healthy Weight
Weight loss isn’t an arcane pursuit. Once you’ve established a strong strategy and chosen a nutritious diet, your biggest challenge is to stay disciplined and consistent.
When changing your cat’s diet make the transition slowly, feeding both their old food and the new food. Over the course of a week or two, gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food until there are eating only the new food.
If you’re trying to convert your cat from dry food to wet cat food, sure your cat is eating the new food. Cats can develop very strict food preferences depending on what they were exposed to early in life, and it can be difficult for some cats to switch to eating a different type of food later in life.
Give it a good try, but make sure your cat is eating the new food. Cats can become very sick if they don’t eat enough, and your cat is not going to benefit from the good nutrition of a food they won’t eat.
Track your cat’s weight loss from week to week. Also, talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s weight loss. If your cat’s weight has plateaued, your vet might recommend trying a different food or adding in extra exercise to stimulate weight loss.
Regarding exercise, physical activity is a critical component of weight loss. In combination with fewer calories from the new diet, physical activity will help increase your cat’s metabolism, helping your cat burn more calories.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best cat food for losing weight?
The best cat food for weight loss isn’t necessarily a prescription diet or a diet labeled for weight loss. In fact, you can help your cat lose weight on just about any food as long as it is nutritionally balanced and you control the portions. If you’re looking for best cat food for weight loss, we recommend a high-protein, low-carbohydrate wet food with moderate fat and calorie content.
How do I get my indoor cat to lose weight?
Indoor cats tend to be less active than outdoor cats, so cat owners might need to be more proactive when it comes to helping indoor cats lose weight. The first step is to choose a diet that supports your cat’s weight loss and determine the appropriate number of calories per day. On top of adjusting your cat’s diet, also make an effort to increase your cat’s activity level with daily play sessions.
Is wet or dry cat food better for weight loss?
You can help your cat lose weight using either dry food or wet food. However, wet food tends to be the better option because it is higher in protein and moisture, which make it more satisfying for your cat – you can feed less without your cat feeling deprived. Wet food also tends to be higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates, which can also support healthy weight loss.