help your cat lose weight

Some of the most effective things you can do to help your cat lose weight are change their diet and get them to exercise more. Diet is the most important factor in weight loss for cats, including how much and what they eat. It’s also the easiest and most measurable thing you can change. Aside from that, increasing exercise will help shed pounds as well. If some of these simpler measures don’t work, talking to your vet will offer other options you may not have available at home.

Read more on how to tell if your cat is overweight if you’re not sure.

1. Calorie Restriction

The best way to help your cat lose weight is through diet changes. The number one cause of obesity in cats is eating too much and eating the wrong things.

Changing over to a restricted diet is going to be most effective in helping your cat lose weight. Measure out dry food with a measuring cup and wet food by can portions. It doesn’t matter how many times you feed your cat each day; the overall amount is more important. You’ll have to get used to ignoring your cat’s cries for more food to be successful with this. You may consider getting an automatic feeder that serves out pre-measured portions to reduce the amount of work you have to do.

Here is a wet food feeding chart to help gauge how much to feed your cat each day. Determining how much food to feed your cat every day will make calorie restriction easier.

Finally, trial and error will work best as you move forward. If you notice your cat losing weight over time, keep up the diet. However, if their weight is sustaining or gaining, remove a little food from the daily amount. There’s no need to make drastic or frequent changes. Keep the long run in mind and know that it might take a while for your cat to start losing weight.

2. Food Choice Changes

Changing what you feed your cat will also help them lose weight. As a rule canned food is better than dry food. Canned food contains less sugar and carbohydrates and more protein and fiber, helping your cat digest it more slowly and use, rather than store, the calories.

Also, because dry food is higher in sugar, it increases your cat’s cravings for it throughout the day, causing them to eat more. Excessive dry food consumption can also lead to dehydration, which can cause a whole host of other issues.

Making your own cat food at home is not only much healthier for your cat, but it can also save you money. We’ve created the ultimate guide to making your own cat food to make it easier to get started.

Commercial cat treats have the highest calories, so we recommend making your own at home as an easy, healthier alternative.

If you have the time and money, a raw food diet might also help your cat lose weight. There are certain pros and cons associated, like higher protein and nutrient content vs. higher cost. So it might be worth a try, but it’s up to you in the end.

3. Exercise

Boredom is the leading reason cats don’t exercise enough. We’ve created an article on ways to banish boredom addressing just this. If your cat doesn’t have enough exciting things to do, of course they’ll just lie around and sleep all day.

Make sure to provide plenty of cat toys, scratching posts and a cat tree. Catnip is a sure way to get your cat all wound up. Enticing your cat with the classic feather on a stick toy is always a sure success. Some products are even motion or button activated and will play with your cat while you’re busy doing other things.

Getting your cat moving more often is an important step in helping your cat lose weight.

help your cat lose weight

4. Use Puzzle Feeders

Puzzle feeders will help your cat lose weight for two reasons. One, they help your cat eat more slowly because it’s difficult to get the food out quickly. Two, they make your cat expend more energy getting the food out. It’s diet and exercise all rolled into one!

You can find plenty of puzzle feeders on the market, or you can create your own. Here are some ideas for DIY puzzle feeders:

  • Paper bags: put catnip, treats or food inside a paper bag. Your cat can explore, pounce, and kill (destroy the bag). It’s a great hiding space and a fun toy all at the same time.
  • Paper towel roll inners: cut a paper towel roll in half, fold in the ends and cut a few small to large holes. You can then place catnip, treats or food inside. As your cat begins to use these more, cut smaller holes to make it more of a challenge.
  • Water bottles: Take empty water bottles, remove the wrapper, cut a few small to large holes and add some treats. You can leave the lid on or off for increasing difficulty for this DIY puzzle toy·      

5. Consider Any Medical Conditions

Your cat’s weight gain might be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as a thyroid issue or a general metabolic issue. If this is the case, it will be harder to help your cat lose weight on their own. You’ll need to consult a vet on the best course of action here.

6. Consult a Vet

If the tips above do not work in helping your cat lose weight, it’s time to consult a vet. A vet’s advice should always come before any other advice you get on helping your cat lose weight. They can prescribe medication or a special diet to help your cat lose weight. A vet will also be able to take other measures of your cat like blood or urine tests that will give more information.

7. Record Progress

Helping your cat lose weight can take months to accomplish. This is why it’s important to record your cat’s weight weekly to assess whether the changes you’re making are working. If your cat is obese, they should be losing 0.5 to 1lb per month. If weight loss is less than this, try restricting more food or providing more wet food. If weight loss is more than the recommended amount, bump up food portions. Losing weight too fast is unhealthy in its own way and can cause malnourishment and other issues.

help your cat lose weight

Dangers of Obesity in Cats

So what will happen if you can’t help your cat lose weight? Well, the dangers of obesity in cats is well known and to be taken very seriously. Here are just a few:

  • Arthritis.
  • Urinary disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic inflammation 
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased immune function
  • Constipation and flatulence
  • Skin infections
  • Some cancers have even been associated with obesity

Combining several of these diseases can lead to lower quality of life and early death. Therefore, helping your cat lose weight is one of the best things you can do for them.

FAQs: Help Your Cat Lose Weight

How do I get my indoor cat to lose weight?

One of the most important steps in helping an indoor cat lose weight is to ensure that they are getting the right amount of exercise. Even if your cat lives indoors, there are still plenty of ways to keep them active. For example, you can buy them a tall scratching post or a few interactive toys to keep them entertained. Additionally, if you have a yard, you can let them outside for short periods of time as long as it is in a safe and enclosed area.

Another great way to help your indoor cat lose weight is to adjust their diet. Speak to your veterinarian about what type of food would be best for your cat’s weight loss. Additionally, consider switching from dry kibble to wet food as it contains more moisture and can help keep your cat hydrated. Lastly, be sure to measure out their food portions and stick to a regular feeding schedule. This will help prevent overfeeding and ensure that your cat is getting the right amount of calories in their diet.

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

When it comes to weight loss, every cat’s experience is unique. Factors such as age, overall health, activity level, and diet all play a role in how quickly a cat can lose weight. Generally speaking, most cats can safely lose about 1-2% of their body weight per week. This means that for a cat that weighs 10lbs, they can safely lose 0.1-0.2lbs per week.

It’s important to remember that a cat’s metabolism can slow down as they age, and this can affect the rate of weight loss. If a cat is over the age of 10, it may be best to aim for a slightly slower rate of weight loss (about 0.5% of their body weight per week). Additionally, any cat with underlying health issues should be monitored closely by a veterinarian, as their diet and activity should be tailored to their individual needs.

What can I feed my cat to lose weight?

When it comes to diet and weight loss, the key is to feed your cat a healthy, balanced diet. Specifically, look for cat food with a higher protein content, as this will help your cat stay fuller for longer, and reduce the amount of calories they consume overall. A high-quality, low-calorie diet rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants will also help your cat maintain their ideal body weight.

How much should I feed my overweight cat?

If you have an overweight cat, it is important to adjust their diet accordingly. While cats need a certain amount of calories each day, cats that are overweight should have their caloric intake reduced. Talk to your veterinarian to get an idea of how much your cat should be eating. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to feed your cat 25-35 calories per pound of body weight per day.

It is also important to choose a high quality, low-calorie food for your cat. Check the label of the food you are buying to make sure it is appropriate for your cat’s weight. You may also want to look for a food that is higher in fiber, as this can help your cat feel full and satisfied on fewer calories.

Finally, portion control is key. Measure out the amount of food your cat should eat each day and stick to it. Avoid giving your cat snacks or treats, as these can quickly add up and cause your cat to gain weight. If you do give your cat treats, make sure they are healthy and low in calories.

Is wet food better for overweight cats?

When it comes to managing an overweight cat’s diet, wet food is often the first choice for many cat owners. Wet food can help to reduce a cat’s calorie intake and provide a more nutrient-dense food than dry food. It is also easier to regulate the amount of food your pet consumes, as wet food can be measured more accurately than dry food.

Wet food is also much higher in moisture content than dry food, which can help to keep your cat hydrated. This is especially important, as obese cats often don’t drink enough water. The higher moisture content of wet food also helps to keep cats feeling full for longer, which can help them avoid overeating.

Why do indoor cats get so fat?

Indoor cats are particularly prone to becoming overweight due to their lack of exercise. When cats are kept indoors, they are not getting the same level of physical activity as an outdoor cat would. This means that they are not burning off the same amount of calories as an outdoor cat, leading to an increase in weight.

Another factor that can contribute to an indoor cat becoming overweight is their diet. Many owners tend to overfeed their cats, giving them too much food or too many treats. This can lead to an increase in weight, as the cat is taking in more calories than it is burning off.

Finally, some cats have a genetic predisposition to becoming overweight, meaning that even if they are given the correct amount of food and exercise, they may still gain weight. If your cat has a genetic predisposition to weight gain, it is important to try to control their diet and exercise as much as possible.