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What’s the best cat food for weight loss in 2020?

There are a lot of overweight and obese cats out there. It’s a common problem, but it’s a big one. Overweight cats have lots of health problems, and they’re just not as happy as they could be if they were lighter.

The best cat food for weight loss can really help your cat shed some pounds. So let’s have a look!

Best cat food for weight loss

Best wet food – Royal Canin Ultra Light Thin Slices

Pros

  • Very high in protein
  • Low in fat
  • Low carbs
  • Low environmental impact ingredients
  • Mainly animal source ingredients

Cons

  • Some grains – not suitable for grain intolerant cats

Royal Canin is a long established brand, with origins in Europe. It is manufactured around the world, and has manufacturing plants in the USA. The majority of food sold in the USA is produced within the USA.

Royal Canin is often prescribed by veterinarians. It has a strong pedigree for producing food for specific life-stages and conditions.

This recipe represents exactly what we’re looking for in a weight loss food. It has high protein, low fat and it’s got added fibre. It’s also low in carbs to prevent upset tummies.

We’ve got no hesitation to say this is the best weight loss food around. It’s got great nutrition and cats seem to love the taste.

Check out the price here.

Best dry food – Nulo Freestyle Salmon and Lentils Grain-Free adult trim

Pros

  • High protein
  • Top 4 ingredients animal sources
  • Nutrient dense ingredients
  • Lower environmental impact
  • Animal source of fat

Cons

  • Moderately high carbs
  • Kibbled foods are more energy dense than wet foods so it’s easier to eat more
  • Higher in fat than some competitors

Nulo combines the words “new” and “love” to form their company name. They aim to produce high protein, grain free recipes that your cat will love. Their recipes are designed to contain more of the ingredients your cat would eat in the wild. Nulo cat foods are made in the USA with no artificial ingredients.

Nulo is one of our favourite brands for cat food in general. This recipe takes all the good things about Nulo, adds fibre and removes fat.

This is a great quality food with a lower environmental impact than its competitors. This food has more carbs than wet food alternatives, but we think this is the best dry food for weight loss you can buy for your cat.

Check the price here!

Best budget option – Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Weight Management

Pros

  • Very high in protein
  • 3 of main ingredients animal sources
  • Lower environmental impact
  • Low fat
  • Low carbs

Cons

  • Contains artificial flavours
  • Some protein from plant sources

Purina is one of the biggest names in pet foods. The company is well over 100 years old, though they’ve been making cat food since 1963. Purina’s foods are manufactured in the USA and Canada. Ingredients are usually sourced locally, but some are imported.

For a budget food, this recipe has exceptional quality nutrition. It’s high in protein and fibre, low in fat and carbs. This makes it an ideal choice for a weight loss food.

The ingredients aren’t as high quality as the more premium products on this list. There are more plant ingredients and less animal ingredients.

But, don’t let that put you off, ingredients aren’t as important as nutrients. This food has a perfect balance of nutrients.

This food is fantastic value, check it out here!

Best raw food – Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain-Free

Pros

  • Very high quality ingredients
  • Mainly animal source ingredients
  • Low environmental impact ingredients
  • No artificial flavours

Cons

  • High in carbs
  • Higher in fat than ideal
  • Is partly raw

This food is made in the USA using premium ingredients. It is mainly animal sourced ingredients, and the main ingredient is cage-free chicken. The ingredients are nutrient dense and environmentally friendly.

This food has very high quality ingredients and no artificial flavours.

The main reservation we have about it is the fact that it is partially raw. You can read more about that here.

Feeding raw food is controversial. There can be significant downsides to it, including the potential for catching bacterial infections from it. This food is freeze-dried which reduces the risk of bacterial infection, but it may not be suitable for everyone.

The carb and fat levels are higher than what we’d ideally like. This, combined with the raw content of the food keeps it off our top spot.

But, if you’re looking for raw food for your cat, this is the way to go. 

Have a look here!

Honorable mention – Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets OM

Pros

  • High protein content
  • Low fat content
  • Low carbs
  • Low environmental impact
  • Mainly animal protein source

Cons

  • Contains artificial flavours
  • Some protein comes from gluten
  • More expensive that others

As with the other Purina food above, this is a great quality food. It’s nutritional levels are ideal and the ingredients are high quality.

This is a great quality food, but the cost keeps it off our top spot. The other Purina weight loss food is almost as good nutritionally, but is much cheaper.

So, this is a great quality food, but it’s not as good value as Purina’s Pro Plan Focus food.

Check the price here.

Best cat food for weight loss buyer’s guide

What makes a good weightloss food?

The idea behind weight loss foods is that they make cats feel fuller and eat less calories. There are a number of ways that they do it, but the main way is tweaking the nutrient ratio of the food.

The best weight loss foods for cats are high in protein and fibre, low in carbs and fat. This makes them low in calories.

To get sustainable weight loss a food needs to encourage development of lean muscle and a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit means eating fewer calories than are burned off.

Nutrients

The most important thing about any cat food is the nutrients it contains. Ingredients can vary, but the nutrients must be there. The four most important nutrients to consider when choosing weight loss food are protein, fat, carbohydrates and fibre.

Protein is a key part of a cat’s diet and is required for all aspects of health. A protein level of 40% is needed to maintain muscle mass. 

Lean muscle leads to a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is a measure of how many calories a cat (or person) burns just by sitting still. So, having more muscle means your cat can burn more calories without doing more exercise.

The hidden downside of foods high in protein is that they encourage cats to eat more. This is largely because cats really like the taste of protein. So, foods high in protein are tasty and cats love them. High protein is good for muscle formation too, but we also need to think about the other nutrients.

Fat helps to make foods more tasty, and stops your cat refusing to eat or going looking for something else instead! Unfortunately fat is very energy dense. This means that foods high in fat are high in calories too. This is the opposite of what we want!

Some fat is essential in any diet for cats. Fats are needed for skin, coat and brain health. Healthy fats are rich in omega 3 and 6. It is essential that your cat eats a source of animal fat. 

Carbohydrates in cat food are quite controversial. Cats are not good at eating large amounts of carbohydrates because they struggle to absorb them. Too many carbs can cause an upset tummy.

A cat sits next to corn

Lastly, we come to the secret weapon in weight loss…

Fibre!

Fibre has no calories at all and reduces total calorie intake. Foods high in fibre take up space in a cat’s stomach which helps them to feel fuller from fewer calories. It is also thought that foods high in fibre help weight loss because they look like a bigger portion in the bowl! Fibre is also essential for digestive health.

A weight loss food for cats should be high in fibre to give our cats all these benefits.

Ingredients

We also need to consider the ingredients of food when we want to choose the best one.

Unfortunately, this is where things get complicated and controversial!

Manufacturers of foods list their ingredients in order of weight. So the things that appear at the start of the list are the things that weigh the most. This can mean that food with lots of water but not much nutrients appear high on the list.

To the untrained eye, ingredient lists can look much better (or worse) than they really are.

For example, “chicken breast” has lots of water in it, whereas “chicken meal” is quite dry. Per ounce, chicken meal has much more protein than chicken breast (even if it doesn’t sound as tasty).

Ingredients like “meat meal” and “meat digest” are by-products. They might not sound like a good thing but by-products are not a bad thing.

By-products are often very nutritious and tasty for cats. Always remember, you are choosing a food for your cat, not for you. Just because you don’t like the sound of “meat by-product meal” doesn’t mean your cat won’t!

PedMD has a useful article on exactly what by-products are.

4 rules to get your cat lose weight

There are a lot of overweight cats out there. It can be hard to get cats to lose weight, because cats do what they want, when they want to. We can kid ourselves, but every cat owner knows that their cat is the real boss!

Fat cat

But, there are times where we need to be cruel to be kind. Getting a cat to lose weight needs effort, patience and determination. If you stick to these 4 rules, your cat will lose weight.

Feed the right food

Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you know that feeding the right food will help with weight loss!

Weight loss foods help cats feel fuller from eating less calories. They also help to increase your cat’s BMR, the amount of calories they burn during the day.

The best foods will help with weight loss. But, unless you follow the rest of these tips all you’ll do is waste your money.

Feed the right amount of food

This is the most important rule, and the one most people don’t follow. There is a reason for this though.

It can be really hard to say no to a hungry cat!

Even if you feed the right food, hunger is inevitable. Burning more calories than you eat will make your cat hungry. There is no way around this, and the sooner you accept this the better.

It is VERY important that you stick to your guns. Be firm with your cat about the amount you feed them. If your cat senses weakness, they will pester more and more. If they know you’re serious, they’ll give up asking. The longer you go without giving in, the more they’ll respect you.

Cats are clever enough to know if you’ll cave!

Fat tortie

Lastly, please, please don’t just leave food down for your cat. If there’s always food available to eat there’s no chance of weight loss. I see people do this all the time and it drives me mad!

So, how much is the right amount of food?

I’m afraid I can’t give you an answer to this without knowing more about your cat.

Your veterinarian is a great source of advice here. They can weigh your cat and measure their body condition score (BCS). Your cat’s BCS helps to work out how much excess weight they are carrying. Your veterinarian can then help design a diet plan that will suit your cat.

The other source of information that can help is the food’s packaging itself. This will give you an idea of how much to feed.

There is also a degree of trial-and-error to finding the right amount of food to give. I’d suggest feeding a set amount of food for a few weeks, then weighing your cat again and seeing if they’ve lost weight.


If they’ve lost weight, great! Keep everything the same and weigh them again in another few weeks. If they haven’t lost weight, reduce the amount you give by 10% and repeat the process until they lose weight.

The final bit of advice about how much to feed is to weigh the food you give. If you measure it (even in a dedicated measure) it’s very easy to accidentally give too much. Weighing food is really useful to help weight loss.

Encourage your cat to be more active

Cats burn more calories when they are active. So, if you can get your cat to be more active, they should lose weight faster.

The best way to encourage activity is through play. Try using feather toys to tempt your cat to play. 

Check out this video about how to get your cat to play:

If your cat is very overweight then you’ll need to do this gradually. We don’t want to encourage them to do too much or they can damage their joints.

If your cat eats dried food and really likes eating, I’ve got a tip I used on my own cat. Try throwing bits of kibble down the hallway or across the room to chase. My cat loved this game and it really helped him lose weight!

Encourage your cat to eat slower

This is a tip to help your cat to notice that they’re full, and not just gobble up all the food straight away.

Try using a timed feeder to deliver small, regular meals. You can also get low-tech puzzle bowls which really help.

Now I’ve got my cat to a healthy weight, I use puzzle feeders to help control his appetite. I weigh his food out, and then put a bit in each puzzle feeder. It helps slow down his eating, and it stimulates his brain!

Do I even need to get my cat to lose weight?

It can be tempting to think that weight loss isn’t important. Lots of people think that their cat is happy being overweight.

This simply isn’t true.

Fat cat yawn

Cats who are overweight will get joint pain, feel tired, get diseases and they can’t do the natural behaviours they want to.

There are lots of cats out there who can’t control how much they eat. These cats if left to their own devices would eat too much and become overweight.

That’s why it’s your responsibility to help them to look after themselves.

Final Thoughts

Overweight cats are common. It’s really important to help your cat to help themselves by giving them the right amount of the right kind of food.

With the right food, determination and a plan you can help your cat lose weight. Your cat will live a much longer and happier life. You’ll have to put up with some complaining, but it’s worth it.


Check out the prices of weight loss food now!

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