How to Slim Down an Overweight Cat

14 Minute Read
Updated September 4, 2023

Improve your furry friend's quality of life while losing unwanted weight. Wondering how to tell if my cat is overweight. Learn how to slim down your overweight cat to give her more energy and a better quality of life.  Sadly, obesity in cats is common.

Your feline is not that far removed from his wild counterparts. His body is built for speed and agility to effectively hunt through various terrain and climb high to escape would-be predators. So when you start to notice your cat's figure has started to look rounder, it's important to take action. 

The ordinary house cat no longer faces the challenge of physically hunting for food, and sometimes the most exercise a house-bound kitty gets is walking across the room to the food bowl. This inactive lifestyle has probably caused your cat to put on a few unwanted pounds.

As soon as you notice your cat's added girth, you should take steps to help your feline companion lose weight.  Obesity in cats is a problem - especially in indoor cats. If your furry friend is not at their ideal body weight, the cat's life could be cut dramatically short.


What is Cat Obesity?

The Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine reports that about 50 percent of all house cats are overweight, and some are even obese. When a pet owner first brings their feline to the veterinarian for a health checkup, one of the most frequent questions is: Is my cat overweight?

Obesity in cats—generally viewed as a body weight that is 20 percent or more above average weight—is the most frequently observed nutritional disorder among domestic cats.

You might think, what's the harm? They look happy. But the reality is that obesity can contribute to many health issues and will reduce your cat's quality of life and the length of it. 


Identifying Overweight or Obese Cat Problem


With some overweight cats, it's obvious. If your cat's belly touches the ground when he walks or has trouble grooming because of his size, then it's high time for some changes.

But not all fat cats are obviously fat, so cat owners are often left guessing. Long fur and body type can make it challenging to catch weight issues early.

Wondering how much should my cat weigh? Most cats have a body weight from 7 to 12 pounds (normal weight), but many breeds are well above or below the average weight range for a house cat. Cat owners should weigh their cats to determine their normal body weight and even the body condition score.

For example, a large Maine Coon can easily reach 15-20 lbs and still be at a healthy weight and muscle range. Whereas the exotic Singapura can weigh as little as 4 lbs fully grown!

Long-haired cats, like Persians, are a larger cat breed already, but their dense coats make them look even bigger. This can make it hard to see weight issues. If you want to learn how to tell if my cat is overweight, then look for the following signs: 

    • Cannot easily feel the ribs
    • Round body shape
    • Loss of waist
    • Difficulty walking
    • Excessive sleeping
    • Bad temper
    • Shortness of breath
    • Slow movement
    • Tight collar


If you suspect your cat is getting chubby, or if you are actively working on your kitty's body weight, then you need to know how to check your cat's weight and appearance regularly. The body condition scoring system will also give you a window into your cat's current body weight by scoring the cat from one to nine.

Many veterinarians use the body condition score when developing a weight loss plan to help your kitty hit their ideal weight and improve the cat's life.


Risks of Feline Obesity

When a cat is overweight, it becomes a catch-22 because being physically heavy actually inhibits its regular activity and eventually affects the animal's quality of life. Feline obesity leads to health problems.

Obesity also causes a variety of severe health disorders that can shorten the pet's lifespan. Remember, an obese cat is an unhealthy cat. 

An overweight cat can suffer from a variety of health problems, such as:

    • Osteoarthritis 
    • Hip Dysplasia
    • Diabetes Mellitus 
    • High blood pressure


Why is My Cat Fat?


You might be wondering, why is my cat fat? So how can you tell if your pretty kitty is getting a little roly-poly? Cat obesity occurs when the body increases its storage of fat. However, sometimes, there are other contributing factors. 

    • Age: Older cats are less energetic and require fewer calories, so they can quickly gain weight if you do not adjust their diet accordingly. 
    • Breed: Certain breeds are known to gain weight, such as the Maine Coon and the Persian. 
    • Indoor lifestyle: Indoor cats often live sedentary lives, accumulating body fat from high-calorie intake and very little exercise.
    • Gender: Female cats gain more weight than males - especially indoor cats. 
    • Neutering/spaying: The metabolism of a fixed cat is lower, and they require fewer calories; they are twice as likely to become obese. 
    • Overfeeding: Keeping the food bowl full for 24 hours causes weight gain. Commercial cat foods are formulated to entice a cat with added fats and salt, which improves the food's taste and causes the animal to overeat. 
    • Feeding habits: Feeding people food and table scraps can lead to weight gain. 

The best way to tell if your cat is fat is to ask your vet. They will be able to assess your cat and help guide you on your cat's weight loss journey. 

In between vet visits, however, you can use a simple chart to see if your cat is over or underweight called the Body Conditioning Score.

This chart allows you to visually inspect your cat's body shape and rate them on a scale of 1-10. 1 being very underweight, and 10 being very obese. Cats on either extreme end of this spectrum should be assessed by a vet as soon as possible to rule out illness or underlying disease.


What to Feed a Fat Cat

What you food you feed your cat plays a big role in their weight, muscle, and overall health. If your cat is looking a little chonky, then it might be time to try some new food that is more conducive to your cat's weight loss journey.

If you have an overweight cat, the food you feed plays a crucial role in weight loss goals. You'll need to become very food conscious, take the time to read ingredients, and control portions. If you feed the kitty too much, the pet will continue to gain weight or not shed any pounds. 

No matter what type of cat food you feed, look for foods that are high in protein and made from real food ingredients. Fillers and junk ingredients can contribute to further weight gain and poor digestion, so choose a natural food loaded with recognizable ingredients. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a cat food for weight loss:

Bad Food Makes Fat Cats 

Many commercial weight loss cat foods are available, but don't get tricked by clever marketing. Cats are carnivores, so carb-heavy "weight loss" cat formulas often won't help you achieve your cat's goals.

The best cat food for a cat with excess weight is high in protein and low in carbs. While feeding a low-fat and low-calorie cat food may seem like the best option, these diets often don't supply your cat's energy to stay active. They may be acceptable for senior cats, but you'll want to focus on more protein and low carbs for overweight pets.

Instead, look for foods that are rich in animal protein and have healthy fibre sources to keep your kitty feeling fuller for longer and supply long-term energy for your cat to build muscle.

Overeating and Portion Control

Overweight cats are fat because they are taking in more calories than they are using, so it's important to balance your cat's portions with their daily activity levels. How much should you feed your cat? That depends on the food and your cat's metabolism.

It's very common to free-feed cats, as they tend to prefer grazing, but obese cats often have poor eating habits and will overeat when food is left out all day. Cats need time to learn portion control.

Instead, consider true free feeding, which means allowing your cat to eat what it can in a pre-set period of time and then removing the food until the next scheduled mealtime.

Instead of grazing or overeating, your cat will learn to eat the appropriate amount of calories they need to support their energy needs until the next meal.

Cat Food Calculator

Best Weight Management Dry Food for Cats

Dry food is the most popular food format for cats and dogs. It's convenient and cost-effective, so it's no wonder so many cats are on kibble diets.

So what's the best cat kibble for weight loss, and how many calories can your cat eat? Weight management cat formulas may be a good option for some cats looking to shed a few pounds.

These foods are often lower in calories or fat to allow your cat to continue eating their normal portion without taking in as many calories.

While this may sound easy, remember that not all weight management cat diets are made from high-quality ingredients. The quality of the ingredients will always matter more than the calorie content. 

Here are a few weight management dry cat foods that meet our high standards of quality to help your cat slim down:

Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight for Cats

This meaty kibble is a wonderful choice. It is high in fibre for easy digestion and contains fresh chicken fresh healthy ingredients. Raw Boost formulas contain high-quality kibble in a freeze-dried raw meat coating and have freeze-dried raw nuggets mixed in with the kibble for added flavour and nutrients to support your cat's health and digestion. 

Shop Instinct Cat Food

Orijen Fit & Trim Cat Food

Orijen Fit & Trim doesn't shy away from protein or calories for true carnivores. Instead, this low-carb and nutrient-dense diet helps to support muscle and long-term energy instead of quick calories that a lazy fat cat won't use. This multi-protein diet offers a wide range of natural nutrients from real food ingredients.

Shop Orijen Cat Food

Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Optimal Weight Cat Food

Another of our high protein and high meat content weight management cat food, Tiki Cat knows that even fat cats are carnivores and need a meat-rich diet to thrive. With added metabolism and digestion boosters like  L-carnitine, this oven-baked cat kibble is designed to help your furry friend's body digest and use calories better so that she can lose fat and build muscle naturally. 

Shop All Tiki Cat

Does Canned Cat Food Help with Weight Loss?

Though kibble is popular, canned food is a great addition to your cat's weight loss journey. Though weight management canned cat foods are rare, any high-quality canned cat food will be suitable. Here are a few reasons that wet cat food is ideal for weight management:

Moisture Supports Digestion

Moisture plays an important role in your cat's digestion and nutrient distribution. Kibble-fed cats are often dehydrated because, instinctually, cats don't drink enough water. They need to get most of their moisture from their diet. 

A well-hydrated cat will have healthier digestion, and a wet diet will help move nutrients around your cat's body more efficiently. By using nutrients and calories better, your cat's body will be better at distributing energy to support activity. 

Canned Foods are Calorie Dense

Wet cat food is naturally more calorie-dense than kibble diets because it requires fewer filler ingredients and fewer carbs to create the texture. This allows your cat's diet to focus more on high-quality meats that support a healthy weight. 

Canned foods do need to be properly portion controlled to support weight loss (especially if your cat eats a lot of the most stuff), but they are highly palatable and encourage scheduled feeding times instead of grazing.

What are Weight Loss Supplements for Cats?

Many pet owners are surprised to learn that weight loss pet food supplements can help kitty shed pounds. Many of these supplements are designed to support your cat's natural digestion and help them better use calories and nutrients. 

Digestive aids, like probiotics and fibre, can boost digestion and help better support appropriate energy levels for your cat. Here are two of our go-to recommendations:

OmegaAlpha Probiotic 8

This blend of healthy bacteria helps correct long-term digestive issues that have led to weight gain and poor health in cats. Omega Alpha Probiotic 8 helps kickstart digestion and metabolism. 

Fruitables Weight Loss Supplement

Fruitables Weight Loss Supplement relies on a blend of pumpkin and oatmeal to help your cat lose up to 2% of their excess body weight per week when used regularly. It acts as a great supplement that helps your cat feel full while enjoying the boost of added fibre, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E.


10 Tricks to Slim Down an Overweight Cat


Below you'll find a variety of ways to help kitty lose weight. You might want to try several of the methods to get your cat back in shape and keep the kitty at its target weight. 

1. Stop Kitty Grazing

All cats enjoy grazing, and you would be surprised to learn how many calories they consume. They will return to the dry cat food bowl whenever they get bored. Unfortunately, chronic grazing leads to overeating. You'll need to wean your cat off the grazing habit by only placing the food bowl out for one hour at mealtime and then putting the food away as part of your cat's weight loss plan.

2. Say No to Treats

Pet owners encounter a bevy of tasty treats, and you probably love spoiling your cat with the yummies. However, the morsels are high in calories and can quickly tip the scales and shatter your cat's diet goals. If your cat comes to you begging for a treat, try to play with the kitty instead of supplying food. The gift of your time will become your cat's new weight loss treat. 

3. Make Your Cat Work for Food

Working a little to enjoy a bowl of food won't hurt your cat. Cats are natural-born hunters, so move your cat's food bowl to a new location every time you feed. Keep your kitty guessing and hunting for food.

4. Encourage Energy Bursts

Just like lions and tigers, a cat is designed for short energy bursts. The majority of the time, the cat will spend napping. It would be best if you encouraged the temporary energy boosts with play sessions throughout the day to burn calories and achieve gradual weight loss.

5. Try Food Dispensing Toys

Achieving weight loss in a cat or multiple cats takes more than just diet control. To conquer your cat's obesity issues, you'll need a combination of a weight loss diet with fun activities with food dispensing toys to make the cat's meals challenging and conquer excess fat.

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6. Use a Feeding Ball

A wide assortment of feeding balls is available that make your cat work for a tasty morsel of food. The brightly coloured balls are designed so you can tuck a little food in the ball. Your cat will enjoy batting the ball around in an effort to dislodge the food from the ball. 

7. Take Your Cat for a Walk

This idea might not work for all cats, but some kitties enjoy going outdoors for an excursion. Hook your cat up to a leash and harness, and let the kitty enjoy supervised outdoor playtime. No, the cat probably will not walk on the leash like a dog, but if you sit outside with your furry friend, they might play and try to hunt bugs which are all great forms of exercise.

8. Supply Ample Fresh Water

Water gives your cat a 'full' feeling. Most kitties will drink water when they cannot find food, and they are feeling bored. Try a pet water fountain which has been shown to encourage cats to increase their water consumption substantially. 

9. Use Climbing Posts and Cat Trees

Many cats are climbers, and most enjoy keeping their toenails in top shape. Providing cat trees and scratchers to encourage the cat to exercise by scratching and climbing. 

10. Cut Carbs

Many commercial cat diets are much higher in carbs than you think, and these quick and often empty calories are contributing to your cat's weight. Opt for meaty foods and treats instead to hit your cat's ideal weight.


Frequently Asked Fat Cat Questions

How can I tell if my cat is overweight?

If you can feel your cat's ribs with gentle pressure but are not visibly prominent, then your cat is at an ideal weight. An overweight cat usually has a round belly and lacks a defined waistline.

What health risks are associated with overweight cats?

Overweight cats are at higher risk for diabetes, arthritis, heart issues, and reduced quality of life. It's essential that you manage their weight for overall well-being.

How can I help my overweight cat lose weight?

Consult your cat's veterinarian for a weight loss plan tailored to your cat's needs. 

Can I use special diets to help my cat lose weight?

A reduced calorie diet may be right for some, whereas others may benefit from a high protein and low carb diet choice like raw cat food.

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Written by

Homes Alive Pets


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