How to help your cat lose weight

A lot has been written on how to help your cat lose weight. You can overcomplicate it or you can keep it simple. I believe in the simple approach because there’s two ways any living creature can lose weight: you can burn more energy i.e. calories and/or you can ingest less calories. To put that another way: you can eat less and do more exercise or do both. Note: you’ll have to check that unexpected weight gain is not due to a disease such as an overproduction of cortisone.

Fat cat dreams of tuna soup
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Cat pic in public domain. Montage by PoC.

You can check your cat for an ideal body conformation by looking at the chart below. The typical domestic cat weighs between 3.6 to 6.8 kgs (8-15 pounds). But this is more about body shape (conformation) in determing obesity. The best way to help your cat is to ensure that he or she gets more exercise and that you feed her less. It can be a gradual decrease in the amount of food or the food has a lower calorific content. The habit of giving treats of human food needs to be eliminated.

Cat weight chart

Cat weight chart

It goes without saying that full-time indoor cats will find it harder to burn calories than cats allowed outdoors. When a person keeps their domestic cat indoors they place upon themselves more responsibility in terms of keeping their cat at an ideal weight. It means more input from the human caretaker and your veterinarian will no doubt advise on the calorie content of cat food.

Your veterinarian can also be an excellent point of contact with monitoring weight because if you make it a routine then there is some pressure on you to maintain your cat’s weight loss because you will be monitored by somebody else and you don’t want to let yourself and your cat down (I know there will be expense which is a barrier). Apparently a healthy weight loss regime should amount to about 1 to 2% of total body weight per week.

I’d speculate and say that a lot of overweight cats are allowed to feed freely. In other words the owner does not control the portions. Many cats can eat when they want to eat and how much they want. They might become bored because they are full-time indoor cats. They might eat for pleasure and it is said that dry cat food is more prone to cause obesity because it contains a high percentage of carbohydrates in order to make the kibble. Many cats turn carbohydrates into fat. I do too 🙂 . I avoid carbs if I can. They are better off with a diet high in protein and fat and lower in carbs.

I’d say that it is wise for a cat to go onto a high quality wet cat food stored in pouches which provide a relatively small amount of food at one sitting. It is a good way to control portion size. I am convinced that a lot of the problems with weight loss is developing a new habit of eating less. Free feeding dry cat food to an overweight cat is ill advised because domestic cats sometimes do not know how to control how much they eat because they are living unnatural lives which presents a barrier to burning calories and the food that they eat i.e. dry cat food is also unnaturally high in calories.

To summarise, and to keep it simple, I would ensure that your cat eats high quality wet cat food from pouches and that the amount provided is monitored and reduced gradually. In addition, on the other side of the coin, your cat should exercise more (monitor it) which means the owner has to instigate more play sessions. If your cat goes outside then it is unlikely that they will put on weight although of course set against this is the risk of being injured.

P.S. An L-caritine supplement (200-500 mg per day) may assist in getting your cat’s weight down as it may incease lean body mass. See your vet about it.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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Useful links
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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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1 Response

  1. Cat's Meow says:

    Thanks for the advice! My youngest, Cleo, has somewhat of a mental problem with food. She was trapped in a company’s truck engine compartment for five days without food or water before she was released.

    After her release, my husband brought her home. She is the life of the party! Very interested in everyone and everything.

    Unfortunately, when she hears or smells food, she reverts back to her starvation mode and wants to eat. I keep dry food down so she and her “brother” can nibble at will. I also give them wet food when he asks for it. He is 11 and deserves whatever he wants.

    Cleo’s appetite has come under some control over her five year lifespan, but her weight has not. Strangely, she does not eat all the time. She will even turn food away if she is full. Hopefully, her weight issue is due to lack of exercise. We are trying to encourage her to play more.

    Cleo is the blue Korat, and Rex is the tabby. This was taken before she gained too much weight. 🙂

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