If you are in a rush and want to skip ahead to our Favorite Dry Cat Food For Weight Loss look no further than Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Weight Management
If your cat is having some issues with weight, there is no reason to worry. It is actually common for indoor cats to be overweight. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your cat lose weight.
One of the most important things is choosing the best weight control cat food specifically for your adored kitty. We know things can get confusing with so many brands and products out there. To help you cut through the noise and pick the best dry food for your cat, we reviewed hundreds of products and selected our top five below.
- Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Weight Management (also available on Chewy.com!)
- Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control (also available on Chewy.com!)
- Solid Gold – Fit As A Fiddle (also available on Chewy.com!)
- Purina Beyond Grain Free (also available on Chewy.com!)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Feline Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution (also available on Chewy.com!)
Cat weight problems are more common than you think
According to Pet Obesity Prevention, 60% of cats in the US are overweight or obese. This is usually due to low activity levels, overfeeding and high carbohydrates food. Excessive weight puts your cat at risk of many diseases, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and arthritis. This is why it is so important to take action to help your best friend lose weight and prevent these issues.
A simple tool to determine if your cat is overweight is the body condition score, a chart (like the one below) that describes and compares the characteristics of healthy and overweight cats. According to veterinarian Dr. Krista Williams “the average domestic cat should weigh approximately 8-10 pounds (3.6-4.4 kg)”. In any case, it is always best to have a veterinarian take a look at your cat and determine his/her ideal weight.
Is wet or dry food better for weight loss?
There seems to be widespread agreement that, in general, wet food is a better choice for your cat. It usually has a higher protein content, helps your cat stay hydrated and resembles more closely a cat’s natural diet (hunting mice and small birds).
However, wet food comes with its drawbacks. Among them, its high cost immediately comes to mind and we know that it can be a big constraint for who’s on a budget. The good news is that nowadays more companies are making great dry food alternatives that help your cat stay healthy and lose weight. In general, it is recommended having a good balance of dry and wet weight-loss food.
How to choose the best cat food for weight loss
There are many factors you need to consider when choosing the best diet cat food. The ones you should always make sure to look at are protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Unfortunately, many companies do not always disclose their carb content, making comparisons harder. We can still use all the information provided to calculate an estimate as suggested by Dr. Coates. For extra credit, we’d recommend clean label products with natural ingredients.
A cat’s natural diet
To best satisfy our cat’s dietary needs, the idea here is to help our cats eat a diet that is closer to their natural patterns. According to research, cats in the wild get 52% of calories from protein, 46% from fat and only 2% from carbs.
Reaching these percentages might be unrealistic, undesirable, or even impossible, especially when feeding our cats dry food (which contains a high percentage of carbs). Nonetheless, it is important to get an idea of what wild cats have been eating for the past millennia, as that can certainly be a good indicator of what a healthy cat diet looks like.
These are some of the main things to look out for when choosing the right cat dry food for weight loss:
- Protein content: As a general rule, a protein content between 40-50% is ideal, given that it is coming from natural ingredients (real meat or fish). It’s important to point out that when you are comparing protein between dry and wet food, you need to account for the increased moisture of wet food. Higher moisture causes the protein content, as a percentage, to seem lower. This is why we need to calculate the dry-matter protein to get an accurate comparison. To do so, you can use a dry-matter calculator such as this one.
- Fiber content: The effects of fiber in our cats’ diets are usually underestimated, yet a recent study found that a moderate protein and high-fiber diet, can help obese cats lose significant weight over time. One of the factors at play here is that a high fiber content helps the cat feel full earlier and stop begging for food. Fiber also helps keep the cat’s gastrointestinal tract healthy so potentially preventing and controlling hairballs as well.
- Carbohydrates: Cats are carnivores, for this reason, they tend to do better on diets that are low in carbs. Unfortunately, many dry foods have a high carb content and do not always its percentage. The good news is that there are also some great options with a considerably lower carb content.
Pro-tip: grain free food usually has a lower amount of carbs.
- *Calories: Many people look at calories as the first factor when choosing the best food to lose weight (themselves or for their cats). However, it has now established that not all calories were created equal, for humans and cats alike. 100 calories of candy are not the same as 100 calories of broccoli, since they are metabolized very differently:
- Protein calories are less fattening than carb calories, as protein takes more energy to metabolize.
- Protein and fiber kill appetite, making you (and your cat) eat fewer calories.
We recognize that calories can play an important role in weight loss but, we believe that they should not be among the top three factors to consider. If you want to read in more detail how this applies to humans, you can check this (very interesting) article.
What else can you do to help your cat lose weight?
The type of food you choose is not the only important factor to consider when trying to help your adorable cat lose weight: portion sizes and activity levels are equally, if not more, important. In nature, cats will eat multiple small meals throughout the day and they usually have to work to get their food. “Their behavior is characterized by periods of rest broken up by short bursts of relatively intense activity”.
If your cat has a weight issue, feeding them a great weight management cat food is not enough. It is super-important that you also start looking at the portion sizes and the number of times you feed them.
We mentioned that calories are not a good metric to look at to choose the best food, however, they are a much better metric to approximately measure how much to feed your cat. In general, the average indoor cat should intake 20 calories per pound to maintain weight. If instead, we are trying to help the cat to lose weight, we will want to feed for 2 pounds less. For example, if your cat is 12 pounds and is overweight, to measure how much to feed them you will do:
(12-2) * 20 = 10 * 20 = 200 calories
When reducing a cat’s portion size, it is always better to do so gradually, to slowly help them to adapt to a lower food intake.
Regarding the number of times, ideally, you would want to feed your cat multiple small portions throughout the day. This might sound difficult for people spending most of the time outside. A way around it is to consider an interactive feeder, which can help you spread your cat’s meals throughout the day and make your cat do some work (activity) to earn the food.
It might be hard to guess by looking at some house cats, but cats did not evolve to lay on the bed for most of the day. Their instinct is to run, climb and jump, looking for prey or running from predators.
To stay healthy, a cat needs to engage in a lot of physical activity throughout the day. The best way to ensure that your cat gets a good amount of activity is to play with them, encouraging them to run and jump as if they were hunting prey. There are tons of cool toys and slow feeders that will engage your cat and help them get the right amount of activity. Otherwise, having another cat in the house can help your cat to increase activity levels (cats tend to naturally play and run after each other).
If that would be a possibility, you should definitely consider it. For overweight indoor cats, it is even more important that you choose cat food with particular care.
Weight loss cat food reviews
Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Weight Management
Overall Best Weight Control Cat Food
This formula has one of the highest dry-matter proteins that we could find with a whopping 52.27%. It is grain-free, thus reducing the amount of carbs and closely emulating cats’ natural diet and it is also the best low calories cat food that we found.
The ingredient list is also quite clean, with chicken as the main component. Although it does contain some soy and corn-based ingredients, such as Corn Gluten Meal and Soy Protein Concentrate. This allows the product to be sold at a fairly competitive price compared to many of the other weight-loss alternatives.
A great bonus of this formulation is that it has an addition of probiotics, which will help your cat improve his/her metabolism and bowel movements.
- Crude Protein Dry Matter Basis: 52.27%
- Crude Fiber Dry Matter Basis: 5.68%
- Carbohydrates estimate: 16.5%
Blue Buffalo Weight Control Cat Food
Best clean Label dry cat food for weight loss
This is without a doubt one of the best dry cat foods for weight loss. You can immediately see it by checking its ingredients list. Real deboned chicken is the main one, supported by a range of other natural ingredients and vegetables such as flex, peas, carrots, and cranberries. As a bonus, this will also help your best bud control his hairballs if that is an issue.
Cats can really feel when a product is good and they absolutely love it!
On the other hand, it does contain rice and potatoes, making its carb content significant compared to some alternatives. That is, however, balanced by a very high percentage of fiber (9.89% dry-matter), which will help your cat feel more full and avoid overeating.
This product is particularly good if your cat has very sensitive teeth as the kibbles are really small.
- Crude Protein Dry Matter Basis: 32.97%
- Crude Fiber Dry Matter Basis: 9.89%
- Carbohydrates estimate: 36%
Solid Gold – Fit as a Fiddle
Best non-chicken Dry cat for weight loss
Solid Gold is a great company committed to good, healthy nutrition. Their products pack a variety of superfoods and a balanced combination of ingredients. Their weight loss line, Fit as a Fiddle, is made with Alaska Pollock, broccoli, blueberries, almond oil and pumpkin, among other good ingredients.
Being grain-free, high protein, and high fiber, this food can help your cat achieve its weight loss objectives and get healthier.
As expected, the price of this premium product is a tad higher than some of the other brands. This could be easily justified by the presence of so many high-quality ingredients, that make the food easily digestible.
Note for chicken-lover cat owners: this product has a fairly strong fishy odor, and we’ve seen that sometimes cats that are used to eating mostly chicken-based food don’t particularly love it.
- Crude Protein Dry Matter Basis: 34.44%
- Crude Fiber Dry Matter Basis: 10%
- Carbohydrates estimate: 32%
Purina Beyond Grain Free
Best Salmon-based Dry cat food for weight loss
If you are looking for a weight loss alternative that is not primarily chicken-based and you are willing to pay a premium for it, this Salmon-based Purina Beyond is one to seriously consider.
Chicken is still one of the ingredients, but salmon is the main one here, as part of a super-clean ingredient list that contains no soy, grains or corn.
Other than the high cost, the downside of this product is that it has not been specially formulated for weight loss and it has a lower fiber content than some of its alternatives. However, by looking at its ingredient list and nutritional facts, it is safe to say that coupled with the right portions and activity levels, this will help your cat lose weight.
Notice for sensitive teeth cat owners: This food does have quite large nibbles and can be more challenging to chew for cats with sensitive teeth or other teeth issues.
- Crude Protein Dry Matter Basis: 37.50%
- Crude Fiber Dry Matter Basis: 7.39%
- Carbohydrates estimate: 29%
Looking at its nutritional information, this would not seem to fare well, because of its higher carb content and lower protein. However, this product has proved to be extremely effective in helping kitties lose weight. What seems to be working particularly well here is the elevated fiber content.
Cats love this food, so feeding it to your cat shouldn’t be difficult. On the flip side, this is the most expensive of all the products that we rated. What’s strange is that despite the high cost, this product does not have the cleanest ingredient list, with the main ingredient being Chicken By-Product Meal. So if you prefer to feed your cute cat a natural dry food, we’d recommend picking a different one.
- Crude Protein Dry Matter Basis: 38.7%
- Crude Fiber Dry Matter Basis: 9.8%
- Carbohydrates estimate: 41%
Overall, if you’re trying to help your feline friend lose weight with urgency, it is clear that Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Weight Management is your best bet. Compared to its alternatives, it has the highest protein and lowest carb content, making its nutritional value closer to a natural cat’s diet. Cats seem to love this product, so it should not be an issue to get your cat used to it (remembering to gradually switch the food, rather than suddenly).
If you are very concerned with the quality of ingredients, instead, we recommend you use Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control which will also strongly help your cat lose weight.
We hope you enjoyed this article and that it will help you and your feline friends to lose some extra weight