Dr. Marie Menniti's Veterinary Advice
If your cat is overweight and you need to choose a food to help them lose weight, the following tips can help you to pick the best one.
Note: It is best to consult with your veterinarian when considering a weight loss plan for your pet to ensure there are no underlying clinical conditions first.
1) Choose a diet with fewer Calories (kcal) per kilogram
Your cat can eat more of a diet that is less energy dense. Having a fuller bowl might just help her forget that she is actually getting fewer calories and reduce begging behavior.
With your veterinarian’s guidance, you can use the Pet Nutrition Alliance calorie calculator to determine your cat’s ideal body weight and create a feeding plan based on the food of your choice. Make sure you weigh your cat’s food out each day- measuring cups are inaccurate.
2) Choose a diet that contains a high level of protein
Restricting calories on a dietary plan will cause your cat to lose weight. But to prevent muscle loss as well as fat loss, you’ll need to provide plenty of protein. Look for something that is at least 35% crude protein, on a dry matter basis, but higher levels are even better in this case!
3) Choose a diet with less than 10% fat
Fat is an energy-dense nutrient. Not only does it contribute a high number of calories to the diet, there are some studies suggesting that the fat itself can support bodyweight retention. A good food for weight loss will contain no more than 10% fat on a dry matter basis.
(Note: The nutrient value listed on your food label will most likely be given on an “as fed” basis. You can learn how to convert these values to dry matter basis here.)
4) Choose a clinical diet that is specifically designed for weight loss
If your weight loss plan requires that you drastically reduce the portion sizes that your cat receives, you should consider a clinical or ‘prescription’ diet. These are specifically designed for weight loss and your veterinarian can help you choose the best one for your cat.
These diets are very nutrient-dense without being calorie-dense. She will still be getting all the vitamins and minerals she needs to stay healthy, even though there are fewer calories per bite.
A successful diet plan will usually result in around a 1% loss of bodyweight per week. Re-checks with your veterinarian will ensure that your cat isn’t losing weight too quickly and is staying healthy throughout.