Diet cat food—practical advice to help your cat lose weight

Cats are creatures of comfort—when it comes to relaxing, there are few more accomplished masters than felines.

The downside of being leisure-lovers is that cats tend to pile on the pounds. A lack of exercise combined with high-calorie food is a recipe for weight gain, which can impact your feline’s health and longevity.

Your cat’s diet can play a huge role in keeping weight under control. Whether you are feeding wet (available as gravy or jelly), dry, raw, or home-cooked food, following a few simple guidelines can help manage your cat’s weight and keep it from ballooning while ensuring your kitty gets all the required nutrients.

Untamed has the info you need on diet cat food and tailor-made meal plans to keep your kitty lean and healthy.

When is a cat overweight?

Cats spend up to 16 hours a day dozing or sleeping.

Their cousins in the wild are not different and divide their time between long periods of rest and short bursts of intense activity to hunt and catch prey.

In the wilderness, cats naturally achieve a balance between:

  • Energy intake through eating
  • Energy conservation during rest
  • Energy expenditure while hunting

You don’t see overweight feral cats because their weight control is natural. The problem with domestic felines is that they don’t need to hunt to get their food. The energy they would typically spend on catching prey isn’t used and gets stored as fatty tissue.

Indoor cats, in particular, can easily fall into a sedentary lifestyle. The result is that they can quickly become overweight—up to 50 per cent of domestic cats are thought to be heavier than they should be.

There are two degrees of excess weight, so cats can be classified as:

  • Overweight
  • Obese

Overweight

Cats with 10 and 20 per cent above their ideal body weight are considered overweight.

You might not view your pet as chubby because the difference between ideal weight and too much poundage can be as little as 300 grams.

Overweight cats might be on the slippery slope, though. Once eating and activity habits have been established, weight gain can continue rapidly unless you break the cycle.

Obese

An obese cat weighs over 20% more than ideal.

Obesity doesn’t happen overnight, and it would normally take months for a feline to reach this stage. But, weight gain is insidious—unless a cat is weighed regularly, it is not easy to spot how much they put on.

Look, I’m having a salad for lunch

Source: Pixabay

Is there a scoring system to check your cat?

Vets in the U.K. use a grading system called the Body Condition Score (BCS) to determine whether a cat is too thin, too large, or “just right.”

There are nine grades, as follows:

Body condition score

Condition

Explanation

Grades one to three

Too thin

  • BCS1—the cat’s ribs, spine, and pelvis are visible, and there is almost no muscle mass
  • BCS2—very limited muscle mass and pronounced bones
  • BCS3—limited fat deposits around the stomach, ribs, and spine can be felt easily

Grades four to five

Ideal

Cats graded four to five are well-proportioned, with adequate muscle mass and enough fatty layers under the skin to provide insulation

Grades six and seven

Overweight

  • BCS6—you can feel but not see the ribs, and there is no waistline
  • BCS7—slight deposits of fat are noticeable around the tummy, and there is no abdominal tuck

Grades eight and nine

Obese

  • BCS8—the ribs cannot be felt under the fat layer above them, and the cat appears “pear-shaped”
  • BCS9—the tummy is round, and fat deposits prevent you from feeling the cat’s bone structure

 

I’m a perfect 10, me

Source: Pixabay

How does weight-control cat food work?

As obligate carnivores, cats get all the nutrients they need from meat. Many commercial cat foods are made to maximise profit, so they contain large amounts of:

  • Grains and cereals
  • Carbs
  • Flavour enhancers to improve the taste

None of these add nutritional value to the food and often result in cats eating more to cover their requirements.

Weight control cat food works by providing the nutrients your feline needs in the most efficient way possible, using the smallest portions.

Cat food that encourages weight loss is:

What is healthy cat food for weight loss?

Healthy weight-loss food for cats contains the ingredients your cat has evolved to live on without unnecessary additives or fillers.

As a meat-eater, your feline thrives best on:

  1. Animal protein
  2. Animal fat

Animal protein

Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of:

  • Muscle
  • Skin and coat
  • Organs

Cats can get the amino acids they need from any protein source, but animal protein is the most efficient way.

The efficiency with which a cat can metabolise different protein sources is called the biological value (BV), and the most common proteins in commercial cat food have the following BVs:

Protein source

Biological value

Egg

100%

Chicken

98%

Lamb

95%

Salmon, cooked fish, sardines, prawns, tuna

94%

Fish meal, poultry meal, fish or poultry derivatives, liver

92%

Beef and pork or ham

87%

Soya

68%

Wheatgerm, corn, sweetcorn, and other vegetable proteins

Below 65%

If the protein source in your kitty’s diet food has a BV of 90% or more, you will need to serve relatively small amounts to cover their needs.

Only the best will do for a diet

Image (c) Untamed

Animal fat

Fat is the primary energy source in cat food and provides essential fatty acids to maintain cell structure.

Animal fat also enhances the taste of the product. Even if your feline has been used to a diet rich in flavour enhancers like sugar, you should have no problem getting your kitty to tuck into a food rich in animal fat.

Healthy diets based on animal protein and fat also contain the micronutrients your cat needs, including:

  • Vitamins A, B complex, D, and E
  • Minerals such as zinc, calcium, and magnesium
  • Sufficient taurine to satisfy the requirements 

How can you check the quality of cat food for overweight cats?

All the information you need to determine whether or not a cat’s weight loss food is good is on the label.

The two most important lists to study are:

  • Ingredient list
  • Guaranteed analysis

Ingredient list

The best ingredient lists are:

  • Short
  • Concise
  • Consistent from month to month

The ingredient lists should tell you precisely what is in the product.

Ingredients must be listed in order of volume, with the largest component at the top. The watch-outs you should be aware of are:

  • Ingredient splitting—If you notice a long list of grains and cereals in the ingredients, you should check whether they are different forms of the same substance. The most common examples are ground corn, corn gluten, and cornmeal. If all three appear on the same ingredient list, the total volume of corn in the product may be larger than the meat content
  • Unclear meat sources—You should beware of phrases like “meat and animal derivatives.” These catch-all descriptions can mean that a product claiming to be chicken-based actually contains beef, pork, offcuts, and offal—whatever is cheapest at the time of manufacture. Some of these undefined ingredients may also cause food allergies in your cat
  • Additives and E-numbers—Artificial additives are often included in a product when the main ingredients don’t cover a cat’s nutritional needs. Some additives may even be harmful to cats in large doses

Guaranteed analysis

The guaranteed analysis of a diet tells you how much of each nutrient group is in the product.

By law, manufacturers have to list:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbs
  • Moisture

You should combine the guaranteed analysis with the ingredient list to get a clear picture of how good the food is.

Look for a weight management food for cats that contains:

Nutrient group

Ideal percentage

Animal protein

30% or more

Animal fat

Around 13%–15%

Carbs

Less than 3%

Untamed has the best cat food for weight loss and management

Untamed can make your cat look sleek and athletic.

Our food is formulated to give your feline:

  • Healthy energy coming from fat to stimulate activity
  • The amino acids needed to help muscle tone

Untamed products come in convenient tins to help you regulate the amount of food your cat eats, and we will help you plan the calories fed with a customised meal plan.

We formulated our recipes according to the following principles:

  • Only human-grade ingredients—We only use ingredients approved for human consumption
  • Vet-approved recipes—Vets and nutritionists sign off our formulas, so your feline will get all the nutrients needed
  • Gentle steam-cooking—Our refined steaming process ensures that harmful bacteria are eliminated, and the goodness is locked into your feline friend’s food
  • Protein-rich formulas—Our meals have twice the amount of animal protein used by most other manufacturers, so your kitty gets the required amino acids in small, easily digestible portions
  • Hypoallergenic meals—Single protein sources in some of our meals ensure that even sensitive cats can enjoy Untamed meals without the risk of allergic reactions

Untamed is the best way to get your cat to lose weight while staying healthy—try our delicious specialities and see!

How to get your paws on Untamed

Untamed wants to make dieting as easy as possible for your feline!

To experience the Untamed effect, order a trial pack for your kitty to taste. Here’s how it works:

  1. Fill out our Try Now questionnaire
  2. Check your email for your feline’s personalised meal plan
  3. Order your trial pack online

Once our delicacies arrive, you’ll see how your kitty goes wild for Untamed.

When you’ve worked out which flavours and recipes your feline loves most, you can order your first monthly meal pack. Your tailor-made meal plan will take account of your kitty’s age—from kitten to senior—by varying the feeding amounts recommended. 

We will make sure you never run out and help you manage your ongoing weight-loss programme with the best in cat nutrition.

The following results should be visible within a week and get better with time:

  • More energy and less mess in the litter tray from the outset
  • Gradual conversion of fat into muscle over the first two months
  • Playfulness and a noticeably leaner physique after four months
  • Consistent energy and natural weight management for the rest of your feline’s life

  • On my way to an hourglass figure

    Image (c) Untamed

    What effect can being overweight have on a cat?

    Excessive weight and obesity in cats are not to be taken lightly. Like humans, cats can suffer from a variety of ailments due to carrying too many kilos.

    The most common side-effects of being overweight are:

    1. Diabetes
    2. Heart problems
    3. Arthritis
    4. Hypertension

    Diabetes

    Type two diabetes is common in overweight and obese cats.

    Many cats indulge in carbs, but felines cannot cope with them, including the lactose in milk and other dairy products. The result is the rise of glucose in the bloodstream. Unfortunately, long periods of high blood sugar will strain a cat’s pancreas because insufficient insulin is released to manage the sugar.

    The carbs that are not immediately converted into sugar for energy are stored as fat around the feline’s body. Overweight cats and type two diabetes, consequently, often go hand in hand.

    Heart problems

    Excess weight in cats has been linked to feline cardiomyopathy, making the heart muscle incapable of pumping enough blood.

    This can result in:

    • Lethargy
    • Respiratory problems
    • Seizures
    • Paralysis of the hind legs

    Arthritis

    As a cat’s skeleton is forced to carry more weight, the joints are placed under increasing strain.

    There is no scientific proof that obesity in cats causes arthritis, but there is ample evidence to suggest that degeneration is linked to carrying too much weight.

    Arthritis is not curable and may lead to your cat losing mobility over time.

    Hypertension

    Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can occur as a result of your cat being overweight.

    The most common causes of high blood pressure in cats are diseases of the:

    • Heart
    • Thyroid
    • Kidneys

    These typically occur in older cats and can be made considerably worse if the feline is overweight.

    All these conditions are serious, as they usually cause a vicious circle—the condition often leads to lethargy, which makes the weight problem worse and exacerbates the deterioration caused by the disease.

    Weight loss vs. weight control

    If your kitty gets diagnosed as overweight, you should choose between:

    1. Weight control
    2. Weight loss

    Weight control

    Controlling your kitty’s weight so it doesn’t get any worse involves:

    The weight control programme does not need to be drastic and can involve no more than:

    • Spending more time stimulating your kitty to move
    • Changing feeding times 
    • Switching to a healthier diet

    Weight loss

    Getting your cat to lose weight is more complicated, and you may need vet supervision to make sure you don’t cause more problems than you solve.

    Getting a cat to lose weight has to be approached carefully. If your feline is forced to shed pounds rapidly by not eating, you could trigger a disease called hepatic lipidosis.

    Hepatic lipidosis occurs when a cat starts mobilising fat deposits because their food does not deliver enough energy. As the fat reserves are freed, they flood the liver, depositing fatty tissue around its surface. These fatty deposits can harm liver function permanently.

    A weight loss programme for a cat should allow up to six months for the kitty to go from obese to normal weight.

    Exercise is a major component of a weight loss program, but your vet may also prescribe supplements to support the:

    • Heart
    • Joints
    • Bloodstream

    The crucial element of a weight loss programme is the diet.

    I’m in shape. Round is a shape

    Source: Pixabay

    How can you help your cat lose weight?

    As a cat parent, you must ensure your feline loses weight healthily.

    All weight loss programmes combine:

    Stimulating your kitty to move can be difficult. Cats are not like dogs, who love nothing more than to go for long walks.

    Cats have evolved to use the minimum movement to stalk their prey—their exercise in the wild includes fast but short bursts of speed for the final kill.

    To get your cat moving, you can try the following:

    • Move your kitty’s food bowl regularly, so the next meal is always a walk away
    • Introduce set playtimes and invest in balls, feathers, toy mice, and a laser pointer
    • Play on your kitty’s curiosity by engaging in peek-a-boo games

    Perseverance is crucial—if your feline has been a couch potato for a few years, it will take time to break the lazy habits.

    While playing more actively with your cat, you must also swap to a diet that will encourage weight loss.