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:
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.
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
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
Grades one to three
Grades four to five
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
Grades eight and nine
I’m a perfect 10, me
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
- 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:
- High in protein
- Low in carbs
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:
- Animal protein
- Animal fat
Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of:
- Skin and coat
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:
Tuna, salmon, sardines, or prawn
Beef and pork or ham
Wheatgerm, corn, sweetcorn, and other vegetable proteins
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
Fat is a viable 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, 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
The best ingredient lists are:
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
The guaranteed analysis of a diet tells you how much of each nutrient group is in the product.
By law, manufacturers have to list:
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:
50% or more
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 protein 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-formulated 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—All our recipes have been specifically formulated to be minimally processed and free from common allergens
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 cat food trial pack online for your kitty to taste. Here’s how it works:
- Visit our Try Now page
- Tell us more about your cat
- Select a meal plan and place your order
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 set up a customised cat food subscription with us.
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:
- Heart problems
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.
Excess weight in cats has been linked to feline cardiomyopathy, making the heart muscle incapable of pumping enough blood.
This can result in:
- Respiratory problems
- Paralysis of the hind legs
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, 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:
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:
- Weight control
- Weight loss
Controlling your kitty’s weight so it doesn’t get any worse involves:
- Limiting the calories the feline takes
- Increasing the cat’s activity levels through play
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
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:
The crucial element of a weight loss programme is the diet.
I’m in shape. Round is a shape
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:
- More movement
- Smaller amounts of healthier food
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.