Tips to Help Your Cat Lose Weight

Last Updated 21 AUGUST 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle Veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever BVSc and was last updated by Dr Jacqui Victor BVSc MANZCVS (Medicine of Cats)

Although pudgy cats may seem cute and cuddly, being overweight can have a significant negative impact on your cat's health and longevity. Carrying extra weight puts strain on your feline friend's joints, makes them prone to conditions like diabetes and fatty liver disease, and ultimately shortens their lifespan.

Helping your cat lose weight may seem like a difficult task at first, but it is one of the best things you can do to keep them enjoying a happier, healthier and longer life. Remember that all good things take time, and weight loss in cats is no different. Most weight loss programs for cats aim for a loss of about 0.5% to 1% per week, so even a loss of 25g a week for a 5kg cat can be step in the right direction!

We all want our cats to live long and happy lives, so what can you do if you think yours might be overweight? To help you get started, we've written a helpful guide with tips on diet, exercise, and more!

1. How To Tell if Your Cat is Overweight

2. Diet - Which is Best for Weight Loss?

3. Encourage An Active Lifestyle

4. Make them Work for their Food

5. Choose the Right Light Treats

1. How to Tell if Your Cat is Overweight

Sometimes a fluffy coat can mask the secret pudge underneath, however signs your cat could be overweight include:

  • Sagging belly
  • Large 'pouch' under abdomen
  • Loss of obvious waist
  • Unable to feel ribs
  • Reduced activity and sleeping more

Body Condition Scoring your cat is a simple way to assess if they are overweight, and more accuretly reflects the amount of fat coverage than the number on the scales. Have a go at performing a body condition score on your cat at home using our Body Condition Score Chart. A cat at an ideal body weight will have a body condition score of 4 or 5 (out of 9), and if your cat scores a 6 or more, then some weight loss would be beneficial. Your treating vet will be able to confirm your cat's body condition score for you.

2. Talk to Your Vet About the Right Diet

If you think that your cat may be overweight, you should seek advice from your veterinarian. They may recommend a special prescription diet like Hill's Metabolic Weight Management or Royal Canin Satiety as part of a weight loss program. It is important to remember that prescription diets are only used under the direct instruction of your pet's veterinarian.

When feeding a weight loss diet it is crucial to stick to the amount recommended by your veterinarian. Even an extra ten pieces of kibble a day can cause a cat to gain an extra half a kilo of fat over a year!

Our Top Vet-Recommended Weight Loss Diets for Cats

Royal Canin Satiety

Royal Canin Satiety is formulated specifically to 'satiate' your cat's appetite. It's the perfect option if your kitty never seems to feel full.

Hills Metabolic Weight Management

Including wet food into your cat's diet can help provide variety. Hills Metabolic Wet Food is formulated for weight loss and is highly palatable.

Hills Metabolic + Urinary Stress

The perfect option for kitties who also suffer from urinary issues or stress, Hills Metabolic and Urinary Stress contains L-tryptophan, the precursor to 'happy hormone' serotonin.

Royal Canin Weight Balance

Specifically designed for neutered cats, these tasty pouches are low in calories and highly palatable.

3. Encourage Activity

Increasing your cat's activity will help to burn off some of their energy and kick-start their metabolism. Schedule in at least two 10 minute play sessions with them every day. Not only will your cat benefit from getting moving, but they will love the one-on-one time with you! Make sure to have plenty of interactive toys around to help keep them moving, and you can even teach them to walk on a lead to burn some calories whilst exploring the great outdoors!

The Best Toys for Overweight Cats:

Catit Senses Super Roller Circuit

Ideal for keeping home alone cats busy, the Catit Senses Wave Circuit is interactive and will keep any indoor cat entertained for hours.

Frolicat Bolt

This interactive Laser toy provides a moving laser spot for endless fun and chasies.

AFP Flutterbug

Cats go crazy for this butterfly toy, which provides natural and unpredictable movements.

Go Cat Go Teaser Snakey

Teasers can help your cat exercise their body and mind. The fluffy streamers help stimulate natural instincts and encourage play.

4. Make Your Cat Forage and Work for Their Food

Luigi loves forraging for goodies in his furbulous Paws for Life Rainbow Snuffle Mat.

If your cat is constantly begging for food and then gobbles up their meal in 5 seconds, you may want to reconsider your feeding method. Using a puzzle feeder is a great way to help slow down your cat's speed of eating and help them feel fuller for longer. These toys also help to keep your cat mentally stimulated and physically active.

The Best Puzzle Feeders for Overweight Cats:

5. Treat Them the Right Way

Even a small amount of treats can send your cat's weight loss program off the rails. But that doesn't mean your kitty cat has to miss out on their favourite nibblets. There are plenty of ways to 'treat' your cat without adding to their calorie load.

Kibble for Thought

As an alternative to high calorie treats or human food, you could set aside a few of your cat's kibble every day as a 'treat ration' or use non-food rewards like a scratch behind the ear or some extra playtime.

Add Fibre to the Diet

If you cat still seems hungry, you can trick their tummy into feeling 'full' by adding a little extra fibre to their food. This helps 'plump' up the meal and leaves them feeling fuller and more satisfied. You can feed them some soft, mushy cooked zucchini or sprinkle some natural, unflavoured psyllium husk onto their food.

Low Fat Cat Treats

Of course, you might also like to purchase some tasty low-calorie treats. Our top suggestions include: Greenies and Vetalogica Natural Treats.

Avoid Human Foods

Be especially careful of human food, as the calorie load is a lot more significant to your cat's tiny body. For example, 1 cup of milk might not seem like much to us, but for a 5 kg cat 1 cup of whole milk is the equivalent of three hamburgers to an average sized woman! For more treat conversions, check out this great chart from Hills Pet Care:

Further Reading

Pet Obesity Facts

Body Condition Scoring Your Pet

Games To Play With Your Cat

Benefits of Puzzle Feeders

Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Lead

Joint Care For Cats