Best Dry Food For Overweight Cats - Buyers Guide
This content has been reviewed and approved by our in-house Veterinarian for accuracy
There isn’t anything wrong with a little extra weight to love on your cat, but I’ll bet if you knew the consequences of that extra weight, you’d help your cat lose a little bit of it.
Not only can being overweight limit your cat’s mobility, but it’s very hard on their joints and organs, too, causing premature wear and tear.
The ‘how’ about cat obesity is pretty simple. It’s the same for humans. If your cat takes in more calories than they put out over some length of time, they’ll start putting on weight. Other conditions like hypothyroidism can be the culprit at other times.
Neutered cats are at a higher risk of becoming overweight because their metabolism slows down by (a max of) about 20%. You can probably already guess that if your cat is an indoor cat, they’re even more at risk of packing on the pounds.It’s no wonder why we thought it important to help you decide on the best dry food for your overweight cat.
But, being neutered and/or being an indoor cat doesn’t guarantee that your cat will become chubby. Like with people, each cat’s resting metabolism and energy levels are different.
If your cat is like a Tasmanian Devil, full of energy, you probably don’t have to worry. If your cat prefers couch surfing over playing, just keep an eye out as they age for signs of unhealthy weight gain.
There are medications, too, that can make your cat susceptible to obesity. One major culprit is corticosteroids--either by ramping up your cat’s appetite and/or slowing down their little metabolism.
We’ve spent more than a few hours researching the causes, treatments, and details about overweight cats and their lifestyle needs so that we can help you choose a dry food that’s right for your cat.
Specifically, we spent eight hours scavenging facts, nutrition labels, reviews, company websites, and testimonials.
The food that has proven to help take your cat’s weight off as effectively and safely as possible is Purina's DM Dietetic Management Feline Formula. It’s a prescription food that doesn’t require a prescription at every store.
Since it’s technically a treatment, we do advise at least running it by your vet before feeding your cat the food. They can really help you with finding a healthy schedule for your cat to lose weight on.
If your cat loses too much weight too soon, they’re at risk for hepatic lipidosis, a deadly liver disease. Fat deposits in the liver because of metabolic changes during periods of fasting. So...check with your vet!
Why You Should Trust Our Review
Like I mentioned above, we spent a full work day educating ourselves further on this topic. We first looked at why cats become overweight. Then we learned how it physically and mentally affects them.
After that, we were able to learn about what types of nutrition plans are most effective and safe for your cat.
We’ll get to the food part soon, but first I want to stress how important it is to go into the task of helping your cat lose weight with a professional guide like your vet. There are a lot of reasons your cat could be overweight, and there are a lot of ways to help them lose it.
We just don’t want you to mistake this buying guide for a medical guide.
What Features Did We Look For
- Brand credibility - With diet cat food, we don’t want to take any chances with unheard of companies. You’re talking about restricting your cat’s calories. That’s not something you want to take a chance on with a company who has a bad rep or none at all. Each cat food company on this list has been vetted and researched. If you haven’t heard of all of them, you at least have a friend who has.
- Nutrition - Of course we looked at the nutrition label! How could we make any recommendations otherwise? We ensured that each of these foods’ nutrition ratios meet the needs of an overweight cat looking to lose weight. We definitely don’t want any major carb meals over here. While high-protein diets are sometimes recommended for chubby cats, we didn’t include them here. A specifically high-protein diet is something totally different than a weight control diet even though they overlap, so we didn’t want to confuse the two. True high-protein diets are usually achieved by feeding wet food anyway, which doesn’t apply to this list.
- Reviews - Reviews on cat food are most helpful because we get to learn how other obese cat’s reacted to each type of food. Of course, every single cat reacts differently to each and every thing. But, if there’s a common denominator, we want to know about it. And, now we do!
- Calories - Again, we can’t have overweight cats eating food that’s going to help them put on more weight. The calorie requirements for each cat depend on a number of factors unique to your cat, but overall, we made sure these foods weren’t going to be counterproductive to your cat’s weight loss goals. If a food claims to be for weight loss, it should generally have less calories per cup than other foods.
- Safety - Losing weight too fast is super dangerous for a cat. Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver) is fatal, but it can be treated if you talk to your vet. You’ll want to do whatever you can to avoid the fatty liver deposits. The treatment for it can be intense though involving IV fluids and a feeding tube. Yeah...no. We refuse to recommend anything that looks too light on calories or nutrition. That’s not cool either.
- Price - Price was a factor when choosing these foods, but luckily they’re all in the same ballpark...give or take $30. There are plenty of cheaper options for weight control, but we erred on the side of quality over price. But, with results as the main priority, we didn’t have to make any difficult exclusion decisions based on price for this list. Woo!
Who is This Dry Cat Food For?
We compiled this list for cat parents of overweight cats. Cats are considered overweight if they weigh anywhere between 10-20% more than their healthy body weight, and they’re considered obese if it’s anything over 20%.
This list is for those of you who are shaking your head yes right now. If you without having to check that your cat is overweight or obese, you’re right. This list is for you.
Although weight problems and diabetes go hand in hand, this article is NOT addressing diabetes and shouldn’t be perceived as such.
There are different things to be considered and different nutritional requirements for diabetes. Plus, that’s a whole medical condition separate from being a plain ole’ overweight cat.This list isn’t really for those who are looking for weight management either. While some of these foods might be absolutely perfect for your cat’s weight management, we can’t attest to it because we looked specifically for the best weight loss foods.
How We Choose Our Products
We spent numerous hours researching before we even looked at the first cat food. After we felt equipped with the information we needed, we looked online at Amazon, Walmart, and Chewy. We ventured out to Petco and Petsmart, too.
We didn’t forget the small pet stores either, but they didn’t have anything new to offer in this area besides extra reviews. After we chose about ten foods, we started looking at what each type was intended for and what the results ended up being.
We found that a lot of foods with the word “weight” on it were geared specifically toward weight loss while the foods that said “indoor” typically helped with weight maintenance. That’s by no means true for all cat food, but it’s a trend I find worth mentioning.
We eliminated the managing types of food and stuck with the loss types. Details are everything, peeps. We chose the ones that were raved about to have the best results with the nutrition quality to match.
Our Top Choice - Purina Veterinary Diets DM Dietetic Management Feline Formula Dry Cat Food
Purina's DM Dietetic Management Feline Formula dry food is a prescription dry food that’s created with the intention of helping your cat lose weight, manage diabetes, and protect your cat's urinary system. That’s a tall order, but Purina delivers.
The nutrition label boasts high protein, low carbs, and low fat. The nutritional balance is supposed to help your cat keep their glucose levels in a healthy range, too.
Your cat will get omega-3’s and omega-6’s, so if you supplement currently, it might be helpful to check the total daily amount they’ll be getting to make sure you won’t be overloading them with healthy fats. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing!
It’s quite the confusing conundrum, but this food requires a prescription only for some stores. It is officially a prescription diet though. Purina says that the food is effective in maintaining a healthy blood glucose level, but diabetic cat parents say it has too many carbs to be a diabetic food. Like I mentioned earlier, we won’t talk about diabetic nutritional requirements on this list, but they are indeed different.
We won’t get into the specifics since we aren’t vets, but if your cat is diabetic, check with your vet before using this food.
Premium Pick - Hill’s Prescription DIet Feline Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution Dry Cat Food
Another prescription food, Hill's Prescription Diet Feline Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution works with your cat’s metabolism to help them lose weight and keep it off. It fights against regaining by keeping your cat heartily full. Everyone who loved this food says their cat had more energy than before. Plus, the claim that you can see visible weight loss in under two months...is true.
There were a sparse amount of customers who weren’t sold on the food. While some cats wouldn’t touch the stuff, others ate the food easily. But, some still didn’t lose weight.
That was a small number of people, but it’s important to mention. Others complained that the food can be tough to get a hold of, and that became evident when the price changed three times within one hour on Amazon (down, up, down).
That usually means sellers are having to adjust prices based on procurement difficulties and demand.
Budget Friendly - Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Weight Management Adult Dry Cat Food
Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Weight Management dry food is a fabulous option on a budget. It really competes with the rest on the list, only with a lower price tag.
Chicken is the first ingredient, and it has 46% protein with less fat than their other types of food. The formula also contains prebiotic to introduce healthy bacteria to your cat’s gut, which is very, very important. Our gut is responsible for our immune system and so much more within our bodies.
Happy customers reported their cat’s struvite crystals disappeared after starting Pro Plan FOCUS even though they’ve had the crystals for years and years. Plus, the vast majority of cats reportedly couldn’t stay away from this stuff! That’s a double win in our opinion.
Low-rated reviews were unanimous in saying that this food isn’t for cats with sensitive stomachs. As is usual, sensitive tummies seemed to coincide with hairballs, so some cats experienced increased hairballs.
Cats who are currently spoiled for table food and other goodies had a hard time with the adjustment to their new “diet” food. Others could care less as long as there was food to eat. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Other Choice: Nutro Wholesome Essentials Weight Management Dry Cat Food
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Weight Management dry food is something of a hidden gem. It’s not all that much more expensive than our budget pick, but it offers farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient with non-GMO ingredients.
I’d like to remind everyone that GMOs aren’t always a bad or scary thing, but sometimes it can be best to avoid them if you’re unsure about the company or source of produce.
Cat parents said their cats don’t overeat this food, but they do love it a lot. People who use Nutro seem to always use Nutro. Even the customers who switched to this weight management formula came from one of Nutro’s other formulas.
One or two people said their cat had a little bit of constipation with the transition and first few weeks of the food. It really was a rare comment, but keep an eye out.Since there is no miracle food that we’ve found yet, not every cat loved the taste. Others didn’t seem totally full after their meals at first. These two complaints aren’t unique to this food.
Other Choice: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free
Blue Buffalo’s High Protein Grain Free cat food doesn't advertise the words ‘diet’ or ‘weight’ on its packaging, but it is a healthy choice for weight management of young and middle aged indoor cats.
It has high protein to keep your cat full and energized, but low fat and carbs to help keep the calories--and pounds--off. Blue Wilderness has something they call lifesource bits which is their vet-formulated blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Blue Buffalo doesn’t claim to melt the pounds away like Hill’s does, but it effectively (very effectively) maintains a cat’s weight. With no byproduct meals, corn, wheat, or soy, it’s a fav choice for many cat owners.
A few people reported their cat had a terrible reaction to this food, including but not limited to vomiting and vet trips. Someone speculated that it was the anti-hairball ingredient.
Something we want to mention is that it may be the storage and shipping of the food that’s the problem. Cat parents’ packages sometimes arrived opened or expired! Wild, right?
I know. It happens. Keep a major eye out on your packages and their integrity. If your food looks well intact but your cat is still getting ill, discontinue the food immediately.
Better safe than sorry!Don’t forget, this food isn’t for active weight loss. It’s for weight maintenance. 🙂
Care and Maintenance
You should always check the integrity of your food packages. It’s a smart idea, too, to check the actual contents of the bag to make sure it isn’t rotting or infested with bugs (yuck, but it happens).
Beyond that, take your cat for regular weigh-ins to make sure they’re on track to meet their goal. You’re not checking only to make sure they’re losing. You’re also checking to make sure they’re not losing too fast.
When you transition to your new diet food, do it slowly. Restricting your cat’s calories overnight is not a good idea! Take your time and follow your vet’s instructions.
It can take over a year for cats to reach their target weight sometimes. There’s no rush, so let your cat lean into their diet change. Suddenly waking up one day to a completely new diet and a new routine won't just be physically taxing on your cat, it’ll be psychologically stressful, too.
And we know how cats feel about stress.
Answers to Common Questions
Q: How do I know what food is best for my cat?
A: It depends on your cat’s unique situation, budget, and preferences. The first four foods we’ve listed are for cats who are actively trying to lose weight, and the last one is for maintenance.
Also, it’ll depend on how your cat does with that specific food. Don’t forget taste preference either.
Q: Should I feed my overweight cat wet or dry food?
A: That’s 100% between you and your vet. Dry and wet food each have their own specific purpose and benefits. Your vet can help you decide what’s best.
Every cat will need something a little different from the next.
An example of a feeding schedule that a lot of people use is giving your cat canned cat food for their meals and a very sparse amount of dry food to nibble on throughout the day.
Like I said, that’s just one of a million feeding schedules that could be right for your cat. If I could tell you which one to use, I would!
Q: Can I give my cat treats?
A: If your cat is diabetic, that’s a question for your veterinarian. In the case of a diabetic cat, treats could throw off their blood sugar levels.
If they aren’t diabetic, that’s up to you. It might be counterproductive to your goal, but everyone deserves a little treat every now and then!
Some say it’s fine as long as treats only comprise 10% of your cat’s diet. That sounds kind of high, but hey. To each his own.
Lean, cooked meat like chicken is a great treat if you’re going to indulge.
Q: Is it even that big of a deal that my cat is a little chubby?
A: Yeah. It is. There’s no shame in harboring a little chub--I know I do!
But, being overweight is totally not fun for your cat. They struggle with mobility, balance, breathing, and many other things. It wouldn’t be providing your cat with quality of life to allow them to be overweight and not try to do anything about it.
They deserve to be fully mobile, healthy, and happy!
Q: My cat’s weight is fine right now, but they’re an indoor cat. Should I be proactive?
A: Sure, it’s your call. If you know your cat is on the extra lazy side then it wouldn’t hurt to put them on an indoor weight control formula once they’re past the adolescent/early adult phase of their cat life.
Q: What if my cat doesn’t lose any weight?
A: You might need to consult your vet again and try another food! Kitty exercise is a good thing to try, too, because it’ll help get your cat’s metabolism going. Toys are the best way to engage your cat and get them physical.
Q: Are these specifically for cats with diabetes, too?
A: While some of these foods claim to help diabetic cats, we can’t and won’t speak on the details about that side of the topic in this article.
If your cat has diabetes, you probably know what nutrition levels you need to look out for. For example, something with less than 4% carbohydrates. Take a look and make sure the food you choose is not going to be harmful to your diabetic cat.
Your vet will be able to guide you best.
Your brain is probably spinning from all of the information you’ve just read, but don’t worry! You got this. You’re your cat’s best ally, and you know what steps to take to make sure your furry friend’s life is long, happy, and healthy.
We’ve found that Purina's DM Dietetic Management Feline Formula is the most effective dry food to help your overweight cat shed those pounds. Others came close, but Purina still takes the win.
Do you have experience with helping a cat lose weight? What did you do? What’d you feed them? How did you feed them? When? Why? Give me all of the details!
I’m itching to know. Tell us about it in the comments below, and don’t forget to give that kitty some exercise!
Sources:Obesity in Cats - https://icatcare.org/advice/obesity-in-cats/
Whitney is a south Louisiana native who stopped fishing after she got her first pet fish. Her love of animals only grew stronger as her family began to have room for other friends like birds, cats, dogs, horses, and…a few more cats. She has experience handling a pet problem or two, and she spends her days either talking or typing about it. If you have any fun pet stories to tell, you can write to her at @WriteWhitney