The Best Dry Cat Foods For Weight Loss

High protein, low calorie cat foods are essential to maintaining a healthy weight. With proper portioning, we found Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free Natural to be the best balanced weight loss cat food.

Cat In A Bowl

The transition from kitten to adult cat and through to senior comes with necessary dietary amendments to ensure your cat remains at a healthy weight. Because a majority of cat owners continue to feed their cat the same food throughout their adult life, obesity in adult cats is quite a common issue.

While researching the topic of reducing obesity in cats, we found that Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free Natural is the best cat food for weight loss. In most cases, a change of routine along with feeding habits can benefit your overweight cat and guide them back to a healthy weight.

We’ve pulled together a list of tips and tricks below to help you manage your cat’s weight and give them the best chance of losing a few pounds. First up, let us take a look at what the market has to offer in terms of food choice.

Comparing The Best Diet Cat Food

ImageNameProteinCalories/Cup
Instinct Ultimate Protein Natural47%490 kCal
BLUE Wilderness High Protein36%396 kCal
Natural Balance Fat Cats Formula35%305 kCal
BLUE Freedom Grain Free32%332 kCal
NUTRO MAX Indoor Cat30%370 kCal
Hills Science Diet Light33%315 kCal

The cat foods listed above all contain a high level of protein and a low level of carbohydrates. This balance ensures your cat gets the nutrition they need without the added weight gain.

Felines don’t require any carbohydrates in their diet, they evolved to survive off a high protein diet.

Because some foods are much more calorie dense, appropriate portion sizes should be researched and adhered to when feeding your cat.

The Best Cat Food For Weight Loss

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of each of our top rated cat weight loss foods. We’ve listed the appropriate portion sizes for a few to give you a rough idea of how much you should be feeding. Below is a list of the best cat foods for overweight cats that are guaranteed to help your cat lose weight in a fast, but controllable way.

Instinct Ultimate Protein Natural

Instinct’s Ultimate Protein cat food is an absolute standout contender for the title of best cat food for weight loss.

Totally grain free, this dry food avoids bloating with cats with unnecessary cereals and other non meat fillers. With 95% or more of the protein content coming from real chicken, you can rest assured that your cat is getting all the nutrition they need.

If you’re not sure on what to look for in weight loss cat food, don’t worry. We’ll get to that part later, for now you’ll just have to trust us when we say that a minimum of 47% protein is absolutely outstanding.

Because of the high amount of real meat, cats love this food. We’re yet to see a cat attack a dish full of dry food with such eagerness to eat, and as a result, free feeding is definitely not the best option here. Be sure to limit feeding appropriately.

It’s a little heavy on calories per cup (490-ish) compared to other cat foods on this list, which seems counter productive, but the feeding amounts should be smaller.

The super high protein content ensures your cat gets the best nutrition and feel fulls and satisfied despite the smaller portion size.

While ideal feeding amounts vary from cat to cat, Instinct recommend that cats trying to lose weight should abide by the following amounts per day (8oz dry measure cup):

WeightAmount
5 lbs1/4 Cup
10 lbs3/8 Cup
15 lbs1/2 Cup

It goes without saying that the amounts above are just guidelines, you should start there and alter accordingly if you see no change in your cat’s weight.

Check out the huge number of positive reviews and owner’s accounts of cat weight loss as a result of this food by clicking the button above.

BLUE Wilderness High Protein

It’s hardly a secret that we love BLUE wilderness dry cat food. This weight control chicken variety is no different.

The mixture of high quality, protein-rich, delicious de-boned chicken and grain free kibble makes it one of the best meals available for cats who need to lose a weight. Taurine and other essential vitamins provide big health benefits that can’t be found in cheap cat food.

BLUE Wilderness recommend that you ease your cat gradually onto the food (most manufacturers recommend something similar). Start by mixing about 25% of BLUE dry cat food with the existing food and gradually increase the proportion from there. This should help to make the transition as seamless as possible from your cat’s point of view.

At just under 400 kcals/cup (396) it’s a super impressive balance of weight loss and adequate nutrition, something that other brands often struggle to get right.

Cats will also welcome a little warm water mixed with this dry food, as it will help to fully release the flavors and aromas.

Natural Balance Fat Cats Formula

Natural Balance aren’t the most well known brand out there, and admittedly the packaging looks like it’s straight out of a 1980s washing up powder advert. But take a look beneath that and you’ll find a high quality, low calorie cat food that’s suited perfectly to solving the problem of obesity in cats.

Boasting an incredibly low 305 kcal/cup, it’s one of the lowest calorie cat foods available today. Containing a minimum of 35% protein and 0.15% taurine, it offers all the best benefits that you see in more expensive options from better established brands.

You can find helpful portion size guidelines specifically for Natural Balance cat food over at Natural Balance’s website under the Feeding Guidelines tab, abiding by these will give you the best results.

Grain free and made in the US, the quality is outstanding. There are some reviews that claim it’s a little too powdery (crumbles easily), though this is likely down to a lack of complex carbohydrates (that’s a good thing) to glue the stuff together. It’s a small price to pay for a weight loss cat food that really works.

BLUE Freedom Grain Free

Again we find ourselves raving over a BLUE cat food. We’ve even already reviewed this grain free adult cat food over at our post regarding dry cat food. But looking at it from a weight loss perspective, we’ll elaborate on why we love it so much.

Despite not being marketed as a diet cat food, it’s remarkable balance of nutrition and calories make it ideal for overweight cats. It contains only 332 kcal/cup which is lower than some of the other weight loss cat foods on this list.

BLUE are well known for using only the best and highest quality ingredients in their cat foods, and there’s no exception here.

High levels of natural protein and fiber means cats stay feeling full while moving towards a healthy weight.

The TRUE BLUE Promise gives you peace of mind that their products contain:

  • Real protein-rich chicken
  • No by-product meals
  • No artificial colors or preservatives
  • No corn, wheat or soy!

The manufacturers offer a large range of different formulas, each designed around the needs of cats of different ages. Take a look using the button above to find out more.

NUTRO MAX Indoor Cat

NUTRO Max is a cheap dry cat food formulated for weight control in adult cats. While we usually tend to recommend against going for the cheaper option when it comes to feeding your beloved kitty, the quality ingredients here offer very good value for money.

Most cheap cat foods offer poor quality by-product meal that’s made up of meat that isn’t suitable for human consumption. You wouldn’t want to feed that to your cat, so it’s a good job NUTRO’s ingredients contain natural, real meat that you’d be happy to eat yourself.

It contains a minimum of 30% protein, which is slightly lower than the best on our list but still an acceptable amount.

We’ll talk in much more depth about the importance of protein further down, but the gist is that it helps cats retain muscle while losing weight. Important stuff.

Packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, you get a majority of the health benefits seen in the more expensive options without the hefty price tag. It contains around 370 kcal/cup which is a reasonable amount. The best amount to feed your cat to lose weight can be seen in the table below:

WeightAmount
4 lbs1/4 Cup
8 lbs1/2 Cup
12 lbs2/3 Cup
16 lbs3/4 Cup
20 lbs1 Cup

One of the best cheap weight loss cat foods around, we’d highly recommend anyone on a tight budget gives this a try before opting for a more expensive food.

Hills Science Diet Light

Hill’s Science Diet cat food is precisely balanced for a healthy lifestyle. It contains roughly 315 kcal/cup which is an impressive 21% less calories than their regular option.

Boasting a high protein (33%) content with ample fiber, it provides your cat with the meal they need to feel full while they lose weight. It contains no artificial flavors or preservatives and only ingredients from the best sources available.

Vitamins E + C help support a healthy immune system, while taurine and omega acids help combat other health issues such as loss of eyesight and liver troubles.

Created with digestibility in mind, the quality ingredients means that you’ll see no litter box issues (something that can often be a problem with even the best weight loss foods!).

Litter box issues are often seen when changes are made to your cat’s diet. This is why most cat food manufacturers recommend you gradually introduce a new food.

It’s a great all rounder, a reasonable price and plenty of nutrition. It doesn’t quite beat the best options on our list, but as different cats have different tastes, this is a perfectly viable weight loss food that you should consider trying.

Does Your Cat Weigh Too Much?

Low Calorie Cat Food

A surprising amount of cat owners aren’t aware of what the healthy weight ranges are for adult cats. For most domestic cats, that range is between 8 and 10 pounds. According to the APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) it’s estimated that 59% of cats are overweight or obese.

Different breeds have different ranges, so it’s important that you do your research into what constitutes a healthy weight for your cat (Maine Coon cats can be fine up to 25 pounds!).

A cat is usually described as obese if it’s body-weight is more than 20 percent above the ideal level. Thinking in terms of percentages can really make the problem hit home. It’s easy for us as humans to dismiss a few extra pounds as nothing serious, but an extra 2 pounds on a cat is the equivalent of a staggering 28 pounds on a 140-pound human. Imagine the feeling of carrying around all that extra weight just walking around, let alone jumping and running!

Your first step should be to weigh your cat if you’re concerned about their weight. It’s the best way to be sure whether or not you need to move them onto a weight loss cat food to help them return to a healthy weight.

Short of weighing or taking your cat to the vet, there are some telltale signs that should be obvious just by looking at them. If your cat does not have a clear and visible waist/hip structure, or a stomach that hangs downwards then it’s likely that they’re a little overweight at best.

Health Risks for Overweight Cats

The health risks for overweight cats can be extremely serious. Diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, arthritis and in extreme cases even cancer. Hopefully this hammers home the importance of the food you choose and it’s effect on your cat’s health.

High blood pressure is a common issue in pets and can be exaggerated by obesity, leading to increased risk of organ damage or even loss of eyesight. Eyesight damage is caused by damage to the retina due to hypertension.

Arthritis levels in overweight cats are 3-5 times that of cats that stay within a healthy weight range. This causes discomfort for them while jumping or landing and can lead them to become sedentary and lame.

Overweight cats are also subject to extra precautions when it comes to surgery or anesthetizing. An obese cat would take longer to recover from anesthesia meaning some vets may be reluctant to perform surgery that would otherwise be routine on a normal sized cat.

Just as with humans, a cat that maintains a healthy weight will live a longer, more fulfilling life than an overweight cat.

Obesity affects your cat’s joint health and as a result can severely impact their mobility. Lowered mobility leads to less rigorous exercise and the cat becomes prone to adding on even more weight. It’s very easy for a cat’s weight to spiral out of control if you do not control their diet.

Why Your Cat Could Be Overweight

Food For Overweight Cats

The biggest cause of obesity in cats is reckless overfeeding. The practice of free feeding makes food available to cats 24/7, and they can’t necessarily be trusted to manage their own intake. This is especially a problem for indoor cats, since their diets often need to be adjusted to account for the lowered activity levels of a life indoors.

In rarer cases, the cat may have a medical condition that predisposes them to obesity, if you think this applies to your cat, it’s best to visit a vet and get them checked.

Obesity is more common in older cats because of the natural decrease in the cat’s exercise. While the decreased activity is a natural process, being fed them the same quantity of food as when they were active is not.

You should tailor your cat’s diet to their lifestyle and age to help them remain a healthy weight.

An average cat only needs about 200 calories each day, so regular overfeeding alongside treats and human food can cause weight issues very quickly. Food that contains a lot of carbohydrates is likely to lead to weight gain, since it is rich in calories and is not a natural part of a cat’s diet.

Treats are a huge contributor to weight gain in cats due to their high calorie content. We recommend asking your vet during your next visit about the best course of action for supplying treats in a responsible manner.

Remember that cats don’t feed themselves. You are responsible for ensuring they get the correct portion sizes for their weight and lifestyle.

Tips for Helping a Cat Lose Weight

Weight Control Cat Food

Portion sizes

Monitor portion sizes and adjust them according to how your cat’s weight changes. If they continue to gain weight, it’s best to lower it slowly until their weight becomes more manageable.

We’ve listed the recommended portion sizes for the best weight loss results for a few of the cat foods above. Since all of the recommended foods above are between the range of 300-400 kcals/cup, you can use those as a guide for any cat food with a similar calorie content to get the best results.

If you’re someone who’s used to free-feeding your cat (leaving food out for them to eat whenever they want) then you should look to change that habit. If you are out of the house a lot, you can make use of an automatic feeder that will dispense food at a certain set time. This should prevent overfeeding while ensuring they get fed at an appropriate time of day.

Interactive feeding

Consider utilizing an interactive feeder to make meal times more of a challenge. While it may seem like an annoyance, cats need both mental and physical stimulation, so making them work for their food can provide them with both.

It should also slow them down a bit, leading them to feel more full from a meal rather than scoffing it all down in a matter of seconds.

Extra activity

Play with your cat. There are plenty of exciting and engaging toys out there that you can enjoy with your cat and keep them active and moving in the process. You should aim to get them moving and chasing for between 20 to 30 minutes each day.

If time is a little short and you can’t provide them with that engagement every day, look for options that will let them entertain themselves. Most cat furniture for homes come with toys that cats can use to keep themselves entertained, though it shouldn’t serve as a complete replacement for human interaction.

What to Look for in Weight Loss Cat Food

The most important factor to consider in a cat’s diet is the role that carbohydrates play. Carbohydrates are typically used in cat foods to pack them out, glue kibble together and make the food go a little further. To achieve this, they sacrifice the protein content in the food, something that is vital to cats.

I’ve said this a million times before, but I’ll say it again just in-case you’ve missed it. Cats have absolutely no need for carbohydrates in their diets.

Carbohydrates aren’t necessarily bad, but if they aren’t a necessary ingredient then you shouldn’t be sacrificing protein just to include them.

It’s best to look for low carb, high protein cat foods to give your cat the best chance of losing weight.

Cat’s naturally survive off a diet that’s almost entirely protein. In the wild, the only carbohydrates they consume would be the stomach contents of their prey (not a nice picture, I know!).


A diet that contains too many carbohydrates and not enough protein leads to a loss in lean muscle, which in turn reduces the metabolic rate of your cat, and leads to further weight gain if their diet isn’t adjusted to account for the change. I’m sure you can see how this spirals out of control.

The best weight loss foods in our list feature high quality protein in quantities of 35% or more. This is crucial, since it means that cats are getting enough protein to maintain muscle while they’re losing the extra fat.

While you may hear recommendations for high-fiber diets, these are again sacrificing the vital protein that allows cats to retain muscle mass. They may seem effective in the short term, but a loss of muscle mass will almost always lead to them either not losing fat, or regaining it very quickly when you return their calorie intake to a maintenance level.

Getting Your Cat Onto A Diet Cat Food

Diet Cat Food

Start by getting your cat seen by a vet. They’ll be able to weigh your cat accurately, and let you know how much weight they need to shift to get to a healthy weight once again. A vet will also be able to identify any medical conditions that should influence your choice when choosing a suitable weight loss cat food.

Remember that cats are fussy and a sudden swap from glorious rich food to a weight loss food might not be the best way to go about it. Most manufacturers recommend you gradually introduce your cat to weight loss foods by mixing them in with their current diet.

You can start as low as a 15% mix of the new low calorie cat food with the food they currently eat, and gradually up that over a period of two weeks or so. This makes the transition as seamless as possible from the cat’s point of view, and removes the risk of them flat out rejecting the new food.

Gradually moving onto the same quantity of a lower calorie cat food is the best practice because it avoids the temptation to drastically reduce the amount of food you give your cat. Starvation diets are extremely dangerous for felines as they require a fully nutritious diet to avoid illnesses like hepatic lipidosis. Hepatic lipidosis is a liver disease that cats are especially prone to, so making sure they eat a nutritious meal should be your primary concern.

Be prepared for some potential litter-box troubles when swapping to a low-calorie weight loss food. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the food you’ve chosen is of a low quality, it can happen with some of the best weight loss foods as cat’s digestive systems adapt. If you have an indoor cat, we’d suggest you look at getting some clumping cat litter if you haven’t already, since it really helps to mask any nasty odors.

Stop free feeding, and set a specific meal time that you control. Don’t leave food lying around for them to snack on and limit treats so that they make up less than 10% of the cat’s daily calorie intake.