Everyone knows that maintaining a healthy weight is a key part of your feline living a long and healthy life. But, it is not uncommon for cats to struggle with their weight, especially if they live indoors. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 60% of cats were classified as overweight, and that statistic is only rising. If your feline friend needs to lose weight, a change in diet and increasing activity are two of the major ways that go about decreasing your cat’s weight. Diet cat food can be a great option for cat owners with overweight cats. If you have other pets living in your household, such as a dog, consider putting them on a diet food at the same time, and check out our list of best diet food options for dogs.
For more cat and dog food options, take a look at our informative pet food and treats posts.
Not all cat foods are made equal, however. On our search for the best diet cat foods on the market, we reviewed dozen of products. We looked at features such as taste, calorie count, ingredients, nutritional completeness, and customer reviews when rating each product.
If your cat is having trouble eating food and you’ve recently moved, read our vet advice on how to get a cat to eat.
Blue Buffalo Weight Control for Adult Cats easily pushed its way to the top of our list as the best diet cat food available on the market. It is made with only wholesome ingredients like whole grains and veggies, with no chicken by-product meal. Plus, this food is extremely palatable and tasty for cats, a feature that many diet cat foods don’t have.
The 5 Top-Rated Diet Cat Foods
|Our Vet’s Top Pick||Blue Buffalo Weight Control for Adult Cats||4.4|
|Runner Up||Hill’s Science Diet Cat Food for Healthy Weight and Weight Management||4.3|
|Best Budget Buy||IAMS Proactive Health Cat Food||4.5|
|Best Dry Diet Cat Food||BLUE Wilderness Weight Control Cat Food||4.5|
|Best Wet Diet Cat Food||Hill’s Science Diet Wet Cat Food for Perfect Weight||4.3|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Vet’s Top Pick: Blue Buffalo Weight Control for Adult Cats
Blue Buffalo Weight Control for Adult Cats is made with only the finest ingredients and is enhanced with necessary vitamins and minerals to provide your feline with optimal nutrition. While many diet cat foods achieve their diet status by getting rid of key nutritional components, this cat food by Blue Buffalo allows for weight loss without cutting corners on nutrition. Containing only whole meat, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables, this cat food avoids many of the synthetic, artificial ingredients that are commonly found in cat food. It also contains LifeSource Bits, which are small pieces of kibble enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These whole ingredients combined with enhanced vitamins and minerals provide your feline with a broad, complete nutrition.
While all Blue Buffalo cat foods are high-quality, this blend is particularly suited for overweight cats or those who need a little extra help maintaining their weight. With high amounts of protein and minimal carbohydrates, this blend is formulated specifically to lessen your cat’s caloric intake and allow them to lose weight easily without starving them to death. Many customers reported that their cat naturally ate less of this food than other brands simply because it was so filling! If you’re looking for cat food that encourages your cat to lose weight without starving them, this is a great choice!
Blue Buffalo Weight Control for Adult Cats Key Features:
- No Chicken by-product meal
- Formulated for weight loss
- LifeSource Bits provide enhanced vitamins and minerals
- Contains only wholesome ingredients
Our Runner Up Pick: Hill’s Science Diet Cat Food for Healthy Weight and Weight Management
As the name suggests, Hill’s Science Diet Cat Food for Healthy Weight and Weight Management is made to both help your cat reach a perfect weight and maintain it afterward. If your cat has gotten older or slowed down, it is likely that they might be packing a couple of extra pounds than they need. This diet cat food is designed to help them shed that extra weight to live the fullest life they possibly can. This cat food is both effective and fast. Over 70% of cats were reported to have lost weight within ten weeks when fed this diet as instructed.
Like our top pick, this cat food is made with only natural ingredients and is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Despite this, however, it still tastes good. Many customers reported that their cats preferred this brand over other brands. It is only made with high-quality ingredients, including real chicken, lamb, or salmon depending on what flavor you get. This cat food also contains a clinically proven blend of antioxidants as well as many other important nutrients to ensure that your feline is getting complete nutrition despite being on a diet cat food. If you still aren’t convinced, this Hill’s Science Diet offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all their products, so you don’t risk anything if you try a bag!
Hill’s Science Diet Cat Food for Healthy Weight and Weight Management Key Features:
- Only natural ingredients
- Proven effective
- Includes antioxidants
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
Best Budget Pick: IAMS Proactive Health Cat Food
Even if you’re on a budget, you can still purchase your cat a high-quality diet cat food. IAMS Proactive Health Cat Food is formulated to help your indoor cat remain a healthy weight. As you might know, indoor cats tend to get less exercise than cats who are allowed outdoors. This lack of exercise means that your indoor feline might become overweight easier and faster than an outdoor cat would. Because of this, it is not uncommon for indoor cats to need a bit of specialized help to ensure that they reach and maintain a healthy weight. This cat food provides that extra help.
This diet cat food is made with high-quality ingredients, including chicken. This high-quality protein provides your cat with key amino acids that allow them to shed fat without losing lean muscle. Cats with more lean muscle burn more calories than those with more fat, even when at rest. This feature helps your cat burn more calories than they would otherwise, which helps them shed the pounds they need to.
On top of helping your feline lose weight, this cat food also contains a fiber blend that reduces instances of hairballs. Any cat can benefit from this feature, even if they don’t necessarily need to lose that much weight.
IAMS Proactive Health Cat Food Key Features:
- 100% balanced nutrition
- Formulated for weight loss and hairball reduction
- Contains amino acid
- Chicken is a key ingredient
Best Dry Diet Cat Food: BLUE Wilderness Weight Control Cat Food
BLUE Wilderness Weight Control Cat Food is about as close to your cat’s natural diet as you can get. This recipe is created to be high-protein and grain-free. Cats are obligatory carnivores and are not designed to eat large amounts of grain. However, many low-quality cat foods contain a lot of grain as a filler, and it is not uncommon for cats to have a moderate reaction to this ingredient. Plus, grain is also almost completely carbs, which does not match up with a cat’s natural high-protein, high-fat diet. This excess grain consumption can easily cause them to become overweight. If you cat has symptoms of having a food allergy or is overweight, eliminating grain from their diet can help their quality of life and help them return to a healthy weight.
On top of the grain-free feature, this diet cat food also contains LifeSource Bits, which are specially designed pieces of kibble that are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. All of these ingredients help to improve your cat’s overall health and ensure that they receive all the nutrients they need even though they might be eating less cat food than they’re use too. This diet cat food is densely packed with nutrition, so there is no need to worry about your cat missing out on key vitamins and minerals.
BLUE Wilderness Weight Control Cat Food Key Features:
- No artificial ingredients
- Contains sweet potatoes as a healthy carbohydrate
Best Wet Diet Cat Food: Hill’s Science Diet Wet Cat Food for Perfect Weight
Featuring a similar formulation to our Runner-Up pick, Hill’s Science Diet Wet Cat Food for Perfect Weight is proven to help cats lose and maintain a healthy weight. Some cats simply eat and tolerate wet food better. Plus, suddenly changing a cat from wet to dry food can be detrimental and cause all sorts of short-term digestive problems, which we are sure you don’t want to have to clean up. Luckily, Hill’s Science Diet also offers their diet cat food in a wet form. Now, you don’t have to worry about whether you should risk switching your overweight cat from wet to dry food. You can just use this product instead.
Customers loved that this product was scientifically proven to be effective. Over 70% of cats who use this wet diet cat food as directed for ten weeks will lose weight. Like most diets, the longer you leave your cat on it, the more effective it will be. Because cats are sensitive to changes in their food, the manufacturer recommends switching to this food slowly and feeding it to your cat for as long as possible.
Unlike many diet cat foods, this product was formulated to work for cats of all breeds and weights. If you have a multi-cat household, this is probably your best option to ensuring that all your cats remain a healthy weight without the added stress of separating them at mealtime.
Hill’s Science Diet Wet Cat Food for Perfect Weight Key Features:
- Scientifically proven
- Extremely soft
- 100% complete nutrition
- Designed to help all cats remain a healthy weight
Who Should Buy Diet Cat Food
In the U.S., more and more cats are becoming overweight. As you probably know, an overweight cat can experience not only mobility problems but also a number of other detrimental health problems that can slowly chip away their quality of life. Cats who are overweight will often only put on more pounds when left to their devices. After all, overweight cats or less likely to move and be active, which only lowers the number of calories they burn on a daily basis. Because cats will often not lose weight by themselves, it is up to their owners to put them on a diet that’s appropriate for cats and exercise plan that encourages weight loss and helps their feline maintain a healthy weight. Any owner who suspects that their cat needs help with their weight should purchase a diet cat food.
If you think your cat might be overweight, it is always a good idea to get them checked out by their veterinarian. If their status is confirmed, a diet cat food is almost always the best way to encourage them to lose weight as long as they don’t have any other health problems. Of course, not all diet cat foods are made the same. We suggest trying one of the diet cat foods on our top five list for the best possible results.
Important Features to Consider
A diet cat food should do several things well. Here is what you should consider when choosing a diet cat food for your feline:
- Nutrition. While a diet cat food should contain fewer calories, it should not contain fewer nutrients. Just because your cat is on a diet does not mean that they need fewer nutrients than before. In fact, the reverse is often true. Because your cat is probably eating less cat food than previously, choosing a nutritionally dense diet cat food is necessary to ensure that they get full and do not constantly feel hungry. Always check that a diet cat food provides complete nutrition before purchasing it.
- Taste. Just like human diets, many diet cat foods can be unappetizing. If your cat refuses to eat the diet cat food, it probably isn’t going to do them much good. So, it is important to make sure that the diet cat food you pick is at least somewhat tasty. If you have a pickier cat, you should probably pay particular attention to how the diet cat food tastes.
- Wholesome ingredients. Most of the time, whole, natural ingredients are better than artificial ones. Sometimes, diet cat foods will attempt to cut down on the calorie count by including incomplete, artificial ingredients. We recommend always checking the ingredient list on the bag before choosing a diet cat food for your feline friend. If something sounds sketchy, it probably is.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a healthy weight for a cat?
How much your cat should weigh depends heavily on their size, breed, and gender. In general, most domestic cats should weigh about 10 pounds. Of course, if your feline is a large species of cat such as a Maine Coon, they are probably going to weigh more than smaller sized cats. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, just because your cat does not meet traditional weight standards does not necessarily mean that they are overweight. Some cats have more lean muscles than others and might exceed the suggested weight for their size despite not having much body fat. In these cases, your cat might not need to lose weight at all.
If you expect that your cat might be overweight or have a few extra pounds of fat, you should speak to your veterinarian. Performing a few simple tests will allow them to determine exactly how much your cat should weigh and whether or not you should put your cat on a diet cat food.
How do I know if my cat is overweight?
Only your veterinarian can tell you for sure whether or not your cat is overweight. However, there are a couple of signs you can look for at home that might signal it’s time to start your cat on a diet cat food. One of the most obvious signs is an excess of body fat hanging off of your feline. If your cat has fat rolls, they are probably overweight. Your cat’s activity level might clue you into whether or not they are overweight as well. Cats who are generally inactive are more likely to be overweight, and cats that are overweight are more likely to be inactive. So, if your cat lays around all day, it might be time to take them to the vet for a checkup.
Another way to tell if your cat is overweight is by feeling for their ribs. You should be able to feel your cat’s ribs easily but not see them. If you cannot feel your cat’s ribs or they protrude outward, then your cat is not at a healthy weight, and you should make an appointment with a veterinarian. It might also be helpful to look at a body condition score for your cat. While these aren’t fool-proof, they can be useful by giving you something to compare your cat too.
How do I get my indoor cat to lose weight?
Indoor cats are usually less active than their outdoor counterparts. However, this does not mean that it is impossible to keep your feline at a healthy weight. Many indoor cats who are overweight will easily begin to shed the pounds if you put them on a diet cat food. On top of diet management, it is also recommended that you encourage them to exercise. This can be done through play or even walking your cat outside if possible.
How can I put my cat on a diet?
Trying to self-manage your cat’s diet can be complicated. After all, if you simply restrict the amount of food they consume, it is likely that they will miss out on key vitamins and minerals. Instead, opt to put your cat on a diet cat food and follow the feeding instructions closely. You might not want to switch your cat’s food abruptly since it can cause digestive problems and turn your cat off of their new food. Slowly switch to the new diet cat food over a week or so by mixing it in your cat’s old food in slowly increasing amounts.