Best Cat Foods for Overweight Cats

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Regardless of his current weight, your cat is at his best when he eats like a lean, trim carnivore. The best cat food for overweight cats is rich in high-quality protein without too much fat or starch.

That’s why we recommend Nom Nom’s Fish Feast as the overall best cat food for overweight cats. It’s moisture-rich, satisfying, and doesn’t have too much fat or plant matter, both of which can contribute to weight gain.

But that’s not what sets it apart from other products on the market. This diet’s uniqueness lies in its customized meal delivery format. Because Nom Nom logs your cat’s weight and weight goals, each meal comes pre-portioned with just the right amount of food to help your cat reach his ideal weight.

If you want to make weight loss as easy as possible, Nom Nom is an outstanding option. But it’s not for everyone. To help you find a product that works for you, we’ve chosen 6 great foods for cats who need to lose weight.

At a Glance: Best Cat Foods for Overweight Cats To Buy

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Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

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Best Overall

Nom Nom Fish Cat Food
  • Each pouch contains one portion measured for your cat’s needs
  • High-moisture, satisfying food
  • Emphasizes species-appropriate animal protein
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Runner Up

Smalls for Smalls
  • Fresh food made with human-grade ingredients
  • Real, high-quality animal protein
  • High in protein and moisture, very low in carbs
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Value Pick

Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast
  • Relatively low in calories
  • Affordable
  • Virtually free of plant ingredients
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Best for Indoor Cats

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe
  • Formulated for indoor cats and low in calories
  • Made primarily from highly digestible animal protein
  • Most cats enjoy the flavor
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Best for Gravy Lovers

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Love Me Tender Cat Food
  • Primarily made from animal protein
  • Very low in calories
  • Hydrating food helps to keep your cat satisfied
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Best for Sensitive Stomach

Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Patties
  • Primarily made from rabbit, a novel protein for many cats
  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • Contains herring oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
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Why You Should Trust Us

Over the last year, we’ve reviewed over 80 cat food brands, including most of the biggest brands on the planet. We’ve read customer reviews, spoken with market insiders, and tested foods hands-on.

Based on that research, we’re bringing you an updated list of the best cat food brands and products in the industry. The following foods earn their place with outstanding ingredient quality, nutritional merits, and safety records.

Here’s how to pick the best cat food for overweight cats.

Before we jump into the reviews, let’s talk more about the qualities of the best cat food for overweight cats.

The ideal weight loss diet has high protein content with moderate fat levels and minimal carbohydrates.

In general, if your cat is overweight, he may have been eating the wrong food for a long time. For overweight cats, just switching to a species-appropriate diet is enough to make a big difference. This type of diet helps to prevent weight gain, and the transition alone may be enough to help your cat lose some extra pounds.

A species-appropriate diet mimics the nutritional content of your cat’s prey.

It’s rich in the right amino acids, contains low-to-moderate levels of animal-derived fat, and has little to no starch. This macronutrient distribution is at the heart of every good cat food. It helps cats maintain lean muscle mass, achieve appropriate blood sugar levels, and experience overall wellbeing.

Wet cat food is ideal for weight control.

Most overweight or obese cats live on dry food, which leaves them under-stimulated, over-sugared, and at risk for serious health conditions.

In contrast to kibble, high-moisture cat food is bulkier and will help your cat feel full for longer. Think of it as a bowl of grapes versus a handful of raisins. You’ll get fewer calories in the bowl of grapes, but it feels more substantial and will leave you full for longer.

The switch to wet food might be a challenge, especially if your cat has eaten kibble since he was a kitten. But in the long run, wet food will keep your cat fuller for longer and help him lose weight with less of a struggle.

Free-feeding is out for overweight cats.

Allowing your cat to freely nibble from a full bowl of food might seem to honor his natural instincts, but few things could be less natural for a cat. Cats naturally eat multiple small meals throughout the day, fasting between each successful hunt.

In addition to discouraging your cat from gorging themselves, feeding multiple meals during the day will allow you to closely monitor your cat’s intake.

There’s no need to choose a diet marketed for weight management.

Most indoor-specific recipes and diet cat foods follow a similar blueprint. They decrease protein and fat while bumping up levels of carbohydrates and fiber. These high-fiber foods promise to keep your cat satisfied on roughage alone, but they fail to honor your cat’s needs as a carnivore.
As a bright spot, these diets are formulated to meet your cat’s minimal nutritional requirements with fewer calories. Also, some of the diets do have a high protein content with minimal carbohydrates.

However, given the blueprint mentioned above, weight loss diets for cats are generally engineered for disappointment.

By restricting protein intake, these diets may cause muscle loss. Secondly, because your cat is an obligate carnivore, he’s hardwired to feel satisfied by protein and fat—not carbohydrates or fiber. This means that while these diets are low-calorie, they’re not as satisfying as diets that are rich in the protein and fat that your cat instinctively craves.

Also read: Best Cat Food brands

To help your cat lose weight while maintaining healthy muscle mass, put his carnivorous needs first.

From his claws to his metabolism, your cat’s body is optimized to hunt and eat animals. That doesn’t change if he’s overweight, obese, or underweight.

Also read: Best High Protein Low Carb Canned Cat Food

How Much Food Should You Give Your Overweight Cat To Lose Weight?

My vet is recommending a therapeutic diet. Does my cat really need a special food

Your cat should lose weight at a slow, steady rate of about 1-2% of his current weight each week. For example, if your cat currently weighs 25 lbs, he should lose between 4 and 8 ounces during his first week of dieting.

You probably won’t notice such a small rate of weight loss from week to week. But slow and steady weight loss is preferable to rapid weight loss. Your cat is more likely to maintain the weight loss if it is done gradually.

Three Ways to Calculate Your Overweight Cat’s Calorie Needs

1. The 80% Technique

Assuming that your cat is currently maintaining an unhealthy weight, determine the number of calories they eat now and gradually cut back to 60-80% of that amount.

If you don’t know how much your cat presently eats, consult with your vet or try one of the other two methods.

2. The Crystal Ball Method

The following formula will give you an estimate of your cat’s maintenance calorie intake at an ideal weight. The variable “W” represents your cat’s weight in pounds.

(13.6 x W) + 70 = Calories required to maintain your cat’s ideal weight

If your cat’s ideal weight is 11 lbs, then their maintenance intake will be roughly 220 calories per day. When your cat is eating for a slimmer body, he’s living with a calorie deficit. This encourages gradual weight loss until your cat reaches his goal weight.

3. The Intuition Approach

If you’re not someone who likes numbers and rules and calculations, you’ll probably prefer a common-sense approach to weight loss. Just feed your cat less until his reached a healthy weight.

Remember that a highly-satisfying, moisture-rich, high-protein food will help you out here.

Keep this in mind, though: Cutting calories with your cat’s current diet could also cut nutrient intake. Your cat’s weight loss should be not be achieved at the expense of your cat’s nutritional needs.

Your vet will be able to provide you with the most accurate calorie counts that your cat will need to achieve a healthy weight.

Top 6 Best Cat Foods for Overweight Cats

All of our top picks are meat-rich foods that emphasize animal ingredients over anything else. They’re protein-packed, made from relatively high-value ingredients, and promise to keep your cat satiated without loading him up on unnecessary calories.

#1 Overall Best: Nom Nom Fish Cat Food

NOMNOMNOW-1-065_Edited fish recipe thumb

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Nom Nom is a cat food company that pre-portions each meal based on your cat’s weight goals and delivers it fresh to your door. Because it makes portion control effortless, it’s one of the best brands for overweight cats.

When you set up your account with Nom Nom, you’ll enter your cat’s current weight and weight goal, along with any other dietary needs. Based on this information, the Nom Nom team measures out portions that support your cat’s weight goals.

Each batch of cat food is made-to-order in the company’s own kitchen. Because it’s fresh, moisture-rich, and full of species-appropriate animal protein, this food is a satisfying and nourishing choice for overweight cats.

This particular recipe features tilapia and salmon as its primary protein sources and is relatively low-fat compared to other foods, making it a relatively species-appropriate food with moderate calorie content.

Ingredients:

Chicken thigh, chicken breast, chicken liver, carrots, asparagus, cantaloupe, spinach, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, taurine, choline bitartrate, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, copper gluconate, manganese gluconate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), selenium yeast, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), potassium iodide.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein18% min
Crude Fat4% min
Crude Fiber0.8% min
Moisture73% max

What We Liked:

  • Each pouch contains one portion measured for your cat’s needs
  • High-moisture, satisfying food
  • Emphasizes species-appropriate animal protein

What We Didn’t Like:

  • One of the most expensive foods on the market

#2 Smalls for Smalls

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Features:

  • Fresh food made with human-grade ingredients
  • Loaded with real animal protein
  • Rich in moisture and natural nutrition

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Smalls
  • Made In: NYC, United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 21% min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.00 to $3.50

Smalls is a fresh cat food delivery services that uses human-grade ingredients including premium proteins like chicken, turkey, and fish. Choose from minced-style recipes or classic pate to provide your cat with protein-rich, low-carb cat food formulated for cats in all life stages.
Though Smalls doesn’t portion out your cat’s meals for you, they do provide detailed feeding recommendations according to your cat’s calorie requirements. Each package of food contains about 16 ounces of food with markings on the package at 50-calorie increments.

Smalls cat food is delivered frozen, so you’ll need to thaw the first package overnight in the fridge before feeding. Your subscription will be based on your cat’s calorie needs, and you can adjust it as needed by contacting the customer care team.

In addition to their fresh food, Smalls also offers a selection of freeze-dried cat foods, treats, and meal toppers. They also recently started selling millet and silica cat litter.

Top Recipe: Smalls Fresh Kills Fresh Minced Chicken

Featuring chicken thigh, breast, and liver as the top three ingredients, this fresh food is packed with premium animal protein. Green beans, peas, and kale are the only carbohydrate ingredients and they are naturally grain-free and rich in nutrients.

In addition to being high in protein and low in carbohydrates, this formula is rich in moisture which helps support digestion as well as healthy skin and coat. Overall, this minced chicken recipe is a high-quality source of balanced nutrition for cats in all life stages.

Ingredients:

Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Water sufficient for processing, Chicken Heart, Kale, Vegetable Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Bitartrate, Salt, Taurine, Magnesium Gluconate, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate, Ascorbic Acid, Copper Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Gluconate, Ferrous Gluconate, Niacin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Selenium, Dried Kelp, Biotin, Vitamin B12.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein21.0% min
Crude Fat8.05% min
Crude Fiber0.4% min
Moisture66.1% max
Ash2.25%  max

What We Liked:

  • Fresh food made with human-grade ingredients
  • Real, high-quality animal protein
  • High in protein and moisture, very low in carbs
  • Boosts energy and supports skin and coat health

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not individually portioned for your cat
  • Limited protein options (chicken, turkey, beef)

#3 Best Budget: Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast

Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast Canned Cat Food

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If you want to slim your cat down on a thin budget, this formula from Fancy Feast can help.
When it comes to weight management, canned food from the grocery store is usually just as effective or better than premium brands. If your overweight cat was previously eating dry food, the switching to any high-moisture, low-carb food will make a big difference.

This food gets virtually all of its protein from meat and doesn’t have any of the high-carbohydrate ingredients your overweight cat needs to avoid. Unlike other economy products, the recipe is free of animal by-products, artificial colors, and other potentially low-value ingredients.

With just under 30 calories per ounce, it’s a relatively low-calorie food that satisfies without weighing your cat down.

Ingredients:

Ocean Fish, Fish Broth, Shrimp, Vegetable Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Choline Chloride, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement], Minerals [Ferric Pyrophosphate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide], Sodium Nitrite (To Promote Color Retention). C-6901.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein17.5% min
Crude Fat2% min
Crude Fiber1.5% min
Moisture78% max
Ash3%  max

What We Liked:

  • Relatively low in calories
  • Affordable
  • Virtually free of plant ingredients
  • High-moisture food helps keep your cat satisfied

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains vaguely-named ocean fish

#4 Best for Indoor Cats: Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe Canned Cat Food Review

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food

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As an indoor cat food, this recipe is formulated to accommodate cats with lower activity levels and reduced calorie needs. It’s 29 calories per ounce and is among the lower-calorie foods you can buy.

Unlike the majority of indoor foods—which sacrifice species-appropriateness in the name of preventing hairballs and weight gain—this food is a meaty, protein-packed product.
It emphasizes high-protein animal ingredients like chicken, chicken liver, chicken meal, and turkey.

On the negative side, this food isn’t made with animal protein alone. In addition to an array of meat ingredients, the food contains pea protein and dried ground peas. While they won’t hurt, these plant protein sources aren’t ideal for an obligate carnivore like your cat.

Each can is around 12% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis, making it slightly more carb-heavy than the ideal feline diet.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth, Chicken Meal, Turkey, Pea Protein, Dried Ground Peas, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Pea Fiber, Ground Flaxseed, Guar Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Salt, Alfalfa Meal, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein11% min
Crude Fat3.5% min
Crude Fiber2% min
Moisture78% max
Ash2.4%  max

What We Liked:

  • Formulated for indoor cats and low in calories
  • Made primarily from highly digestible animal protein
  • Most cats enjoy the flavor

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains a variety of plant ingredients, including pea protein, dried ground peas, cranberries, pea fiber, and ground flaxseed

#5 Best for Gravy Lovers: Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Love Me Tender Cat Food

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Love Me Tender Cat Food Pouches

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Of all the products on this list, this formula from Weruva has the fewest calories per ounce. It is just 20.6 calories per ounce and 62 calories per pouch.

This simple recipe features shredded chicken and duck in gravy, making it a good choice for cats who prefer chunks and shreds of minimally-processed meat. It includes water as the first ingredient, meaning that the low-calorie density is largely thanks to the food’s unusually high water content.

Because it emphasizes animal protein, this food will help your cat maintain lean muscle mass while gradually losing weight.

Ingredients:

Water Sufficient For Processing, Chicken (Boneless, Skinless Breast), Tuna, Duck, Tapioca Starch, Sunflower Seed Oil, Calcium Lactate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein9% min
Crude Fat1.4% min
Crude Fiber0.5% min
Moisture85% max
Ash2%  max

What We Liked:

  • Primarily made from animal protein
  • Very low in calories
  • Hydrating food helps to keep your cat satisfied
  • Free from grains, carrageenan, antibiotics, hormones, and other hot-button ingredients

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive
  • Contains tapioca starch as a thickener

#6 Best for Sensitive Stomach: Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Patties

Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Patties Grain Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food

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If your overweight cat has allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, or other food sensitivities, think about providing a stripped-down diet that’s easy to digest with minimal irritating ingredients.

This freeze-dried food features rabbit as its lone protein source and main ingredient. Inspired by the variety of muscle meat, organs, and blood found in your cat’s prey, this food contains a diverse array of rabbit parts. The ingredient list features finely ground whole rabbit, heart, liver, lungs, kidney, trachea, and blood.

By featuring a lone protein source—and one that’s a novel protein for most cats—this food minimizes your cat’s exposure to potential allergens and irritants. And furthermore, there’s not much in this food besides rabbit. The recipe relies heavily on the nutritional value of minimally-processed rabbit. Compared to the average food, this recipe has significantly fewer synthetic additives and other supplemental ingredients.

This food is intended to be rehydrated before serving, meaning that your cat’s meals can be as calorie-dense as you want them to be.

Ingredients:

Finely Ground Whole Rabbit, Rabbit Heart, Rabbit Liver, Rabbit Lungs, Rabbit Kidney, Rabbit Trachea, Rabbit Blood, Raw Goat’s Milk, Water, Herring Oil, Mixed Tocopherols, D-Alpha Tocopherol.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein52% min
Crude Fat15% min
Crude Fiber3% min
Moisture8% max

What We Liked:

  • Primarily made from rabbit, a novel protein for many cats
  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • Contains herring oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Can be very low-calorie

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Some cats don’t like the rabbit flavor
  • One of the most expensive foods you can buy

With the right food and a solid strategy, you can help your cat reach a healthy weight.

Weight loss isn’t an arcane pursuit. Once you’ve established a strong strategy and chosen a nutritious diet, your biggest challenge will be to stay disciplined and consistent.

Especially if you’re converting your cat from dry food to wet, you’re bound to encounter some frustrations along the way. There will be days when you want to give in to your cat’s meows and give up altogether. When you feel like you’re hitting a wall, take a deep breath and remember that a healthier, happier cat is waiting on the other side.

Track your cat’s weight loss from week to week. Also, talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s weight loss. If your cat’s weight has plateaued, your vet might recommend trying a different food or adding in extra exercise to stimulate weight loss.

Regarding exercise, physical activity is a critical component of weight loss. In combination with fewer calories from the new diet, physical activity will help increase your cat’s metabolism, helping your cat burn more calories.

Want to learn more about feline obesity? Read our vet-written guide to this condition.

This article has been reviewed by JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM.

Frequently Asked Questions

What cat food is best for weight loss?

Our top pick for the best weight loss cat food is Nom Nom Fish Feast. This particular recipe features tilapia and salmon as its primary protein sources and is relatively low-fat compared to other foods.

What is the best dry cat food for overweight cats?

Our top pick for the best dry cat food for overweight cats is Smalls Simply Cooked Kibble. The recipe is low in carbohydrates and doesn’t contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

What is the best canned cat food for weight loss?

Our top pick for the best canned cat food for weight loss is Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe. Each can is around 12% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis, making it slightly more carb-heavy than the ideal feline diet.