Food for Overweight Cats

Overweight cats are exposed to different health issues such as diabetes, cardiac problems or arthritis, and live a shorter life. A cat that is 30 to 50% above his optimal weight should be put on a diet, to prevent premature health problems.

The diet of an overweight cat should be low in calories and contain the essential nutrients. There are a few options that are typically recommended for dieting cats.

Protein Based Food

Cats are carnivores and their food needs to contain meat and protein, even if they are on a diet.

The proteins can make up for 30 to 40% of the cat's diet and will ensure that he has sufficient energy. You can prepare the food at home, provided you have recipes for diet cat food that contain the essential nutrients.

Give your cat several smaller servings per day, so that he won't feel hungry and will stay away from hunting mice or looking for food in the garbage or other places.

A lot of commercial cat food contains carbohydrates in excess, which may lead to obesity in the first place. Opt for food that is low in carbs, as cats don't need carbs.

Low Fat and More Fibers

A dieting cat should get a low fat food. The fat content should be a maximum of 10% in a weight loss diet, instead of the normal 18%. Fatty acids are also recommended in dieting to prevent hair loss and dry skin; opt for omega 3, 6 and 9, which are present in fish oil.

Increase the amounts of fibers to 15%, as these promote digestion and will also give your cat a sensation of being full.

Wet Food

Wet food has lower calorie content, as it contains more water than dry food. Water has no calories but will give your pet the impression that he is full. Instead of dry food, the cat may eat the same amount of wet food with a lower calorie percentage.

Dry food also contains added sugar and flour, which can cause weight gain.

Weight Reduction Cat Food

Look for weight reduction foods or light versions of the food you usually feed your cat. These foods are specially formulated to promote weight loss. Check the label for the protein, fat and fiber content. Talk to your vet to establish if these foods have the optimal nutrients and ask for supplements, if needed. Antioxidants, selenium and vitamin E may be prescribed during a diet program.

Before starting a diet, you need to consult a vet. He needs to establish if your cat is healthy or whether the diet will not be a health risk for your pet.

Don't try radical diets; these give short term results and may harm your cat.

Free choice feeding is not recommended for obese cats. Leave out only a bowl of fresh water. Feed your cat, so that you control the amounts he eats.

Exercise is also recommended in weight loss programs; play with your pet, to help him lose pounds quicker.