Cat Keeps Gaining Weight

CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, looks at ways a cat could lose weight.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM | Posted: July 16, 2010, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: I have a 4-year-old gray tabby named Kitty and he is strictly an inside cat. He refuses to eat anything else besides his dry cat food and a kitty treat now and then (not even tuna!). I only fill his dish once a day, yet he seems to keep gaining weight. He's probably between 11 and 13 pounds now and it has gotten to the point to where he can't even properly clean himself. Is there possibly something wrong with him or is there some sort of diet I can put him on so he can get down to a healthy weight?

A: There are three ways to get a cat to lose weight: you can feed him what you’ve been feeding, but just feed less; you can feed a low-fat, high-fiber diet; or you can feed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. 

The first option — feeding the same food, but feeding less of it — often doesn’t work because the cat complains and wakes you up early to be fed. Of the other options, I have had the most success feeding a low-fat, high-fiber diet. These diets are reduced in calories and will cause weight loss for your cat if fed properly. 

Discuss your cat’s ideal weight with your vet. Once you determine the ideal weight, you can calculate the proper amount of calories needed to achieve that weight. Dry food is very calorically dense. Canned food has much fewer calories by weight compared to dry food. You’ll achieve better success feeding canned food.

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