Feline obesity has become a real problem, and, despite the wide range of “weight loss formula” commercial food on the market, it seems to be getting worse, rather than better. Many cat parents who have tried these weight loss diets, generally high carb/low fat dry foods, find this approach frustrating, as it usually fails to achieve significant loss of weight.
Indoor cats are commonly fed energy dense, high carb dry foods, which provides the cat with more energy than he or she can possibly use. Outdoor cats in the wild must maintain fitness, and therefore a lean body weight to successfully hunt for food. Such fitness is not required in sedentary, indoor cats. Constant access to plentiful amounts of inappropriate carb rich food plus little physical activity leads to overweight cats.
Why dry food diet foods don’t work
The main problem is the high percentage of carbohydrates in the diet. Cats have absolutely no requirement for any carbs in their diet.
Because of the metabolic requirement for cats to utilize protein as an energy source, diets with low amounts of protein, and high amounts of carbs, can result in loss of muscle mass. A loss of lean muscle mass leads to a lowering of the metabolic rate and can make weight gain even worse.
Traditional weight loss plans include feeding an energy restricted, low fat, high carb, low protein diet. While these diets may result in weight loss, they do so to the detriment of lean body mass, especially as cats use protein for energy.
Successful weight loss requires loss of fat as well as maintenance of lean body mass. Lean body mass is the driver of basal energy metabolism. Loss of lean body mass is a major contributor to weight regain as appetite is not reduced and satiety not reached.
Feeding a high protein, low or no carb diet is key
High protein, low/no carb raw meat diets not only result in sustained weight loss in cats, but also help reduce the cats urge to eat constantly. This is simply because the cats are more likely to be satiated when feeding a species appropriate raw meat diet versus a dry food with carbs.
A dry food diet, as well as most canned commercial wet diets, contain a high amount of carbs, and cats, being obligate carnivores, will over eat to get the amount of protein their bodies require. Too many calories, as we all know, will cause weight gain or failure to lose weight
Set times and measured meals
We highly recommend not free feeding your cats, even with high-protein, low-carb diets, if they consume too many calories, they will become or remain obese.
The daily allotment of food should be fed in multiple small meals to mimic the cat's natural feeding strategy of hunting and catching multiple small prey animals per day. This also increases the thermal effect of food, which increases the metabolic rate and assists in weight loss. We recommend feeding 2-4% of your (adult) cats ideal weight, divided into 2 or 3 (or more) small meals a day.
As always, if you have any concerns, please refer to your vet, and/or contact us directly to discuss your cats individual dietary requirements