Is my cat's food causing weight gain?

by Steven

My girlfriend has a female overweight cat that is about 7 yrs old. When the female was younger, she needed hip surgery. I recently got a male kitten that is 5 months old and recently declawed and neutered, got him when he was 5 weeks old.

The older female cat requires a cosequin pill in her food daily to help with her hip and she also requires a grain free food or she gets bad dandruff. Since we got the kitten we had to change feeding due to the fact that before, we just emptied the pill powder on her dry food and now it's impossible with both cats.

About 2 months ago, I started feeding both cats a small amount of canned food and I now sprinkle the pill on the older cat's food. This is the only thing I have found to make sure she gets the medicine and he doesn't, but the set back is that she is really getting big now.

Any suggestions on how I can still feed just her, get her the pill and also delete the canned food (I think this is what's causing the weight gain)?

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Canned vs. dry
by: Tamara

Kurt is right. My vet told me the same thing, canned food will actually help your cat lose weight.

In the past 5 years I've heard vets say canned is better, but dental experts say they get more tartar build up.

Good Luck!

Wet food, separate rooms.
by: Kurt (Admin)

Your suspicion is that the canned food is causing weight gain in your cat, but often, many veterinarins say for weight loss, canned food is preferred over dry. Dry foods tend to be higher in carbohydrates (not normally on your cat's menu), even if they're grain free.

For example, Blue Buffalo has a grain free dry food where the third ingredient on the bag is "potato starch." Wellness, another premium brand, has a grain free product where the 8th ingredient is "potatoes." If you're a human, just looking at a potato makes you larger. Well, that's what it does to me, anyway. :)


Some veterinarians claim that dry food leads to obesity. While that might be too general and not all vets agree, certainly feeding canned food and unlimited free choice dry food can be a problem if the cats are feeding all day.

I'm assuming that your vet has checked your cats out and that exercising is an option. Changing diets too quickly can cause gastric upset in cats, so it's often best to make changes slowly.

In addition, you should follow your vet's guidance on how much to feed, especially if you're changing diets or reducing caloric intake with an obese cat. Never starve a fat cat, as that can lead to fatty liver disease.

So, if your veterinarian agrees, I would eliminate the dry food, and feed only the wet food.

We've got two problems here. The first is that we need to make sure that one of the cats gets all of her medicine (and the other cat gets none of it). The second is that the cat taking the medicine is overweight.

One solution to the first problem, as you've figured out, is to have set meal times. Feed a grain free, low carbohydrate canned/wet food (not free choice dry food) to both cats at the same time each day. Feed them in separate rooms, or at least place some sort of barrier between them so that they can't eat each other's food.

The good news is that the second problem is partially solved by the solution to the first problem. As I said before, dry food is often blamed for weight gain in cats due to the high carbohydrate content.

While not all wet food is created equal, wet food is typically recommended as the better choice for both weight loss/maintenance and overall kitty health. The increased water content of wet food is said to be good for cats as well, since many cats are probably somewhat dehydrated.

Weight loss is created by increasing your cat's exercise level combined with portion control and a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Again, this is typically most easily accomplished by feeding wet food, and clearly, wet food on top of free choice dry food is a recipe for weight gain.

That being said, while each food has feeding instructions from the manufacturer, the general rule is that if your cat is gaining too much weight, feed less. Simply put, exercise more, eat less, lose weight.

You could opt for a weight management cat food, but personally, I would go with regular, grain free wet food and more activity and see how that goes. Again I'll add that this should be done only if your veterinarian agrees and with the cautions above about calorie intake.

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