My oldest cat is obese. She was a rescue (as were my other cats), and was recovering from starvation when we adopted her.

Ever since, she's had food issues.

She gets noticeably stressed whenever her food dish gets empty, even if she's just eaten. On occasion, she'll respond to an empty food dish by overeating upon the next feeding, to the point she'll vomit.

We give her a spoon full of canned food mixed in with some diet dry food (only the dry food is diet; most of my cats will boycott the food if we try diet canned food) in the morning. We also fill the two cat food bowls with diet dry food each morning.

We tried limiting the amount of dry food left out during the day/overnight, but the problem is our other cats.

One of them is very timid, particularly when it comes to food. He is easily scared away from his food, and he generally skirts being underweight. If we restrict the amount of food left out, we're concerned that he won't get enough to eat. He won't even come into the kitchen to feed with the other cats, and instead is fed under a chair in the living room. Two of our cats are food aggressive, chasing him from his food so they can eat it.

How can we help our overweight cat lose weight? We've tried playing with her more, to keep her active, but it hasn't seemed to make a difference.

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I have had very good luck with two different obese cats using a Tiger Diner cat bowl. They have to work for their food, so they eat more slowly and feel like they are eating more, one of my cats started actually leaving food when using the Tiger Diner. The various food balls and feeder toys are also good.

One of the obese cats I've dealt with is also very nervous about food. One thing that helps is to put part of her dry food in one of the timed 'vacation' feeders. She knows that there is food in it and trusts that she will get it eventually but can't eat it right now. This allows her to relax and not stress about getting food.

Although it did not work for us, my vet recommended making a broth of water and wet food and offering that in addition to or instead of water. This has the benefit of getting more water into your cat (most cats don't drink enough water) and makes them think they are getting food without a lot of calories.

If you can do so without making your overweight cat too nervous, feeding the timid cat in a place too small for the other cats might be helpful as well.

Most "diet" cat foods load up on carbs, which cats don't need (they're carnivores!). The reason is that they want the cat to feel full, but the problem is that the cat has to ingest more calories to get the amount of protein that they need.

Your cats need to be eating a diet of entirely wet, low carb food. This food is better for your cats and contains fewer calories (carbs) that they don't need. Cat Info has a really good page describing how to pick a good quality food

Second, they need to be eating on a schedule. The schedule will help reduce the food anxiety (she'll know that at 6pm her bowl will have food in it, even though at 5:45 it does not). We have one cat who still gets a little anxious at times, so we've voice trained her to "take a breath" and she steps away from the food for a few minutes, which is enough to keep her from puking. We did this by picking her up and putting her somewhere else for a few minutes until she figured out that's what we wanted. If your cats are food aggressive enough to attack you I wouldn't recommend that method though!

Third, if the aggressive cats chase the timid cat away from the food, they should be locked in a different room and fed there. Our anxious cat also hoards resources and gets hissy if anyone is around her when she is eating or drinking, so her bowls are in a different room away from everyone else.

Keep playing with her! As she starts losing weight she'll want to play more because it won't take as much effort (and she may have joint pain right now, and that should ease up as she looses weight).

Good luck!

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