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How To Dechonk Your Cat (Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide)

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Do you have an overweight cat that can’t lose weight?

There’s a lot of confusing information online about helping cats lose weight. Let’s review the facts:

A dechonk helps cats live a longer and healthier life, reducing the risk of diabetes and mobility issues.

In this article, I’ll give you a step-by-step for dechonking your cat. Your cat will be healthier and happier in no time!

The goal of this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats. I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.

How to Dechonk Your Cat (Step by Step Guide)

1. Find out if if your cat is overweight

Use the Body and Muscle Condition Score chart to find out if your cat is overweight (a score over 5) and needs dechonking.

Your cat should have a little fat around the ribs but their abdomen should not distend. A tad pudgy…but not too much.

A vet can help you by performing a physical check. This will give you confidence in whether your is in fact overweight (something we can find hard to find out).

Keep in mind:

Being too thin also creates health problems. Older cats (12 years +) can experience muscle loss and increased risk of illness.

The Muscle Condition Score chart will help you find out whether your cat is losing too much muscle.

A body condition score over 5 is over ideal body weight in cats. Aim to get your cat to a 5 in weight for top health.
A body condition score over 5 is over ideal body weight in cats. Aim to get your cat to a 5 in weight for top health.

2. Find out How Much to Feed Your Cat to Dechonk

Use an online calculator to find out how much to feed your cat. To lose weight, your cat needs to eat fewer calories than it burns.

An online calculator is the fastest and easiest way to get started with a weight loss diet.

You need to enter information about your cat into the fields though.

Here’s what you’ll need to find out to get the best results with the calculator:

Find out How Much Your Cat Weighs

Enter your cat’s weight into the calculator (kg or lbs.).

Find out your cats weight by holding them and standing on a scale.

Subtract your “person weight” from your “person holding cat” weight to find your cat’s weight.

Example

Joe weighs 70kg

Joe holds his cat and stands on the scale – it reads 75kg

Joe’s cat weighs 5kg ( 75kg – 70kg = 5kg). Enter 5kg into the calculator.

Use an online calorie calculator for cats. Enter their weight and what unit you used.
Use an online calorie calculator for cats. Enter their weight and what unit you used.

Is Your Cat Neutered or Intact?

Enter whether your cat is neutered or intact.

This affects how many calories your cat burns in a day. Neutered male cats are at a higher risk of weight gain.

Here’s what to do if your cat is ‘neutered’.

A calorie calculator for cats. Select neutered or intact from the drop down menu.
Select neutered or intact from the drop down menu.

Body Condition Score

Use the Body Condition Score chart and rate your cat using the scale.

For example, if your cat is a 7 on the scale, use the slider and move the scale to 7.

After you do this, the right-hand panel will show you how much to feed your cat.

An online calorie calculator for cats. Use the slider to enter your cats body condition score (note how this adjust calorie needs).
Use the slider to enter your cats body condition score (note how this adjust calorie needs).

Your Estimated Calorie Needs For Your Cat’s Weight Loss

After you entered all the information you will get the daily calories to give your cat.

Here’s an example below:

I entered my pet weight as 5.0kg (equivalent to 11lbs), spayed/neutered, and entered a body condition score of 7.

The calculator suggests an ideal weight of 4.0kg and my cat is 20% over his ideal weight.

You can also see the daily recommended calories of 168 kcal per day (151 kcal from food and 17 kcal from treats).

It’s recommended that you shoot for a weight loss of around 0.5-1% of body weight per week.

For my cat that adds up to around 100g per week. That means getting your cat to an ideal weight will take around 10 weeks.

An online calorie calculator for cats. Find out how much to feed your cat.
Check the right hand side of the calculator to find out how much to feed your cat.

How big does the calorie deficit need to be?

Aim for 10-20% less than the estimated calorie needs of your cat. The Pet Alliance website will factor the calorie deficit into their calculation.

Keep in mind your cat still needs enough food to get enough protein, moisture, vitamins, and minerals for overall health.

Slow and steady is the best way to help your cat lose weight.

What is the ideal weight for cats?

The ideal weight for cats varies depending on breed, age, and length.

The most important thing is that your cat is holding enough weight to maintain strength, whilst not being too heavy.

Talk with your vet for more help finding the healthiest weight for your cat.

Give kitty a vet check to make sure they're at a healthy weight.
Give kitty a vet check to make sure they’re at a healthy weight.

How many treats should I feed a cat for dechonking?

Use the Pet Alliance calculator to find out how many treats to give your cat.

Cats that need to lose weight need fewer treats and healthier options (e.g. freeze-dried meats).

Treats can add up, similar to snacking on finger food during the day. It’s a hidden source of calories outside of meals.

Are there any special food recommendations that help a cat lose weight?

The most important factor in weight loss is making sure your cat does not overeat calories. Use the Pet Nutrition Alliance calculator to find out food requirements.

I recommend giving your cat wet canned cat food. This type of food benefits cats because it is less calorie dense than dry food.

That makes it harder to over-portion.

Here is a round-up of our best selected wet cat foods for weight loss. They are rated by kcal/g on a dry matter basis which is a measure of how calorie dense the product is.

Best wet cat food for weight lossKcal/gCarbohydrate (%)Protein (%)Taste TrustCostNutrition
Instinct Original | Grain-free real rabbit recipe4.33.259.1%A-AA-A-
Feline Natural Feast | Chicken & lamb feast4.62.151.5%B-A+B-A+
Nulo Freestyle | Duck & tuna recipe4.85.851.4%B+A+AA
Ziwi Peak Provenance Series | Otago valley5.14.144.9%B-A+B-A+
Sheba Perfect Portions | Roasted turkey entree5.67.545.0%A+AA-B
*Dry matter basis analysis

Read more:

Wet cat food is the best choice for weight control.
Wet cat food is the best choice for weight control.

Does it Matter How often I feed My cat for Dechonking?

Nope. That said, I recommend setting scheduled meals for your cat.

Cat’s eat a lot of small meals in the wild from small prey such as birds and rodents. Although the frequency of meals doesn’t seem to matter in weight loss, it might be better to spread things out.

What you want to avoid is free-feeding. This is a practice where you toss some food in a bowl and hope for the best of it that your cat eats as much as they need.

According to research free-feeding dry food and a lack of outdoor access increase the risk of weight gain most in cats.

Learn more:

3. Upgrade Your Environment

One way to help your cat lose weight is to decrease calories eaten. The other is to increase calories burned.

It’s harder to get a cat to exercise, but you can still take steps to increase their activity.

An automatic cat toy is a great option to look into.

Puzzle feeders are another good choice. They make your cat work for their food, similar to how they would in the wild.

A cat using a puzzle feeder

What do I do if my cat is not losing weight even with diet?

Use an online calorie calculator and make sure you are offering your cat the right amount of calories for weight loss. Your cat must be in a caloric deficit or they won’t lose fat.

Things that can impact on weight loss include:

  • More cats in the house (more plates of food for your cat to steal)
  • More people in the house (more people offering treats and leftovers)
  • Not measuring and weighing food portions
  • Free-feeding
  • Reduced activity
  • Misjudging your cats weight loss/gain

If your cat is still struggling to lose weight, check with a vet for help.

It is possible your cat may have an underactive thyroid or other health problem that makes it harder to lose weight.

A cat getting a vet check-up.
Ask for a vet for a check-up if you’re unsure of why your cat isn’t able to lose weight.

Conclusion

To lose weight, your cat must eat a calorie deficit. That means eating fewer calories than they burn. Keeping your cat at a healthy weight reduces the risk of diabetes and shortened lifespan.

Use a Nutrition Calculator to work out how many calories to feed your cat for weight loss.

If you continue to have problems, get the help of a vet for professional advice and support.

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