The Best Diet Cat Foods

Cats are carnivores and require nutrient-dense, whole foods from the animal kingdom. For a biologically-appropriate diet, cats need animal protein, and either no or very little carbohydrates. The most effective and safest way for your cat to lose weight is to feed high-quality, species-appropriate food while placing him on an exercise program under the supervision of a qualified cat veterinarian – a veterinarian who specializes in the unique needs of cats.

We dug through the myriad of cat foods on Amazon to find you the best foods to help your cat safely lose weight and thrive. We looked through dozens of ingredient lists, targeting those that offered high-quality meats. And though home-feeding is best, we found 25 cat foods that are readily available and considered top-notch.

Best Diet Cat Food Overall
Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Turkey
Sourced and made in the USA, Vital Essentials delivers ancestral ingredients, such as cage-free turkey, organs, and eggs.

We liked Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Turkey as our favorite diet cat food to help your precious kitty lose some weight and thrive in her life. With limited ingredients, and no fillers or carbohydrates, he’ll get back in to shape in no time.

The 5 Top-Rated Diet Cat Foods

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best OverallVital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Turkey4.1
Best Grain Free Diet Cat FoodFreeze Dried Cat Food By Feline Natural – Chicken & Lamb4.6
Best Budget BuyStella & Chewy's Freeze Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats – Salmon & Chicken4.1
Best Wet Diet Cat FoodMerrick Backcountry Wet Cat Food – 24 count – Beef4.3
Best Dry Diet Cat FoodMerrick Backcountry Dry Cat Food – Game Bird Recipe4.2

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Best Diet Cat Food Overall: Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Turkey

Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Turkey provides your cat with all he needs from the animal kingdom. Following a prey model, ingredients include all parts of the animal – the way a cat would eat in the wild. Cage-free turkey provides the muscle meat protein, while the liver, heart, and gizzards make up the organ meats, which are full of vitamins and minerals. This formula also has turkey eggs, as well as the eggshell membrane, which contributes to protein and fat macros, and adds to vitamins and minerals. It even contains raw goat’s milk, which boosts the vitamins and minerals more, and adds natural probiotics and digestive enzymes. Rounding out the clean ingredients is herring oil, which gives your kitty some much-needed omega-3 fatty acids.

Feeding your furry feline foods that align with his natural, wild side allows his body to properly digest and use the nutrients. Highly bioavailable food, such as meat and organs, are used for energy and not stored by the body like carbohydrates. The cage-free turkey is raised without hormones and antibiotics, keeping the ingredients clean and free of toxins. With no fillers or carbohydrates to slow or clog his system, your kitty’s energy will increase. This allows him to move around more so he settles at his optimum weight.

Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Turkey Key Features:

  • Sourced and made in the USA
  • Hormone- and antibiotic-free meat
  • Grain-free and gluten-free
  • Limited ingredients
  • For all life stages

Best Grain Free Diet Cat Food: Freeze Dried Cat Food By Feline Natural – Chicken & Lamb

Best Grain Free Diet Cat Food
Freeze Dried Cat Food By Feline Natural – Chicken & Lamb
With biologically-appropriate ingredients such as chicken, lamb, green-lipped mussel, and organs, your kitty will be well-fed, and thrive at her optimal weight.

With many great grain-free cat foods on the market, we like Freeze Dried Cat Food By Feline Natural – Chicken & Lamb as our pick for the best grain-free diet cat food. Following what’s true for a feline’s natural diet, this raw food contains chicken, lamb heart, kidney, liver, and blood, along with the well-known and loved New Zealand green-lipped mussel. All of the meat is grass-fed, free-range, and raised without antibiotics or hormones. This very low carbohydrate food includes flax seed flakes and dried kelp but doesn’t contain soy, dairy, potato, legumes, or other fillers and gelling agents.

Feline Natural does not use genetically modified organisms, or GMO, in its ingredients, and consists of 99 percent meat and organs. The green-lipped mussel aids the joints, which is helpful when your chubby kitty is trying to lose weight. Feline Natural is as the name implies – giving your furry friend what nature intended for her to eat. The freeze-dried style is easy to just pour in her bowl; adding water is optional.

Freeze Dried Cat Food By Feline Natural – Chicken & Lamb Key Features:

  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • Fresh New Zealand ingredients
  • For all life stages
  • Free-range, grass-fed lamb
  • Includes green mussels for joint health
  • Taurine added

Best Budget Diet Cat Food: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats – Salmon & Chicken

Best Budget Diet Cat Food
Stella & Chewy's Freeze Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats – Salmon & Chicken
Stella & Chewy’s raw salmon and chicken morsels are a convenient and ancestral way to get your cat the nutrition he needs.

Spending a little more on nutrition to give your cat the highest quality food leads to lower or no veterinarian bills. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats – Salmon & Chicken is our budget pick for diet cat foods. With simple and wholesome ingredients, your kitty gets high-quality protein from lean, cage-free chicken and omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught salmon. This formula also contains ground bone and organs for optimal health and nutrition, delivering essential vitamins and minerals, rounding out a prey model diet. A small number of carbohydrates come from pumpkin seed and dried kelp.

Made with animal protein, organs, and bones, your furry friend receives what he needs to obtain a healthy weight. Stella & Chewy offers your cat a surf and turf meal crafted in the USA, using sustainable ingredients. The salmon is wild-caught, the chicken is cage-free, and taurine and probiotics are added for better health. This grain-free cat food can be served as is, or add water to rehydrate the food.

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats – Salmon & Chicken Key Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Grain and gluten-free
  • For all life stages
  • Probiotics and taurine added
  • No ingredients from China

Best Wet Diet Cat Food: Merrick Backcountry Wet Cat Food – 24 count – Beef

Best Wet Diet Cat Food
Merrick Backcountry Wet Cat Food – 24 count – Beef
Merrick delivers beef and lamb, along with eggs, to give your kitty a whole-prey diet that will keep her in tip-top shape.

The best wet diet cat food comes from Merrick Backcountry Wet Cat Food – 24 count – Beef. The convenient pouch features a grain-free, species-appropriate meal to get your fab feline back in shape. With beef, lamb, liver, and eggs, this wet cat food provides all the macros her body needs, while ensuring she gets the essential vitamins and minerals. Merrick is gluten-free and very low in carbohydrates, which come from the potato starch used to thicken the gravy.

This protein-rich food is high in digestibility, which means your cat will be able to use the calories rather than storing them as excess weight. Salmon oil is also included in the ingredient list, which provides healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Taurine has been added to make sure your kitty doesn’t succumb to a taurine deficiency. And Merrick creates these prey-model meals in its USA kitchen.

Merrick Backcountry Wet Cat Food – 24 count – Beef Key Features:

  • Grain-free and gluten-free
  • Made in the USA
  • Taurine added
  • Includes salmon oil

Best Dry Diet Cat Food: Merrick Backcountry Dry Cat Food – Game Bird Recipe

Best Dry Diet Cat Food
Merrick Backcountry Dry Cat Food – Game Bird Recipe
Transition your furry feline to a raw ancestral diet with Merrick’s kibble-plus-raw formula, which includes grain-free kibble, and freeze-dried raw chicken and fish.

If dry food is a necessity, and you’re either hesitant to try freeze-dried or need to transition your kitty first, the best dry diet cat food is Merrick Backcountry Dry Cat Food – Game Bird Recipe. Merrick combines a high-quality kibble with pieces of freeze-dried chicken and fish for the benefits of raw. Other ingredients include chicken meal, turkey meal, salmon meal, potatoes, and peas as main sources of protein. Along with poultry and fish, this formula has duck, quail, and organ meat.

To keep your feline healthy, taurine, gelatin, and probiotics have been added to the dry food. This dry cat food is made in the USA and is free of grain and gluten. Since dry food has such a low content of water, always make sure your cat has fresh water available.

Merrick Backcountry Dry Cat Food – Game Bird Recipe Key Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Grain-free and gluten-free
  • Probiotics added
  • Includes turkey, salmon, quail, organ meat, and gelatin

Who Should Buy Diet Cat Food

If your cat needs to lose weight, it’s best to see a feline veterinarian to advise and guide you on the best course of action. But how do you know if your cat needs to lose weight and switch to a different cat food?

Most cats should weigh between 9 and 11 pounds. Veterinarians use the Body Conditioning Score to determine where your cat falls on the healthy-weight scale. The ideal body condition shows a tuck of the belly viewed from the side, and a figure-eight waist viewed from the top. When you’re petting your precious kitty, you should be able to feel her ribs and backbone, but not see them.

If you’re interested in a specific type of diet food, then you may want to check out The Best Grain-Free Cat Foods or The Best Low-Carb Cat Foods.

Best Diet Cat Food Overall
Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Turkey
Sourced and made in the USA, Vital Essentials delivers ancestral ingredients, such as cage-free turkey, organs, and eggs.

Important Features to Consider

Diet cat food should contain bioavailable food, and nourish your cat’s body so it works at its optimal level in order for him to naturally lose weight. Here’s what to consider when selecting diet cat food:

  • High-quality proteins. The first ingredients on any package of cat food should be high-quality proteins, such as chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, duck, bison, etc. Cats will only thrive on animal protein since they’re true carnivores. Animal protein is the most nutrient-dense and bio available food you can feed your cat. This means your fabulous furry will easily digest and use the appropriate amount of calories for energy when you feed her. Other high-quality proteins include organ meats, such as liver, kidney, heart, and gizzards.
  • Taurine. Taurine is an essential amino acid, which means your kitty can’t make it on his own. He has to get it from his diet. Taurine is only found in animal proteins, but it must be consumed on a regular basis. A deficiency in taurine can be detrimental to your cat’s health, and lead to blindness and heart failure. Most processed cat foods contain added taurine to help avoid this risk, but it’s good to know whether your cat is getting enough or not.
  • Carbohydrate amount. Cats are not really designed to digest carbohydrates. Their system is designed to break down animal protein. Too many carbohydrates in the body get stored as fat. Thus, lowering carbohydrates in the diet will lead to weight loss. Animal protein also provides more satiety than carbohydrates do, so your cat will feel fuller longer, helping to aid in weight loss. Some processed cat foods follow the prey model, which allows for a low amount of carbohydrates. This concept refers to the carbohydrates, such as fruit and vegetables, that would be found in the prey’s stomach.
  • Fillers, gels, and other random ingredients. Fillers come in a variety of forms, typically as grains or legumes. Grains and legumes are high in carbohydrates and do not provide the essential amino acids that animal proteins do. They’re typically added to processed pet foods to keep the cost down and to add calories. Gels and gums are binders, which can cause digestive distress in large amounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get my indoor cat to lose weight?

Take your cat to the veterinarian for a full check-up. Overweight cats are at high risk for developing diabetes, joint pain, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer. The safe way for your indoor cat to lose weight is to address any health issues that might have come up due to the excess weight. This should be done under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Once it has been determined what weight your cat should actually be, you can then choose a species-appropriate meal plan to transition him to. Generally speaking, your cat will have to consume fewer calories. But the dense nutrient value of animal protein will deliver all the macro and micronutrients he needs to create energy and good health. The animal protein will also be more satiating, so your cat will not feel deprived.

Indoor cats need stimulating environments to achieve a fulfilling life. Interactive toys, cat trees, window hammocks, tunnels, and exercise wheels all provide your indoor cat with mental and physical exercise.

Is wet or dry cat food better for weight loss?

Dry food, more commonly known as kibble, is highly processed, typically high in carbohydrates, and sometimes full of fillers, gels, gums, and preservatives. Kibble is cooked at high temperatures, which destroys nutrients. Kibble manufacturers then have to add back in the essential nutrients, resulting in lower quality and bioavailability. Dry food also has a lower water content.

Wet food, which comes in cans or pouches, is a better alternative to dry food, even if your cat doesn’t think so. Unfortunately, like humans, cats can become addicted to the high-carbohydrate load found in kibble. Wet food tends to be lower in carbohydrates, but it depends on the brand.

How many times a day should a cat eat?

How often your cat should eat depends on her age and health. Kittens should eat at least a couple of times a day, while an adult cat can eat once or twice a day. The average healthy cat can eat once or twice a day, while a cat battling health issues may need a special meal schedule. Consult with your feline veterinarian to find the best feeding schedule for your cat.

What is a healthy weight for a cat?

A healthy weight for a cat generally falls between 9 and 11 pounds, but different breeds settle at different weights. To know if your cat is at a healthy weight, feel along his ribcage and back. You should be able to feel his ribs and backbone, but you shouldn’t be able to see them. View him from the top – you want to see a figure-eight waist in front of the hips. Then view him from the side – you want to see a small tuck where the belly meets the hips.

Other Diet Cat Foods We Reviewed

Best Diet Cat Food Overall
Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Turkey
Sourced and made in the USA, Vital Essentials delivers ancestral ingredients, such as cage-free turkey, organs, and eggs.

We looked at 20 other diet cat foods. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best diet cat foods list, they’re great options to feed your cat to help her lose weight. The information you need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Chicken Diet Cat Foods

The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Cat Food – Chicken

The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Cat Food – Chicken

With the ease of just adding warm water, you can serve up a nutritious meal made with human-grade ingredients that include free-range chicken.

Key Features:

  • Grain-free and gluten-free
  • No ingredients from China
  • Non-GMO, and made in the USA

Cost: $25

Nulo Freestyle Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food – Chicken & Salmon

Nulo Freestyle Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food – Chicken & Salmon

Chicken, salmon, and chicken organs make up this raw freeze-dried cat food, which is made in the USA.

Key Features:

  • For all life stages
  • Includes coconut and salmon oil
  • Grain-free

Cost: $11

Purpose Freeze Dried Carnivore Chicken Morsels Cat Food

Purpose Freeze Dried Carnivore Chicken Morsels Cat Food

Made with free-range ground chicken, chicken organs and bones, Purpose gives your kitty species-appropriate nutrition to get him to his ideal weight. The chicken has been raised antibiotic- and hormone-free.

Key Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Grain, gluten, and soy-free
  • For all life stages

Cost: $20

Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Chicken

Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Vital Cat Entree – Chicken

Feed your feline an ancestral diet of hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken, organs, and bones. This raw formula also contains raw goat’s milk and eggshell membrane, adding vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and enzymes.

Key Features:

  • For all life stages, and made in the USA
  • Grain and gluten-free
  • Contains herring oil

Cost: $27

Turkey Diet Cat Foods

The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Cat Food – Turkey

The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Cat Food – Turkey

The Honest Kitchen processes this human-grade cat food in its human-grade facility, ensuring the best ingredients for your feline. Just add water and mix up turkey, eggs, pumpkin, and potatoes to serve her up something that’s close to a Thanksgiving dinner.

Key Features:

  • Taurine added
  • Made in the USA for all life stages
  • No ingredients from China

Cost: $30

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food Nibbles – Turkey

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food Nibbles – Turkey

Northwest Naturals is made and sourced in the USA and contains turkey meat, organs, and bones to provide your cat with an ancestral raw diet.

Key Features:

  • Grain-free and gluten-free
  • Taurine, gelatin, and fish oil added
  • Hormone- and antibiotic-free turkey

Cost: $27

Nulo Freestyle Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food – Turkey & Duck

Nulo Freestyle Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food – Turkey & Duck

Turkey meat and organs make up this freeze-dried raw cat food, which also contains coconut and salmon oil.

Key Features:

  • Taurine added
  • For all life stages
  • Grain-free

Cost: $21

Primal Freeze Dried Cat Food – Turkey

Primal Freeze Dried Cat Food – Turkey

Made with turkey meat and organs, and some fruits and vegetables, Primal creates a prey-model diet for your cat to achieve optimum health. Primal uses human-grade ingredients, and the turkey is antibiotic- and hormone-free.

Key Features:

  • For all life stages
  • Grain-free and gluten-free
  • Includes coconut, sardine, and cod liver oil, and added taurine

Cost: $31

Beef, Fish, or Duck Diet Cat Foods

Feline Natural Freeze Dried Cat Food – Beef & Hoki

Feline Natural Freeze Dried Cat Food – Beef & Hoki

Feline Natural offers your cat grass-fed beef, sustainable hoki (white fish), organs, and New Zealand green-lipped mussels.

Key Features:

  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • For all life stages
  • Grain, dairy, and soy-free, with added taurine

Cost: $34

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food Nibbles – Whitefish

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food Nibbles – Whitefish

Northwest Naturals offers a freeze-dried, raw whitefish cat food that contains fish with bone, and oils from Alaskan wild-caught salmon, pollock, and herring.

Key Features:

  • Made in Portland, Oregon
  • No fruit or vegetables
  • Added taurine and gelatin

Cost: $26

Primal Freeze Dried Cat Food – Beef & Salmon

Primal Freeze Dried Cat Food – Beef & Salmon

Made with antibiotic- and hormone-free raised beef, beef organs and bones, salmon, fruits, and vegetables, Primal freeze-dried beef and salmon give your cat a well-balanced, ancestral-type diet to bring out his health and vitality.

Key Features:

  • Grain-free and gluten-free
  • Made in the USA for all life stages
  • Includes salmon, coconut, and cod liver oil

Cost: $31

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats – Duck

Stella & Chewy's Freeze Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats – Duck

Freeze-dried duck morsels offer your kitty the taste of cage-free duck, turkey, and goose, along with organs and bones for complete nutrition.

Key Features:

  • Made in the USA for all life stages
  • Grain and gluten-free, with taurine and probiotics added
  • No ingredients from China

Cost: $20

Wet Diet Cat Foods

Crave Wet Cat Food Trays – 24 pack – Turkey & Salmon

Crave Wet Cat Food Trays – 24 pack – Turkey & Salmon

Crave delivers your fabulous feline a choice of either turkey or salmon pate, with ingredients like turkey, chicken liver, chicken heart, salmon, and chicken.

Key Features:

  • Each tray contains two servings
  • Turkey and salmon pate are separate dishes
  • Grain and soy-free

Cost: $25

Instinct Minced Wet Cat Food – 12 pack – Rabbit

Instinct Minced Wet Cat Food – 12 pack – Rabbit

Farm-raised rabbit, pork, eggs, liver, fruit, and vegetables make up this wet cat food.

Key Features:

  • Grain, potato, soy, and carrageenan free
  • Made in the USA
  • Taurine added

Cost: $24

Instinct Original Wet Canned Cat Food – 24 count – Beef

Instinct Original Wet Canned Cat Food – 24 count – Beef

Made with 95 percent cage-free chicken, Instinct also offers turkey, liver, fruits, and vegetables so your cat gets a well-balanced, species-appropriate diet.

Key Features:

  • Grain, carrageenan, and soy-free
  • Made in the USA
  • Taurine added

Cost: $18

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Wet Cat Food – 12 pk – Chicken & Duck

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Wet Cat Food – 12 pk – Chicken & Duck

The first three ingredients of this wet cat food include chicken, tuna, and duck.

Key Features:

  • Grain and gluten-free
  • Carrageenan and BPA free
  • Taurine added

Cost: $17

Dry Diet Cat Foods

Acana Regionals Protein Rich Dry Cat Food – Appalachian Ranch

Acana Regionals Protein Rich Dry Cat Food – Appalachian Ranch

Acana Regionals offers high-quality meats, such as ranch-raised beef, Yorkshire pork, grass-fed lamb, American bison, and freshwater catfish, along with organ meats, fruits, and vegetables for a prey-model kibble.

Key Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • 75/25 protein to carbohydrate ratio
  • Grain and gluten-free

Cost: $26

Instinct Raw Boost Dry Cat Food – Chicken

Instinct Raw Boost Dry Cat Food – Chicken

Introduce your furry friend to the benefits of raw food with Instinct Raw Boost kibble – combining grain-free kibble with freeze-dried, raw cage-free chicken.

Key Features:

  • Made in the USA, with non-GMO ingredients
  • Probiotics added
  • Includes chicken, turkey, fish, fruits, and vegetables

Cost: $25

Orijen Cat & Kitten High Protein Dry Cat Food

Orijen Cat & Kitten High Protein Dry Cat Food

Orijen Cat & Kitten provides your favorite furry with high-quality proteins, such as free-range chicken, turkey, flounder, herring, mackerel, cage-free eggs, and organ meat.

Key Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Grain and gluten-free
  • Wild-caught fish

Cost: $27

Orijen Fit & Trim High Protein Dry Cat Food

Orijen Fit & Trim High Protein Dry Cat Food

Orijen Fit & Trim is designed to keep your cat in healthy shape while delivering high-quality ingredients, such as chicken, organ meats, cage-free eggs, sardines, herring, and turkey.

Key Features:

  • Pasture-raised chicken and turkey, and wild-caught fish
  • Made in the USA
  • Grain and gluten-free

Cost: $28

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