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10 Best High-Calorie Cat Foods for Weight Gain in 2021 – Reviews And Top Picks

grey shorthair cat eating

First things first: before you find the best food to help your cat gain weight, make sure you know why they lost it, to begin with. The reasons why your cat may lose weight are many and varied. Until you deal with any underlying condition, the best high-calorie cat food money can buy won’t help your cat gain weight.

Once you and your veterinarian have diagnosed and treated whatever is causing the weight loss, it’s time to help your kitty start bulking up! To gain weight correctly, your cat needs to eat about 20% more calories than they normally would. We’ve rounded up reviews of the 10 best high-calorie cat foods for weight gain. Hopefully, this information can help you and your veterinarian decide how to help your cat get back to a healthy size.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Royal Canin Recovery RS Canned Diet Royal Canin Recovery RS Canned Diet
  • Specifically formulated for weight gain
  • Easy texture to chew and swallow
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Iams Proactive Health High Protein Chicken And Salmon Iams Proactive Health High Protein Chicken And Salmon
  • 2 different protein sources
  • High calories per cup
  • Affordable
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Hill’s Prescription a/d Diet Urgent Care Hill’s Prescription a/d Diet Urgent Care
  • High in essential nutrients
  • Soft enough to use in feeding tubes
  • Most cats love the taste
  • Nutri-Cal Gel High-Calorie Supplement Nutri-Cal Gel High-Calorie Supplement
  • A quick source of calories for kittens
  • Easy to feed
  • High in vitamins
  • Solid Gold Indigo Moon With Chicken And Eggs High-Protein Solid Gold Indigo Moon With Chicken And Eggs High-Protein
  • Nutrient-dense
  • Made with cage-free chicken
  • Grain-free
  • The 10 Best High-Calorie Cat Foods For Weight Gain – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Royal Canin Recovery RS Canned Diet – Best Overall

    Protein: 4%
    Fat:  2%
    Calories:  163 kcal/1-ounce can
    Top ingredients:  Water sufficient for processing, chicken, chicken liver

    Our choice of best overall high-calorie food for weight gain in cats is the Royal Canin Recovery canned food. This is a prescription, veterinary diet designed to provide extra nutritional support to cats who are recovering from illness or who need added calories and protein for other reasons. The texture and taste especially appeal to cats with poor or picky appetites. Recovery RS packs a high-calorie content into each can, ensuring that even if your cat only eats a small amount, they get as much nutrition as possible. This canned food also mixes easily into dry diets or with other canned foods to add a little extra calorie kick. The downside of this diet is it does require a veterinary prescription and it’s expensive compared to other options. But this diet was literally created to help cats gain weight and we think it’s worth the money.

    Pros
    • Specifically formulated for weight gain
    • Easy texture to chew and swallow

    Cons

    • Requires a prescription
    • Expensive


    2. Iams Proactive Health High Protein Chicken And Salmon – Best Value

    Protein: 38%
    Fat:  18%
    Calories:  439 kcal/cup
    Top ingredients:  Chicken, Chicken by product meal, corn grits

    As the best high-calorie cat food for weight gain for the money, we’ve selected Iams Proactive Health High Protein Chicken and Salmon dry food. Canned cat food is usually the best option when you’re trying to get your cat to gain weight because your cat gets more nutrients in a smaller amount of food. However, canned food is also more expensive than dry. If you need a high protein and calorie count in more affordable food, this Iams diet is a worthwhile option to consider. It contains two different protein sources and is highly digestible, helping to make sure your cat absorbs as much nutrition as possible. Because it’s a lower-cost option, this food does contain corn and chicken by-products, which aren’t necessarily unhealthy ingredients but some owners prefer to avoid them.

    Pros
    • 2 different protein sources
    • High calories per cup
    • Affordable

    Cons

    • Contains some lower quality ingredients
    • Some cats don’t like fish-based foods


    3. Hill’s Prescription a/d Diet Urgent Care – Premium Choice

    Protein: 5% min
    Fat:  2% min
    Calories:  180 kcal/5.5-ounce can
    Top ingredients:  Water, turkey, liver, pork liver

    Our premium choice high-calorie cat food is another prescription diet, Hill’s a/d Canned Food Urgent Care. This diet is similar in purpose to the Recovery RS but slightly more expensive. Like Recovery, this diet was developed with undernourished cats in mind. The texture is soft and the odor and taste are strong to entice cats with picky appetites. Hill’s a/d uses liver as its protein source. Organ meats such as the liver are high in many essential nutrients that can benefit cats trying to gain weight. This food isn’t designed to be fed to healthy cats at a normal weight so don’t buy too much if your cat won’t need it for long.

    Pros
    • High in essential nutrients
    • Soft enough to use in feeding tubes
    • Most cats love the taste

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Slightly lower in calories than competitors
    • Requires a prescription


    4. Nutri-Cal Gel High-Calorie Supplement – Best for Kittens

    Protein: 2%
    Fat:  30%
    Calories:  28 kcal/teaspoon
    Top ingredients:  Corn syrup, soybean oil, malt syrup

    The best high-calorie food for kittens is technically a supplement rather than a complete diet but for kittens who are struggling to thrive, Nutri-Cal can be life-saving. Kittens, especially sick or underweight ones, can have trouble keeping their blood sugar at a safe level. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can be life-threatening. Small amounts of Nutri-Cal can give a kitten who’s not eating well a quick shot of calories and energy, helping keep their blood sugar normal. Nutri-Cal can also provide extra calories and fat to older cats trying to gain weight. Because it’s not a complete diet, you can’t feed just Nutri-Cal to your cat long-term. For underweight kittens, the goal is to get them to survive long-term and Nutri-Cal is effective at helping achieve that goal.

    Pros
    • A quick source of calories for kittens
    • Easy to feed
    • High in vitamins

    Cons

    • Not a complete diet
    • Can be messy and sticky


    5. Solid Gold Indigo Moon With Chicken And Eggs High-Protein

    Protein: 42%
    Fat:  20%
    Calories:  475 kcal/cup
    Top ingredients:  Chicken meal, potatoes, canola oil

    This Solid Gold Chicken and Egg dry food offers one of the highest protein, fat, and calories per cup of any kibble diet. If your underweight cat can eat dry food, this is one of the most nutrient-dense options to offer. Both grain and gluten-free, this food is also made with all-natural, cage-free chicken for those owners who prioritize those types of food standards. This food does have a carbohydrate—potatoes—high on the ingredient list. While cats can digest and use carbs in their diet, many owners prefer cat foods with more meat sources as top ingredients. This food is more expensive than other dry food options and some cats don’t like the crumbly texture.

    Pros
    • Nutrient-dense
    • Made with cage-free chicken
    • Grain-free

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Texture doesn’t appeal to all cats


    6. Purina ProPlan Savor Classic Chicken Grain-free Kitten Entree

    Protein: 12%
    Fat:  6%
    Calories:  112 kcal/3-ounce can
    Top ingredients:  Chicken, liver, water sufficient for processing

    When it comes to non-prescription diets for weight gain, kitten food is often recommended because it’s designed with higher calories and protein to boost growth. Purina ProPlan Savor Classic Chicken food is a strong choice thanks to its extra high protein and fat. Like Hill’s a/d, it uses liver as a protein source but the price of this diet is much more affordable. ProPlan Savor comes in a smaller can than the Recovery or Hill’s but still packs a high-calorie count. This diet will also appeal to owners who prefer feeding grain-free diets. Some cats may not like the taste and texture of this food compared to some of the other choices.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • High protein and fat content
    • Grain-free

    Cons

    • Small can
    • The taste may not appeal to all cats


    7. Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Turkey And Chicken Liver Kitten Food

    Protein: 12%
    Fat:  5%
    Calories:  108 kcal/3-ounce can
    Top ingredients:  Turkey, chicken liver, turkey broth

    Meat ingredients are first, second, and third on the list for Wellness Core Grain-free Kitten food. That and the lack of grains, by-products, and any artificial ingredients are the major selling points of this high-calorie food option. This food has a higher fat content, but a lower calorie per can than the Purina ProPlan diet we just reviewed. Wellness Core is slightly more affordable, however. Some cats don’t seem to like the taste of this food so keep that in mind if you are buying for a cat who’s already picky or still getting their appetite back. It does come in both a small 3-ounce can and a larger 5.5-ounce can if it turns out your cat is a fan of this food.

    Pros
    • Prioritizes natural ingredients
    • 2 can sizes to choose from

    Cons

    • Not all cats like the taste


    8. Purina One True Instinct High Protein Grain-free Dry Cat Food

    Purina ONE True Instinct Natural Grain-Free with Ocean Whitefish Dry Cat Food

    Protein: 35%
    Fat:  14%
    Calories:  365 kcal/cup
    Top ingredients:  Chicken, Chicken meal, pea starch

    This dry food is an affordable option that uses higher quality ingredients than some other value-priced foods. Purina One True Instinct has lower protein and fat than the other dry foods we reviewed but still a decent calorie per cup count. Again, cats that need to gain weight but also don’t have much of an appetite are probably better off eating a canned diet. However, not all cats will eat canned food, and if yours is one of them this diet is one to consider. It also could be a good dry food to try mixing in a higher-calorie, more expensive food like Recovery or Hill’s a/d.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Grain-free

    Cons

    • Picky eaters may not like it


    9. Earthborn Holistic Monterey Medley Grain-free Natural Canned Food

    Protein: 12%
    Fat:  2%
    Calories:  121 kcal/5.5 -ounce can
    Top ingredients:  Fish broth, skipjack tuna, mackerel

    This diet is an option for the skinny cat who just needs something a little bit different to tempt their appetite. Earthborn Holistic Monterey Medley is full of fish chunks and fish gravy, providing a different protein source than the other foods we reviewed. Cats who don’t feel up to chewing yet may enjoy licking the fishy broth, which will help keep them hydrated as well as provide nutrition. This food has a low-fat content, which is less ideal for gaining weight. In addition, some cats don’t handle fish-based diets well and may develop digestive issues, such as diarrhea.

    Pros
    • Interesting texture
    • Protein source is easy to digest

    Cons

    • Lower fat content
    • Fish foods aren’t tolerated by all cats


    10. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Chicken Grain-Free Canned

     

    Protein: 5%
    Fat:  9%
    Calories:  118 kcal/3-ounce can
    Top ingredients:  Chicken, Chicken broth, Chicken Liver

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness is made with real meat as the first ingredient but has lower protein than some other canned foods we reviewed. On the other hand, it is nutrient-dense, grain-free, and contains nutritious liver. This food is a reasonable choice to help your cat gain weight. Reportedly, the quality of the food is inconsistent and some cats don’t care for the slimier texture. It’s only available in small cans and is a bit more expensive than some other foods we reviewed. This flavor seems to either be a hit or a miss with cats so consider picking up a can or two to see if your cat likes it rather than buying a full case.

    Pros
    • Made without artificial ingredients or preservatives
    • Nutrient-dense

    Cons

    • Inconsistent quality
    • Taste and texture don’t appeal to all cats


    Buyer’s Guide

    Before you make your final decision about what high-calorie food is best for your cat, here are a few things to consider:

    Your Cat’s Health Conditions

    If your cat is underweight due to a health condition, consult your veterinarian as you decide on what food to feed for weight gain. Cats with certain medical concerns might have different nutritional requirements. For example, cats with kidney disease should eat a low protein diet, but higher protein is recommended for gaining weight. Your vet can help you balance out your cat’s needs to determine the best food to eat.

    sick cat wagging its tail

    Nutritional Content of The Food

    With so many different cat foods to choose from, the pet food companies are all competing for your hard-earned dollars. This can lead many of them to rely on buzzwords like “real meat” or “grain-free” that make you buy their food but don’t necessarily equal better nutrition for your cat. Learn how to read and compare pet food labels and ingredients to help you make the right choice of high-calorie cat food.

    Canned Or Dry?

    Canned food is usually more nutrient-dense and helps keep your cat hydrated as they try to get back to a healthy weight. However, especially if your cat has only ever eaten dry food, they may refuse canned food. If your cat won’t eat, they won’t gain weight no matter how many calories the food contains. Try soaking dry food in water to soften it if your cat is having a hard time chewing. You can also mix in some canned food or even Nutri-Cal to get more calories into your diehard kibble eater.

    dry dog food in bowl
    Image Credit: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock

    Transitioning Back To Regular Food

    If your cat successfully gains weight on the high-calorie food you choose, at some point you’ll need to transition them back to a regular diet or you may end up with a cat whose weight has swung too far in the other direction! Changing a cat’s diet should be done slowly to avoid any digestive upset. As you choose a high-calorie diet, check to see if the brand also has a similar diet without high calories but the same protein sources that you could transition to. This could make the change easier on your cat especially if you finally get your picky cat to eat a certain food.

    Conclusion

    As the best overall high-calorie food for weight gain in cats, Royal Canin Recovery offers superior nutrition in easy-to-feed, extra soft canned food form. Our best value pick, the Iams High Protein Chicken and Salmon is an affordable dry food option that’s made with a double dose of high protein sources. We hope our reviews of these and the other eight high-calorie foods on our list help you wade through the crowd of cat food options available to you. Always remember to seek veterinary care first to find out why your cat is losing weight before jumping straight to helping them gain it back.


    Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

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