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7 Best High Protein Cat Foods in 2022 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

persian cat eating dry food Finding the right food for your cat is no easy task. As a cat parent, you probably already know that cats need a high-protein, meat-based diet in order to be healthy. However, with endless options available, it can be difficult to decide which food is right for your kitty. We selected seven of the best high-protein cat foods and wrote reviews for each product. We hope that you can find a high-protein cat food that works for your cat and fits your budget!

A Glance At Our Favorites in 2022

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Smalls High Protein Raw Cat Food Smalls High Protein Raw Cat Food
  • Up to 54% protein
  • Contains human grade animal products
  • Made in the USA
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Dry Cat Food Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Dry Cat Food
  • Contains 40% protein
  • Good value
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • Third place
    Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • 90% poultry and fish ingredients; no fillers
  • Contains 40% protein
  • Helps cats develop healthy and shiny fur
  • Best for Kittens
    Wellness CORE Turkey & Chicken Canned Cat Food Wellness CORE Turkey & Chicken Canned Cat Food
  • Soy, Corn, and Grain-free
  • Appetizing flavor
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Dry Cat Food Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Dry Cat Food
  • 40% protein
  • Made with real chicken
  • The 7 Best High Protein Cat Foods

    1. Smalls Human-Grade Raw Cat Food – Best Overall

    Main ingredients: Turkey thigh, chicken liver, green beans
    Packaging Type: Bag
    Life Stage: Adult
    Food Form: Fresh and Freeze Dried
    Special Diet Considerations: Grain-free, soy-free, corn-free, wheat-free

    Smalls human-grade raw cat foods have only been on the market for a few years but they have proved themselves to be an excellent choice in that time. With options of either freeze-dried or human-grade fresh products, you will definitely find a food your feline friend will enjoy. With 54% protein in the fresh turkey option, and well over 40% in the other flavors, as well as being made of over 80% animal product, it is one of the highest protein foods on the market.

    When choosing products on their website, they ask you to answer a few questions before you complete your order to ensure that your cat is getting the best product for their individual needs. With its excellent customer service and high protein content, we think that overall, Smalls is the best high protein cat food on the market today.

    Pros
    • 54% protein
    • Made with human grade animal protein
    • No added preservatives

    Cons
    • Pricey compared to other options
    • Contains small amounts of vegetable oil


    2. Diamond Naturals Active Dry Cat Food – Best Value

    Diamond Naturals Active Cat

    Main ingredients: Chicken meal, ground white rice, chicken fat, natural flavor, flaxseed
    Packaging Type: Bag
    Life Stage: All life stages
    Food Form: Dry food
    Special Diet Considerations: Corn, pea, wheat, and soy-free

    If you’re looking for a high-protein cat food made with honest ingredients at a better value, don’t sleep on Diamond Naturals Active Chicken Meal & Rice Formula dry food. We think this is the best high-protein cat food you can buy for the money. This cat food could be a good choice for households with cats of different ages as it is made for all life stages. The Diamond Naturals Active formula also includes probiotics to support your kitty’s health and digestion and DHA, which helps support brain and vision health. One thing to note is that cats were pickier when it came to this food than some of the other options on our list.

    Pros
    • Contains 40% protein
    • Real chicken is the first ingredient
    • Good value

    Cons
    • Some cats don’t enjoy the taste


    3. Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Main ingredients: Chicken, turkey, whole mackerel, turkey giblets, flounder
    Packaging Type: Bag
    Life Stage: Adult
    Food Form: Dry food
    Special Diet Considerations: Grain-free, gluten-free, corn-free, soy-free

    Orijen Original Grain-Free dry cat food made the list as our third choice. This kibble is made with a variety of natural foods, including turkey, chicken, fish, and eggs. It is extremely nutritious thanks to Orijen’s “whole prey” philosophy of including every part of the animal, including organs and bones. One thing you should note before purchasing is that the Orijen Original Grain-Free formula was recently changed and some cats and cat owners don’t like it as much as the original version.

    Pros
    • 90% poultry and fish ingredients; no fillers
    • Contains 40% protein
    • Helps cats develop healthy and shiny fur

    Cons
    • Pricey compared to other options
    • Large morsels are hard for cats to eat
    • New formula not as good as the original


    4. Wellness CORE Turkey & Chicken Canned Kitten Food – Best for Kittens

    Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Turkey & Chicken Liver Pate Canned Kitten Food

    Main ingredients: Turkey, chicken liver, turkey broth, chicken, chicken meal
    Packaging Type: Can
    Life Stage: Kitten
    Food Form: Wet food
    Special Diet Considerations: Gluten-free, soy-free, wheat-free, corn-free, pea-free, grain-free

    You may not think about it much, but kittens have different dietary needs than adult cats. They are still growing, which means their protein requirements are even higher than that of a fully-grown cat. We think the Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Turkey & Chicken Liver Pate canned kitten food is the best high-protein food for kittens you can buy. As you can see from the top five ingredients, this wet food is made up of real, whole animals to provide your kittens with the most nutritional benefit possible. It also contains DHA and is free from preservatives. While kitten owners don’t love the smell of this food, kittens love the taste!

    Pros
    • Soy, Corn, and Grain-free
    • Appetizing flavor

    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Unpleasant smell


    5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free

    Main ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, pea protein, tapioca starch, peas
    Packaging Type: Bag
    Life Stage: Adult
    Food Form: Dry food
    Special Diet Considerations: Grain-free, soy-free, corn-free, wheat-free

    We think Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe is an excellent choice for a high-protein cat food that’s on the market today. Suitable for adult cats, this dry food is made with real chicken and healthy carbs such as sweet potatoes and peas. In addition to high-quality, real ingredients, this formula includes LifeSource Bits, which are Blue Buffalo’s blend of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that will help maintain your cat’s immune system and overall health. This food comes in four different sizes, providing options for both single-cat and multi-cat households. The primary downside of this cat food is that it is more expensive than other, more mainstream options on the market, but we think the nutritional benefit is worth the price.

    Pros
    • 40% protein
    • Made with real chicken

    Cons
    • Pricey compared to other options
    • High calorie count compared to other brands


    6. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Main ingredients: Chicken meal, peas, sweet potatoes, chicken fat, pea protein, potato protein
    Packaging Type: Bag
    Life Stage: Adult
    Food Form: Dry food
    Special Diet Considerations: Grain-free, corn-free, wheat-free

    Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain is the highest-protein option on our list, so if you are looking for a food that is really going to deliver the maximum protein punch, this is it. This formula contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin E, and folic acid to help support healthy bones and an overall healthy body. It also contains added probiotics and antioxidants to promote a healthy digestive system and immune system. Cats generally approve of the taste of this product, though the kibble crumbles easily in the bag. It’s also important to note that while the product advertises salmon and venison as the main ingredients, the first ingredient is actually chicken meal.

    Pros
    • Formulated with probiotics
    • Contains 42% protein

    Cons
    • Crumbly kibble
    • First ingredient is chicken despite advertisement for salmon and venison


    7. Purina ONE Grain-Free Ocean Whitefish Dry Cat Food

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

    Main ingredients: Ocean whitefish, chicken meal, pea starch, cassava root flour, soy protein isolate
    Packaging Type: Bag
    Life Stage: Adult
    Food Form: Dry food
    Special Diet Considerations: Grain-free

    The final cat food on our list, Purina ONE True Instinct Natural Grain-Free cat food with whitefish is another excellent option for fish-loving cat parents hoping to boost their kitty’s protein intake. In addition to added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, this cat food also contains omega-6 fatty acids, which will help your cat’s coat stay shiny and healthy. As opposed to other dry foods that only contain kibble, this cat food actually contains a mixture of crunchy kibble and morsels of meat, dubbed the SmartBlend by Purina. Your cat will love the variety of textures and flavors this cat food has to offer, but beware that it may be too rich for some cats.

    Pros
    • Contains 35% protein
    • Real whitefish is the first ingredient
    • Omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants added to keep your cat’s coat healthy

    Cons
    • Too rich for some cats

    Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best High Protein Cat Food

    Why high protein?

    Cats are carnivores, which means they need to eat animal protein. In the wild, cats eat primarily mice, frogs, insects, reptiles, rabbits, and birds. Though they don’t typically hunt for their own food, domestic cats need the same level of nutrition. Since cats are carnivores, it should come as no surprise that protein is a very important source of energy for cats. If it doesn’t get enough protein, your cat’s body will start to break down its own muscle tissue. While dogs need about 12% protein and humans just 8%, adult cats need at least 26% protein in their diet to prevent losing lean body mass. Providing your cat with a high-protein diet will help it stay healthy and strong.

    How much protein is considered high protein?

    Cat food is considered high-protein if it contains at least 30% protein. Each of the products on this list meets this requirement, with some products surpassing 40%. When choosing a product, keep your cat’s age in mind. Some products are formulated specifically for kittens or senior cats, both of whom have higher protein needs than younger adult cats. For older cats, look for cat food that is made up of about 50% protein.

    How to read the ingredients

    When it comes to protein, it’s not just about quantity, but also quality. Lower-quality protein is less digestible than high-quality protein, which means it will result in muscle mass loss more quickly. Always read the first five ingredients of a cat food before purchasing it. The highest quality cat foods contain real meat as the first ingredient. Meat meal is also considered to be an adequate source of protein, though it is not as high-quality as real meat.

    Conclusion

    For the best overall high-protein cat food, the Smalls human grade raw food wins due to its high-quality, real ingredients and many different protein options. For kittens, we highly recommend Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Turkey & Chicken Liver Pate Canned Kitten Food, which is formulated specifically for kittens and chock full of high-quality ingredients. We know you have many choices when it comes to high-protein cat food, but we hope our reviews have helped you choose a product that will work for both you and your cat!


    Featured Image Credit: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

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