Are you trying to choose the best high-protein cat food for your kitty? Cats need plenty of protein in their diet to stay healthy and to get plenty of energy. But what does 'high protein' mean and what else should you look out for in the cat food?

We've spent hours carefully compiling a list of the best high-protein cat food out there as well as everything you need to know about protein in a cat's diet. Read on to find out some fascinating information about cats and protein.

The 10 Top Rated High Protein Cat Foods

Allergens
Calories
First 5 ingredients
Dry Matter Basis
Rating
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Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe
Grain-free - contains deboned chicken and chicken meal. 
443 kcal/cup
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Peas.
Protein: 44% Fat: 20% Fiber: 4%
4.6
image-table-62537
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Dry Food
Contains chicken meal. Grain-free but may contain traces of grains.
425 kcal/cup
Chicken Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein.
Protein: 47% Fat: 20% Fiber: 3%
4.6
image-table-62538
Iams ProActive Health Chicken & Salmon
Contains chicken by-product meal, grains (including corn) and traces of soy.
439 kcal/cup
Chicken, Chicken Byproduct Meal, Corn Grits, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Salmon.
Protein: 42% Fat:20% Fiber: 3%
4.7
image-table-62540
ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Grain-free - contains chicken.
515 kcal/cup
Chicken, Turkey, Whole Mackerel, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Flounder.
Protein: 44% Fat: 22% Fiber: 3%
4.7
image-table-62541
Purina ONE True Instinct Chicken Recipe in Gravy
Contains chicken and soy protein concentrate.
70 kcal/3-oz can
Chicken Broth, Chicken, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Pork Lungs.
Protein: 55% Fat: 10% Fiber: 5%
4
image-table-62542
Diamond Naturals Active Chicken Meal & Rice Formula
No corn, wheat, artificial flavors, or colors. Contains chicken meal.
454 kcal/cup
Chicken Meal, Ground White Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed
Protein: 44% Fat: 22% Fiber: 3%
4.7
image-table-62543
Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg
No corn, wheat, or soy. No poultry by-product meal.
394 kcal/cup
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Pea Starch, Cassava Root Flour.
Protein: 40% Fat: 16% Fiber: 5%
4.6
image-table-62544
Crave With Protein from Chicken Grain-Free Food
No corn, wheat, or soy. No poultry by-product meal.
402 kcal/cup
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Split Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols).
Protein: 44% Fat: 20% Fiber: 4%
4.6
image-table-62547
Instinct Ultimate Protein Cage-Free Chicken Recipe
No corn, wheat, or soy. No animal by-product meal, potatoes.
491 kcal/cup
Chicken, Tapioca, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Ground Flaxseed, Natural Flavor.
Protein: 52% Fat: 19% Fiber: 3%
4.7
image-table-62548
Solid Gold Indigo Moon High Protein Dry Cat Food
No gluten, corn, wheat, or soy.
485 kcal/cup
Ocean Fish Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pollock.
Protein: 47% Fat: 22% Fiber: 3%
4.4

1 Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Adult Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Adult Dry Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand:Blue Buffalo
  • Allergens: Contains deboned chicken and chicken meal. Grain free
  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Peas, 
  • Primary Proteins: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal,
  • Calories: 443 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Type: Dry kibble
  • Life Stage: Adult

With a minimum of 40% protein content, Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free dry cat food is perfect for adult cats who enjoy a crunchy food packed with chicken taste. As well as real chicken, the ingredients list includes Menhaden Fish Meal to provide essential omega oils (omega 3 and 6) for coat and skin health.

There’s chicken fat for added taste and healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes which also support the immune system. The unique feature of this high protein cat food is the LifeSource Bits which are a blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. These are added to provide a healthy oxidative balance which helps your cat’s body to fend off disease. The grain-free cat food recipe is also free from chicken and poultry by-product meals.

Ingredients:

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Peas, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Egg Product, Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Calcium Chloride, Potassium Sulfate, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

What others say about it:
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I think this is a great price for Blue Buffalo and the cats love this food . Because of the great quality Blue Buffalo is we feed this also to our feral cats so that they can benefit from the nutritious ingredients they put in . And this is cheaper than buying in the store and with Chewy you don’t have to worry that it won’t be in stock.

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

Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand:Taste of the Wild
  • Allergens: Contains chicken meal. Grain free but may contain traces of grains
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken Meal, pea, potato protein, venison and salmon
  • Calories: 425 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Venison and smoked salmon
  • Type: Dry kibble
  • Life Stage: All stages

Taste of the Wild Dry Cat Food With Real Roasted And Smoked Meat, Fish Or Fowl contains a minimum of 42% protein. It delivers a balanced diet that cats would eat in the wild. In particular, cats love the combination of proteins provided by chicken meal, venison and salmon which also deliver a wide range of essential amino acids.

Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are provided by a list of super foods including blueberries, raspberries and sweet potatoes and these support general health. To further support cat’s digestion, immune system and over all health, this high quality dry food delivers several species of probiotic bacteria as well as prebiotic dried chicory root.

Ingredients:

Chicken Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Potato Protein, Roasted Venison, Smoked Salmon, Natural Flavor, Ocean Fish Meal, Dl-Methionine, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.

What others say about it:
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I have a long hair cashmere bengal Named Kassie may, she loves this food it makes her coat so shiny. Now her wet food she like Sheba she also loves the wet food of taste of the wild but she gets burned out on it lol I would highly recommend this

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3 Iams ProActive Health High Protein Chicken & Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food

Iams ProActive Health High Protein Chicken & Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand:IAMS
  • Allergens: Contains chicken by-product meal, grains (including corn) and traces of soy
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Byproduct Meal, Corn Grits, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Salmon,
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, Chicken Byproduct Meal and chicken meal
  • Calories: 439 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken and salmon
  • Type: Dry kibble
  • Life Stage: Adult

This high protein food for cats contains a minimum of 38% protein for building lean muscle mass and is suitable for indoor and outdoor cats. IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH High Protein Dry Cat Kibble, Chicken & Salmon features plenty of nutritional ingredients including chicken meal which contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate which are great for joint health. It also contains Dried Plain Beet Pulp for gut health and a range of vitamins and minerals.

However, there are grains in the recipe which may detract from the nutritional value and can cause allergies in some cats. There may also be traces of soy. One of the sources of protein is chicken by-product meal which can also cause problems for some cats.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Byproduct Meal, Corn Grits, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Salmon, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Sodium Bisulfate, Caramel Color, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Egg Product, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Fructooligosaccharides, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide), L-Carnitine.

What others say about it:
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I recently adopted a stray cat who I have been feeding for several months now. I wanted to get him eating a better quality food but he turned his nose up at everything I offered him that wasn’t meow mix. I have never fed my pets Iams but decided to give it a try and Domino LOVES it. I have never seen him devour dry food like this before! My other cats who eat science diet also enjoy it cause I have caught them literally eating out of the bag the knocked the clip of off! Very happy with this food and considering giving Iams a shot with my puppy!

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

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4 ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand:Orijen
  • Allergens: Contains chicken. Grain free
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Whole Mackerel, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Flounder, 
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, Turkey,
  • Calories: 515 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken, turkey and fish
  • Type: Dry kibble

As another high protein cat food, ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food has a minimum of 40% protein content. This is provided by animal protein from poultry and fish including flounder and mackerel. It is described as a whole prey diet to mimic that eaten by cats in nature. So, as well as chicken and turkey meat there is also turkey giblets and chicken liver as well as mackerel, founder and whole herring.

The recipe of this Orijen cat food is biologically appropriate in terms of protein and fat and even has freeze dried liver for extra flavor.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey, Whole Mackerel, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Flounder, Chicken Liver, Whole Herring, Eggs, Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Dehydrated Mackerel, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Chicken Fat, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Peas, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Chickpeas, Natural Chicken Flavor, Whole Navy Beans, Pollock Oil, Lentil Fiber, Pea Starch, Chicken Heart, Choline Chloride, Dried Kelp, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Whole Cranberries, Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Collard Greens, Whole Apples, Whole Pears, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Dried Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Citric Acid (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.

What others say about it:
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My vet suggested this food for my cat Ted. She says it’s close to how they would eat in nature. He is has been sick for a long time —inflammation of the intestines — he often is barfing up his food. This is staying down. And bonus his brother Bill likes it too.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

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5 Purina ONE True Instinct Chicken Recipe in Gravy Canned Cat Food

Purina ONE True Instinct Chicken Recipe in Gravy Canned Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand:Purina
  • Allergens: Contains chicken and soy protein concentrate
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Pork Lungs
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken and pork
  • Calories: 70 kcal/can
  • Flavor: Chicken recipe
  • Type: Wet canned food
  • Life Stage: All life stages

If your cat eats wet food, Purina ONE True Instinct Chicken Recipe in Gravy Canned Cat Food is a good high protein choice. Because a wet cat food will have a lot more moisture in it than kibble, the protein composition will be less. In this wet food it is 11% so it is suitable for a high protein diet.

The animal protein is provided by chicken and pork. Added to this are vitamins and minerals including Taurine for a healthy heart. It is a nutrient-rich food that has no fillers and some delicious gravy.

Ingredients:

Chicken Broth, Chicken, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Pork Lungs, Natural Flavors, Minerals (Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide), Salmon, Soy Protein Concentrate, Xanthan Gum, Vitamins (Choline, Vitamin E, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-3, Vitamin B-5, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-7, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3), Taurine, Carrageenan, Added Color. E431118

What others say about it:
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I always purchase Purina One True Instinct for my cats and they love this brand so I stick to it. Purina offers many choices for cats and we love them all!

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6 Diamond Naturals Active Chicken Meal & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food

Diamond Naturals Active Chicken Meal & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand:Diamond
  • Allergens: No corn, wheat, artificial flavors or colors. Contains chicken meal.
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Ground White Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed,
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken
  • Calories: 454 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken and rice
  • Type: Dry kibble
  • Life Stage: Active kittens and cats

This high protein cat food is very well enhanced with super foods giving your cat superior nutrition. The Diamond Naturals Active Chicken Meal & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food is produced by a family owned company in the USA. The protein content is 40% minimum making it a one of the high protein cat foods. However, it also contains many superfoods that provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. There’s kale, blueberries, pumpkin and a lot more.

This high protein food also has species specific probiotics, prebiotics for digestive health and omega fats for healthy skin and coat.

Ingredients:

Chicken Meal, Ground White Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Ground Miscanthus Grass, Sodium Bisulfate, Salmon Oil (Source Of Dha), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Kale, Chia Seed, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Oranges, Quinoa, Dried Kelp, Coconut, Spinach, Carrots, Papaya, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.

What others say about it:
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Got this for two young semi-feral cats who have become regular visitors. After doing a good amount of research, this appears to be one of the best options for full-body outdoor cat health at a very reasonable price. It has no corn or by-products and offers a lot of protein and fat which is vital during colder months. There are cheaper food options, but this one has so many more benefits like probiotics, omegas, and DL-Methionine for urinary health. I tried switching to Rachel Ray’s Nutrish because it was so cheap, but in comparison, Diamond Naturals offers so much more, and the kitties also like it better after switching back! I strongly believe feral cats deserve to be healthy and happy, and this food makes it possible without burning a hole through my wallet! Recommended!

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7 Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand: Purina
  • Allergens: No corn, wheat, or soy. No poultry by-product meal
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Pea Starch, Cassava Root Flour, 
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken
  • Calories: 394 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: White meat chicken and egg
  • Type: Dry kibble
  • Life Stage: Cats over 5 pound

Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food would be an ideal choice for cats that need a high protein diet but also need grain free recipes. Even though the protein content (35%) is slightly lower than some other products, it is provided by chicken that has been raised without steroids.

It meets your cat’s nutritional needs and is very easy to digest. There are no grains or gluten and no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors. The recipe features plenty of vitamins and minerals including taurine for a healthy heart as well as probiotics for digestive health.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Pea Starch, Cassava Root Flour, Dried Egg Product, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Dried Yeast, Canola Meal, Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Dried Carrots, Phosphoric Acid, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Bisulfate, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, MINERALS [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], VITAMINS [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product. C425919.

What others say about it:
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This is my fourth bag of the Purina beyond line. My cat had the salmon one which he loved so undoubtedly I knew he’d love the chicken bag. Like others raved, cats seem to really love this line. Thanks to chewy for the crazy fast service, we are so thankful for Chewy!

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8 Crave with Protein from Chicken Adult Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Crave with Protein from Chicken Adult Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand: Crave
  • Allergens: No corn, wheat, or soy. No poultry by-product meal
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Split Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken
  • Calories: 402 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Type: Dry kibble
  • Life Stage: Adult cat

If you are looking for a cat’s dry food in a resealable bag, this high protein cat food will tick all the boxes. Crave with Protein from Chicken Adult Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is suitable for adult cats and is packed with amino acids for building healthy muscle.

The protein content is 40% which is provided by high quality protein, namely real chicken and chicken meal which are the first two ingredients. There’s beet pulp for digestive health and plenty of vitamins and minerals. You won’t find any grains and no poultry by-product meal which can be a problem for allergies.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Split Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Tapioca, Fish Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potato Protein, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

What others say about it:
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As my cat reach mid-age, I thought to get him a healthier dry food: grain-free and more meat. The first impression of this dry food is that it smells like dry-freeze chicken bites, so I believe that there is more meat in it. Then when I transfer the food into the container, I didn’t see much greasy residue on the scoop and my hand. This is a thing that I’m always worried about, the dry foods are always too greasy, but this one doesn’t! I haven’t replaced his meal 100% with this, but so far so good, he seems to like it. Though my cat is not picky on food, I think this is still worth giving it a try.

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9 Instinct Ultimate Protein Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food

Instinct Ultimate Protein Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand: Solid Gold
  • Allergens: No corn, wheat, or soy. No animal by-product meal, potatoes
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Tapioca, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Ground Flaxseed, Natural Flavor,
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken
  • Calories: 491 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Type: Freeze dried
  • Life Stage: Adult cat

A calorie dense, freeze-dried food with a minimum of 47% protein which makes it one of the highest protein cat foods that you can buy. Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food is made with cage free chicken. A full 95% of protein in the recipe is made up of chicken. The recipe is based on the diet of wild cats.

There is no animal meal in the recipe making it one of the most digestible of the high protein cat foods. The freeze dried recipe also features high quality ingredients offering natural probiotics, natural omega oils and antioxidants for complete health.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Tapioca, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Ground Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Whey Protein Concentrate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Montmorillonite Clay, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Taurine, Freeze Dried Chicken, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Freeze Dried Chicken Heart, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

What others say about it:
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My cat, Kitty Girl, who passed away at almost 17, earlier this month, until kidney disease got her, would eat nothing but this food, including treats! It contains great ingredients, so I didn’t mind that she was eating dry food. It had to be fresh every day, though. I kept it sealed and fed them (I had gone through a few cats who passed away throughout Kitty Girl’s life.) twice a day after she had eaten it from an automatic feeder for a while. It must have been good! It’s hard now, because her kitty friend, whom I adopted in 2014, has insecurities and inappropriate elimination that has been attributed to behavioral problems since I got her in 2014 at age 6 or so, but she throws up every day at least twice. My point is that it is good food, and I wanted to let you know that it was the only thing Kitty would eat!

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10 Solid Gold Indigo Moon High Protein Wild Alaskan Dry Cat Food

Solid Gold Indigo Moon High Protein Wild Alaskan Dry Cat Food
Key features:
  • Allergens: No corn, wheat, or soy. No gluten
  • First 5 ingredients: Ocean Fish Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pollock,
  • Primary Proteins: Ocean fish and chicken
  • Calories: 485 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Alaskan pollock and egg
  • Type: Dry kibble
  • Life Stage: All life stages

Solid Gold – Indigo Moon – High Protein & Grain-Free – Holistic Dry Cat Food for All Life Stages is a dry food with a minimum of 42% protein. The primary protein source is fresh-caught Alaskan pollock that is also rich in omega oils.

This is a nutrient dense cat food that is completely free from grains and gluten. Unusually, the recipe also contains egg and super foods blueberries and cranberries. It is suitable for cats that lead active lifestyles as well as those that have diabetic health concerns.

Ingredients:

Ocean Fish Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pollock, Pea Protein, Tapioca, Dried Eggs, Ground Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Carrots, Pumpkin, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid), Taurine, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Blueberries, Cranberries, Dried Chicory Root, Rosemary Extract, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product.

What others say about it:
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I’ve been feeding my cats this food for months and they’ve been pretty happy with it. However this month i received a bag in poor quality. 85% of the bag was food dust. Cats are not happy. i am currently sifting the food to try and salvage the kibble.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

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High Protein Cat Food: Buying Guide & FAQs

How to Choose the Best High Protein Cat Food

You may think that there is not much to choose between the best high-protein cat foods but that is not the case. Here are the things that you can find out about the food that will help you choose between them.

  • Protein content. Some high-protein foods have around 30% protein but others have as much as 45%. There is also a difference depending on whether it is dry or wet food. Wet food has a lot of moisture in it whereas dry foods have very little moisture. To calculate the true protein content you have to take the moisture content into account.
  • Grains or grain-free. Cats need very little carbohydrate so there is no need for cat food to contain grains. Many owners prefer a grain-free product as they are thought to be better for cats with food sensitivities.
  • Artificial ingredients. Any artificial ingredients such as artificial preservatives or colors can cause problems for some cats. It is best to avoid products that are packed with artificial chemicals.
  • Protein source. It is not just the protein content that you need to take notice of. The source of the protein is also important. Real meat is a great source of protein as it is highly digestible by cats. Plant proteins are not so digestible and cats can’t obtain many amino acids from them.
  • Dry or wet food. This is a matter of choice for you and your cat. Wet cat food is messy and less convenient. On the other hand, it will tempt picky eaters and provide more moisture. Dry food is a lot easier to handle and produces less waste. It is also good for dental health. The downside is that it does not provide any hydration and this can be a problem as cats do not drink a lot. Also, not all cats will eat dry food as they do not find it so palatable.
  • Other ingredients. Look out for other high-quality ingredients in the foods as well as the protein source. Fish provide omega oils and probiotics are great for gut health and the immune system.

Advantages of a High Protein Diet

The protein content of food provides amino acids used for the growth and repair of tissue including muscle. Without protein, your cat’s body cannot make hair, skin, or organs. It could also not synthesize hormones and antibodies so protein is needed for all life processes.

When your cat ingests the protein in cat food it is broken down into amino acids which are then used to make tissue, hormones, and so on. If the correct proteins are not ingested, the cat’s body cannot make the substances that it needs.

Essential Amino Acids

Two amino acids, in particular, taurine and arginine, have to be obtained from meat and meat meal. Cats can make a small amount of taurine but not as much as they need to stay healthy. Taurine is essential for brain and eye development in kittens and for eye and heart health in adults. This is why it is so important for kittens to have plenty of protein in their diet. If a cat does not get enough taurine, its retina (at the back of the eye) can degenerate and it can go blind. Also, their heart may fail caused by dilated cardiomyopathy. There can also be problems with reproduction and the central nervous system.

If your cat does not ingest enough arginine, the levels of ammonia in their blood can rise to dangerous levels which can lead to neurologic symptoms, seizures, and death.

Energy Production

Many animals get most of their energy from carbohydrates but this is not true for cats. They get most of their energy from proteins. Their liver breaks down the protein and this helps to maintain glucose levels in the blood.

If there is not enough protein in your cat’s diet, its body will break down its muscle to release protein that it can use for energy and get the amino acids that it needs.

Cute cat near bowl with food at home

Plant-Based Protein vs. Meat Protein

Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they need proteins that they can only get from meat. Some other animals, including humans, can survive on plant proteins alone. However, cats must have real animal protein because they cannot get essential amino acids from any other source. Their digestion can only extract these proteins from meat. Their metabolism is very similar to that of lions and tigers. The best source of protein for cats is fresh meat or commercial food that contains plenty of meat. However, that does not mean that plant protein is not useful to them and plants can offer essential micronutrients.

What are Meat Proteins?

Meat proteins in cat food are provided by real meat and poultry such as real chicken or by meat or poultry meal such as turkey meal. The meal is an animal protein that has been ground down and had the water removed. A lot of cat parents don’t like the sound of it but it is actually a very concentrated form of protein and is therefore often found in high protein cat foods. Poultry meal does not contain feathers, feet, and entrails.

By-product meals are also dried and concentrated protein but contain organ meat. This is not always a bad thing as, in nature, a cat would eat most of the carcass of a small animal that they had caught. However, some owners feel that by-product meals trigger food sensitivities and stomach upsets and prefer to avoid them.

What are Plant Proteins?

Plant proteins in cat food are often provided by ingredients such as soy, sunflower, and peas. However, cats are not able to digest these very well and therefore cannot access the amino acids and energy that these proteins could provide. Plant proteins do not contain enough taurine or methionine to keep your cat healthy. Of course, cat food manufacturers add synthetic sources of these essential amino acids but they are not as digestible as the natural sources.

Which are Best?

The ideal cat food has a combination of both plant and animal protein but the largest proportion should be animal protein. This is because cats need essential amino acids that they cannot obtain from plant proteins and the concentration of amino acids is higher in meat.

Also, meat protein is more biologically available than plant proteins for cats and is, therefore, easier for your cat’s body to use. This is why meat proteins are called species-appropriate proteins for cats.

Sources:

  1. Do Cats Need High-Protein Cat Food? – PetMD
  2. The Importance of Digestibility for Cats – PetMD

FAQs:

High protein cat food will support lean muscle mass and keep your cat healthy. Your cat needs protein for essential amino acids but also to produce energy for important life processes. Cats need more protein in their diet than dogs – their metabolism is different. Experts do not always agree on the exact figures but in general a dog needs around 12% of their diet to be protein. Humans need only 8% of their diet to be protein and can live without animal proteins all together. Cats, on the other hand, need a diet made up of at least 26% protein to stay healthy.

There is a large selection of higher protein food and it can have a protein content ranging from 30% to 40% or even a little higher. So, what level of protein should you be aiming for? You can find the answer to this by looking at what your cat would eat if they had to find their own food! The protein content of an average mouse is around 55% so this would be suitable for most cats.

In practice, most cat food brands have a maximum of 45% protein content and anything around this is considered high protein.

Cat food needs to contain plenty of protein and the The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) have made recommendations to safeguard cat’s health. They state that cats need a minimum of 30% of protein for growth and reproduction during young and adult life stages. Adult cats need at least 26% to maintain basic life processes but probably need more for optimal health. This is the percentage that you should be looking for in dry food. The percentage in wet food will be less because it has so much moisture.

However, studies have shown that adult cats that were fed cat foods containing less that 40% protein lost lean body mass. This means that if you feed your cat a dry food with a protein content of between 30% and 38%, they could lose muscle mass.

Yes, high protein cats food is good for cats. However, poor-quality protein, or protein that is less digestible, will result in faster loss of muscle mass than high-quality protein. Therefore, it is also important to look at the source of protein in the ingredients list. Real meat from animal or poultry sources is always the best ingredient.

If your cat does not get enough protein, their body cannot function properly. This can affect them in many ways and is particularly dangerous for kittens and senior cats. Protein deficiency in cats can cause developmental disorders, a loss of muscle mass, recurring infections and problems with their coat.

Taurine deficiency can lead to eye, heart and digestive problems.

The best high protein food is packed with digestible protein that your cat’s body is able to break down. Protein digestibility describes the proportion of protein in the digestive tract that is absorbed by the body. The more digestible the protein is, the more will be taken into the body where it can be made use of. This is why digestibility is so important.

Unfortunately, the digestibility of a protein is not indicated on cat food labels but you may be able to find it on the manufacturer’s websites. As a rough guide, muscle meat is 92% digestible, organ meat is 90% digestible and fish is 75% digestible. On the other hand, corn is only 54% digestible for cats.

Protein digestion is governed by a number of factors. As we have already explained, animal protein is more digestible than plant proteins for cats. Higher quality, unprocessed meat will be more digestible than lower quality meat and this is often reflected in the price of the food. In general, cheaper foods are not as digestible.

Foods that contain too many different types of meats are also not so digestible because they can overwhelm the intestine. The balance of all the other micronutrients in the food is also important as is the similarity between the nutritional make up of the food and what your cat would catch in the wild.

Cats who have a healthy gut (and you can help with this by choosing foods with prebiotics and probiotics), and adult cats can digest food more efficiently. Kittens and seniors have a more delicate digestion.

Sharon Parry

Sharon is a Ph.D. scientist and experienced pet content writer. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a Cockapoo puppy. She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and turning it into easy-to-understand articles that offer practical tips. When it comes to our furry friends, she knows that there is always something new to learn!

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