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Last updated: 09 Sep 2019

The Best High Calorie Cat Food for Weight Gain (Review) in 2019

Blue Buffalo Healthy Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Healthy Dry Cat Food

Natural Balance Diets Green Dry Cat Food

Natural Balance Diets Green Dry Cat Food

Iams Proactive Healthy Cat Food

Iams Proactive Healthy Cat Food

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Dr Tracy Douglas
Published 13:55 pm

While obesity is a common problem in many cats, some have the exact opposite issue of being underweight. And if this is the case, the best way that you are going to get them back up to normal weight is with the best cat food for weight gain.

If your cat is underweight, they face a number of health risks including anemia, so it is important that you take action. Providing a high calorie cat food is one of the best and easiest ways that you can help them put on some weight, but it should never be a cover-up for any underlying health concerns, so always work in conjunction with your vet to find out if anything else is negatively affecting your kitty.

In this article, we have compiled a selection of 10 of the best high-calorie cat foods out there, plus an overview of all the key features that make them so special.

The Best Cat Food for Weight Gain

1

Formulated especially for kittens, this cat food for weight gain features real meat as its number one ingredient. Protein is especially important as it is designed to support the healthy growth of your young cat. Supplementing this is a range of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. 

Another feature is the LifeSource bits, which contain a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These all help to give the immune system of your little kitty a boost. But you can also rest assured that there are no by-product meals, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives

Specification:
  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 64
  • Weight: 7.1 pounds

2

Second on the list, we have this dry cat food which follows the limited ingredient philosophy of not packing recipe with unnecessary fillers. The number one ingredient is real poultry – in this case chicken with green peas. 

Many people believe that one of the main advantages of this limited ingredient food is that it offers digestive support to your four-legged friend. Plus, it also helps your pooch to look their very best with a beautiful shiny coat and healthy skin.  

Specification:
  • Brand: Natural Balance
  • Model: 52517
  • Weight: 10.4 pounds

3

You will already be well aware just how important protein is in a cat’s diet, and this high calorie cat food sources 84% of it from chicken and salmon. Protein from meat is so essential to your cat in providing their daily energy source and supporting their heart health.

Many cats can suffer from some sort of digestive issues, so this food aims to help with its blend of prebiotics and beet pulp. And there are none of the things that your cat doesn’t need like artificial dyes and preservatives.

Specification:
  • Brand: Iams
  • Model: 10161970
  • Weight: 6 pounds

4

Blue Wilderness is one of the leaders in cat food, and this is another success story from them – packed with deboned chicken. As for the complex carbohydrates, these come from the sweet potatoes. 

And Blue Wilderness also utilize vegetables and superfoods like cranberries, blueberries, and carrots. At the same time, they leave out many of the things that cats don’t need and have been shown to cause digestive issues such as grains, glutens, and by-product meals.

 

Specification:
  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Weight: 2.1 pounds

5

You should always be on the lookout for cat food that lists a real protein source as its number one ingredient. In this case, it is real chicken. Protein has all sorts of positive benefits to a cat and one of them is supporting strong muscles.

But it is also important to judge a great cat food on what isn’t included. In this case, there are no artificial flavors or preservatives – and 0% of the food is made up of fillers, which is certainly a statistic that is worth bragging over. 

Specification:
  • Brand: Purina ONE
  • Model: 178615
  • Weight: 16 pounds

6

If you prefer to give your kitty a high calorie wet cat food, this is a good possible option for you. As always with Blue Wilderness, real meat is the primary source of protein. In this case, it is from chicken – without any by-products. 

It is also important to talk about the things that it doesn’t contain. In this case, it is corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, and preservatives. Oh, and it is also 100% grain-free as well.

Specification:
  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 800449
  • Weight: 10.6 pounds

7

Designed to provide complete and balanced nutrition, this one is suitable for cats of all breeds. Again, this one has been developed using the limited ingredient philosophy of not over-packing the food with unnecessary extras. 

As well as offering the digestive support that your kitty needs, it also leaves them with healthy skin and a shiny coat. And who doesn’t want their furry friend to look their very best?

Specification:
  • Brand: Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance
  • Model: 52510
  • Weight: 10.2 pounds

8

Specially formulated for little kittens, this high calorie cat food for weight gain dry cat food is designed to give your little ball of fluff everything they need to develop into a big, strong adult. The nutrients included are designed to mimic their mother’s milk.

As for the kibble itself, it has been made in an especially small size which makes it easier for little mouths to pick up and enjoy. 

Specification:
  • Brand: Iams
  • Model: 10146542
  • Weight: 3.8 pounds

9

Providing a rich diet and core nutrition for cats are just two of the underlying principles of this grain-free cat food manufacturer. All the ingredients are natural, but there are also some added vitamins and minerals to support various areas of your cat’s body. The omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids help to ensure a coat that is luxurious, soft, and shiny.

Specification:
  • Brand: Nature’s Variety
  • Model: 769949709190
  • Weight: 5.1 pounds

10

Last up on our list, we have this pet food that contains no starch ingredients. The high meat content is supposed to mimic the kind of diet that your cat would have done in the wild. Flavor is obviously important in a cat food as well, and this one aims to recreate the natural flavor that cats desire so strongly. Plus, it is packed with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.

Specification:
  • Brand: Wysong
  • Model: n/a
  • Weight: 5.1 pounds

Best Cat Food For Weight Gain Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Look for in a High Calorie Cat Food

If you have an underweight cat who needs to put on a few pounds, you need to look out for certain elements of their weight management cat food that are going to help them do this. However, you don’t want them to just put on fat - they also need to build their muscle mass. So, we have broken down a few of the main features that can be useful.

  • High Calorie Content 

The first and most obvious element of a high calorie cat food that you should be on the lookout for is a high calorie content. This is the only way that you are going to help your furry friend to start putting on weight. If you choose a food that is higher in calories than your current batch, it means that you won’t have to drastically change their feeding schedule and the portion sizes that you offer. If you have recently adopted a cat who is malnourished, this is particularly important as it can be very difficult to get them to eat on a regular basis.

  • Limited Ingredients 

While you may think that it is counterintuitive to offer your cat a limited ingredient food if you are trying to help your cat gain weight, there is a logic to this approach. It follows that may underweight cats are suffering from some sort of digestive issues or malnourishment. Limited ingredient foods are particular about ingredients they choose to include, so there is less likelihood that there is anything in there that is going to negatively affect their digestion and therefore their weight gain efforts. You may also be able to put your finger on what is causing their allergic reactions.

  • Premium Proteins 

Cats need a high amount of protein to function properly, and the best source of this is from real animal meat. So, always look for this as the number one ingredient. Premium proteins have a number of positive effects including helping your cat to both gain weight and build muscle. The protein sources that come from meat by-products are likely to be less helpful in their weight gaining efforts.

Cat eats

  • High Fat Content 

On average, cats need around 9% fat in their diet, so this should be a minimum requirement. But cats who need to put on weight can benefit from consuming more fat. Aim to look for the food that contains 20% or more in fat. Of course, make sure that it doesn’t neglect all the other essential ingredients in proper cat nutrition. You don’t want your kitty to only put on fat and risk going too far the other way.

  • Flavor 

If you want your cat to put on a few pounds, you are never going to be able to do it with a food that they simply don’t enjoy! If there is a specific ingredient that you know your cat enjoys, this is a good starting point. But if you are looking in more general terms, you should go for a food that is high in both flavor and moisture.

  • No Artificial Additives 

The best cat food manufacturers don’t stock their products with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. And many of them make a point of not including these ingredients, so this is certainly worth looking out for. Instead, you should focus on the type of high-quality, natural ingredients that are going to provide them with nice, balanced nutrition.

Ingredients to Avoid in a Cat Food For Weight Gain

While there are plenty of ingredients that can be beneficial, there are also one or two to avoid - particularly in high quantities. So, let’s look closer at a few ingredients to avoid for cat weight gain.

  • Too Much Fat 

While we talked earlier about giving your cat a food with a higher fat content, this doesn’t mean that you should risk going overboard. Too much fat can lead to its health issues - particularly if overweightness or obesity set in. So, as your cat is gaining weight, you should keep track of whether it is muscle or fat they are putting on. You may need to take corrective steps if it is too much of the latter.

  • Too Many Carbohydrates

Cats don’t gain calories from a lot of carbohydrates - particularly if you feed them on a dry food diet. Many cats don’t process carbs properly, so they are not an efficient use of space in their food. Some people make the mistake of thinking that because we gain weight from things like pasta and bread, our cats are going to do the same. But you should always bear in mind that your cat’s digestive system is very different from your own.

Why You Should Feed Your Cat High Calorie Cat Food

There are plenty of reasons why a high calorie cat food cat be beneficial to your kitty. Let’s look at a few of these in the following section.

  • An Easy Weight Gain Method 

If your cat has a normal appetite, it can feel difficult to give them enough food to pile on the pounds. But if you switch to a high calorie cat food, you are giving them more calories without having to feed them more often. Also, it doesn’t involve having to give them any additional supplements or switch them onto a radical diet.

  • Battles Weight Loss Through Illness

Many cats lose weight due to some underlying health conditions and need to put the pounds back on once again. Often, this is due to hyperthyroidism or a parasitic infection of some description. If this is the case, your cat may continue eating normally but they are simply unable to put on weight. This type of food can be invaluable in helping them to maintain their good health.

  • Good for Cats with Plenty of Energy

Though it is a less common reason why cats lose weight, some of them simply have too much energy and are burning off the calories quicker than they can put it on again. So, the switch to a high calorie cat food can be beneficial as it helps them to maintain a healthy weight without needing to switch up their diet in a big way

How to Put Weight on a Cat

So, you have selected the right food to encourage your cat to gain weight, but you’re not sure of the actual steps of how you are going to go about this. Never fear; we are here with a few helpful tips and hints.

  • Know Their Ideal Weight 

If you know your cat’s ideal weight, you have a very clear target that you are aiming at. This will also reduce the risk that you are going to go overboard, feed them too much, and risk them becoming obese. Consult with your vet about the ideal weight of your cat and a timescale of how quickly you can get them there.

  • Implement Structured Feeding Times 

If you have not been feeding your cat at a structured time every day, now is the time to get into this routine. Rather than leaving food down all day - which becomes somewhat disinteresting over time - you can turn feeding time into an event, which helps to build excitement levels. If you have a very malnourished cat, you may need to start off with smaller portions and build these up over time.

  • Make the Food More Appetizing 

If your cat simply doesn’t seem to get excited at mealtimes, you could try making their food more appealing and appetizing. Try heating up their meals as this will release their aromas and should have your cat salivating.

  • Weight Gain Supplements and Treats 

If you have a severely malnourished cat who needs to put on weight quickly, you should consider what sort of cat weight gain supplements are available to speed up the process. These can be especially useful to cats who struggle to keep their food down. While you don’t want to overdo it with the treats, these can be a useful way of helping your cat pile on the pounds. Try feeding them 100% meat treats such as cooked chicken or turkey. Talk to your vet about any specific recommendations that they can offer.

  • Make the Eating Experience Comfortable 

If you want your cat to enjoy eating, you can help to make the experience especially comfortable to them. Avoid watching your cat eat, as this is something that they don’t enjoy. Consider whether their food is easily accessible and whether you can make any improvements to the bowl they eat from. Keep their food, drinking, and playing areas separate - as this is closer to what they would do in the wild.

  • Common Causes of Weight Loss in Cats

Now, you may be returning to the question of what causes cats to lose weight in the first place. Being underweight is often a sign that something more serious is occurring here, so you should certainly ensure that they have a full health check-up. If you are able to address these issues, this will put you in a better place to help your cat pile on the pounds once again. So, here are some common causes of weight loss in cats.

  • Dental Issues 

Most cat owners don’t do enough to take care of their kitty’s oral health, which is bound to increase the number of dental issues that occur. So, if your cat is losing weight, it could simply be the case that it is too painful for them to eat. They may need to have a tooth taken out or some other dental work. Take them into the vet for a proper diagnosis. To prevent this from becoming an issue, you can get into the habit of brushing your cat’s teeth on a regular basis.

  • Hyperthyroidism 

This is a common complaint amongst cats - particularly older felines. If your cat’s thyroid is working at hyper speed, they will not be producing enough thyroxine, which will speed up their metabolism. As you would expect, this makes it very challenging for your cat to keep on weight, so you will need help from your veterinary professional as soon as you can get it.

Cat from above

  • Parasites 

Worms are the most common form of parasite that cats can suffer from. They live inside your dog’s digestive tract and will digest their food before your kitty can experience the benefits. The tapeworm is the most common of these parasites, and you will need some deworming medicine prescribed or bought over the counter to clear the issue and allow your cat to eat unencumbered once again. And you want to deal with this issue as soon as you can to stop the parasites taking vital nutrients from your kitty.

  • Burning Off Too Many Calories 

It could simply be the case that your cat is taking on fewer calories than they are burning off. This is a particular problem in kittens and younger cats who seem to have a boundless source of energy. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should discourage your cat from getting the exercise that they need. It can help if you switch to a food specially formulated for kittens and/or younger cats as this is higher in protein and fat content. Also, if you decide to spay or neuter your cat, this also plays a role in slowing down their metabolism.

Our Top Pick

If your kitten needs to gain some weight, this is certainly a great option for them. Since smaller cats have so much energy, they need plenty of calories from real animal protein, and this is exactly what this food will provide. It is supplemented with plenty of fruit and vegetables which help to offer the nutrients that your cat badly requires. Also, there are the trademark LifeSource bits, which are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Hundreds of customers have ranked it highly, and we also think that it does everything needed of it in terms of weight gain for cats effectively.

Sources:

  1. How to Calculate How Much Wet Food to Feed a Cat – Pet MD
  2. A Healthy Weight for Your Cat – Web MD
Dr Tracy Douglas
Dr Tracy Douglas
General Practice Veterinarian, currently working at the Glenwood Veterinary Clinic, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Dr. Douglas began her veterinary career as a Veterinary Nurse in Highton Veterinary Clinic, Highton Victoria, and then as an Emergency Veterinarian in Uintah Pet Emergency, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy is particularly interested in surgery, neurology and internal medicine, which gives her a well-rounded knowledge on animal health and well-being. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Melbourne, while her undergraduate bachelor of science is from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
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