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10 Best High Protein Cat Foods of 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

Vet approved

	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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a black cat eating a smalls pet food from a green bowlWe all want the absolute best for our feline friends. Many of us are looking to switch to a high-protein cat food in order to best meet our cat’s natural dietary need for an above-average percentage of protein.

Unfortunately, plenty of lower quality cat foods contain more fillers and carbohydrates than quality protein, meaning that they may not be meeting your cat’s dietary requirements as well as they should be.

So, it makes sense to take care when selecting a new cat food. There’s a massive amount of choice out there when it comes to selecting a high-protein cat food, and it can soon start to feel overwhelming when you’re comparing all the options. That’s where we come in! We’ve put together reviews of the nine best high protein cat foods. Take a look through our list, and we’re sure that one of our favorites will suit your cat!

cat paw dividerA Quick Comparison (updated in 2023)

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Smalls Human Grade Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food Delivery Smalls Human Grade Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food Delivery
  • Feature iconMade with human-grade ingredients
  • Feature iconContains 49% crude protein
  • Feature iconNo artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Diamond Naturals Cat Food Diamond Naturals Cat Food
  • Feature iconMade with real chicken
  • Feature iconEnhanced with probiotics
  • Feature iconContains 40% protein
  • Third place
    ORIJEN Dry Cat Food ORIJEN Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconMade from 90% animal-based ingredients
  • Feature iconMade in the U.S.A.
  • Feature iconDeboned chicken as the first ingredient
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Dry Cat Food Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconContains 40% protein
  • Feature iconGrain free
  • Feature iconReal chicken as first ingredient
  • CRAVE High Protein Dry Cat Food CRAVE High Protein Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconContains 40% protein
  • Feature iconSoy and grain free
  • Feature iconFree from chicken by-products
  • The 10 Best High Protein Cat Foods

    1. Smalls Human Grade Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food Delivery – Best Overall

    Smalls Fresh Cat Food Freeze Dried with cute kitten

    Our choice for the overall best high-protein cat food is Smalls Human Grade Freeze Dried Raw: Other Bird formulation. The protein source of this diet is primarily human-grade turkey thighs, with real vegetables and all the essential vitamins and minerals included. Picture your cat sharing your Thanksgiving turkey if you will—it’s the same quality meat! This diet is also grain-free and preservative-free.

    The food is only available online via a subscription plan and is, as you might expect based on the quality of the ingredients, higher priced than others on our list. Based on the many rave reviews we found, however, plenty of cat owners don’t mind paying a little more to keep their cats happy and healthy, and the cats on our team that tried it absolutely loved it too! This food is highly digestible, making it a good choice for their cats with tummy trouble.

    All in all, we think this is the best high protein cat food this year.

    • Made with human-grade ingredients
    • Contains 49% crude protein from real meat ingredients
    • Grain-free and preservative-free
    • No artificial flavors or colors
    • It’s more expensive than kibble
    • Too rich for some cats
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    2. DIAMOND NATURALS High Protein Dry Cat Food — Best Value

    Diamond Naturals Active Chicken Meal

    If you’re looking for the best high protein cat food for the money, then the Diamond Naturals High Protein Dry Cat food is our suggestion. This nutrient-rich dry cat food is designed for active cats and will help them to build strong, lean muscle mass. As well as a high percentage of protein, this food also includes antioxidants and fatty acids.

    We love that Diamond Naturals doesn’t contain any artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. It’s also free from corn, wheat, and fillers. While the Diamond Naturals High Protein Dry Cat Food is excellent value for money, it misses out on our top spot because the first ingredient is chicken meal, rather than deboned chicken.

    • Contains 40% protein
    • Made with real chicken
    • Enhanced with probiotics
    • Suitable for all life stages
    • Real chicken, not the first ingredient
    • Some cats don’t like the taste
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    3. ORIJEN High-Protein Cat Food

    ORIJEN High-Protein

    Our third choice is manufactured by ORIJEN. This includes a great blend of biologically appropriate ingredients for your cat to enjoy, including wild-caught fish, cage-free eggs, and free-run turkey and chicken. ORIJEN also uses a mixture of “whole prey” meats, namely organs, cartilage, and bone. This is designed to mimic the natural diet of wild cats.

    As well as high protein content, this food contains a blend of fruit, vegetables, and botanicals to provide everything that your cat needs to thrive. While ORIJEN is a wonderful choice, if you have multiple cats, then the cost of using this food will soon add up quickly! This cost consideration is the only thing that’s keeping it out of the top two spots on this list.

    • Made from 90% animal-based ingredients
    • Deboned chicken as the first ingredient
    • Includes 40% protein
    • Made in the U.S.A.
    • Expensive
    • The new formula not as good as previous
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    4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe

    We also recommend Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat Food. The first ingredient of this cat food is deboned chicken, a sure sign that this is a high-quality product. The formula is inspired by the diet of the Lynx and is designed to provide your domestic cat with the optimum blend of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat to keep them in the best of health.

    It also includes Blue Buffalo LifeSource Bits. These include a carefully blended combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are designed to support your cat’s immune system and overall health. This food is designed to help support your cat to develop and maintain the best of health.

    • Available in three bag sizes
    • Contains 40% protein
    • Real chicken as the first ingredient
    • Grain free
    • It is expensive
    • Too rich for some cats
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    5. CRAVE High Protein Dry Cat Food

    Crave with Protein from Chicken

    With chicken as the first ingredient, CRAVE High Protein Dry Cat Food contains 40% protein to provide indoor cats with all the nutrients they require in order to lead healthy lives. While it does also contain chicken meal, it’s thankfully free from chicken by-products. You also won’t see soy protein, corn, or wheat on the ingredients list.

    Even better, it’s free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. The inspiration behind this formulation is providing your cat with a diet as similar as possible to their ancestral diet, while using natural sources of quality carbohydrates to support their digestive and immune systems. It’s also available in a kitten version in case you want to start your cat on this from the beginning.

    • Soy and grain free
    • Contains 40% protein
    • Contains chicken meal
    • Some ingredients from outside the U.S.A.
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    6. Purina ONE High Protein Adult Dry and Wet Cat Food

    Purina ONE True Instinct Natural Grain-Free

    The Purina ONE High Protein Adult Dry and Wet Cat Food is a great choice if your cat loves to eat fish! With real ocean whitefish as the first ingredient, this food will provide plenty of great taste thanks to its blend of crunchy bites and tender morsels of meat. This food contains zero fillers, meaning you can be confident that every bite your cat takes is full of natural goodness.

    What’s more, Purina ONE is veterinarian recommended. You can choose between a range of wet and dry food, knowing that it’s all designed to help your cat develop strong muscles and energy. Of course, these blends all contain the vitamins and minerals your kitty needs, in addition to the high protein content.

    • Available in two flavors
    • Choose from three bag sizes
    • Grain free
    • 35% protein
    • Contains soy
    • Contains artificial flavorings
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    7. Natural Balance L.I.D. High Protein Dry Cat Food

    Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient

    L.I.D. stands for Limited Ingredient Diet, which makes the Natural Balance L.I.D. High Protein Dry Cat Food an excellent choice for cats with allergies or food sensitivities. This dry cat food makes it easier to manage this sort of issue by using a simpler formula with fewer ingredients than many other brands of high protein cat food.

    The Natural Balance high protein cat food isn’t recommended for kittens, though, so you’d be better off choosing a different brand if you’re looking to start your kitten or young cat onto a high protein diet.

    • Contains 37% protein
    • Safety tested
    • Expensive
    • Crumbly formula
    • Small kibble shape
    • Not suitable for kittens
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    8. IAMS Proactive Health High Protein Cat Food

    The Iams Proactive Health High Protein Cat Food is also a great choice, with 38% of the protein content within this dry cat food being sourced from chicken and salmon. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor cats of all life stages, this dry cat food also contains a tailored blend of fiber, carefully selected to help your cat’s digestive system stay healthy and strong.

    It also contains a blend of essential minerals, including calcium for your cat’s teeth and bones. The premium recipe contains plenty of high-quality ingredients, but what it doesn’t include are any synthetic dyes, wheat, or artificial preservatives. And that’s always good news!

    • Available in three bag sizes
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • Contains 38% protein
    • Suitable for all life stages
    • Contains corn
    • Not suitable for kittens or pregnant and lactating cats
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    9. Taste of the Wild High Protein Premium Dry Cat Food

    Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain

    If you’re looking for a high protein cat food with a slightly different flavor profile for your fussy cat, the Taste of the Wild High Protein Premium Dry Cat Food might just tick all their boxes. This formula uses a blend of roasted venison and smoked salmon to provide a taste your cat will love.

    It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that the first ingredient listed is chicken meal, so that’s where the majority of the protein percentage will be coming from. It does have a high protein content, coming in at 42%, which is higher than most other brands we reviewed.

    • Appetizing flavor
    • Uses sustainable ingredients
    • Chicken meal as the first ingredient
    • Contains fish meal
    • Small kibble size
    • The changed formula doesn’t agree with some cats
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    10. Solid Gold High Protein Holistic Dry Cat Food

    Solid Gold Indigo Moon

    The Solid Gold High Protein Holistic Cat Food is a great choice if you’re looking for a formulation that can be used for all life stages from kitten to senior. Containing real chicken or fish as the first ingredient, the protein content of this dry cat food is an impressive 42%. The whole egg is added to provide a blend of amino acids that are important for the health of your cat’s coat.

    It also contains a blend of proprietary probiotics that help your cat achieve and maintain optimum health through their entire digestive system. The company has over 40 years’ experience crafting holistic pet foods designed to bring out the best in your cat, you can be confident that this dry cat food has been formulated with care and expertise.

    • Contains 42% protein
    • Grain free
    • The egg content may cause allergies for some cats
    • Expensive
    • Small kibble size
    • Chicken and fish meal as the first two ingredients

    cat paw dividerBuyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best High Protein Cat Food

    High Protein cat food is an excellent choice for many furry felines, but it’s important to do research before going ahead and switching your cat to this diet. Not all high protein cat foods are created equally, and some are a better buy than others. So, what should you be considering?

    Why is a high protein diet good for cats?

    Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that as a species, they’re designed to eat a solely meat-based diet. In fact, a cat’s requirement for protein in their diet is estimated to be up to three times greater than omnivorous species such as humans and dogs.

    Read the ingredients

    While a packet of high protein cat food might look like the best choice, the only way to know is to take a closer look at the ingredients list.

    Good-quality high protein cat food will include real meat as their first ingredient, so make sure to check this. Mid-range high protein cat foods will usually use a meat meal as the first ingredient. While the percentage of protein will still be high, the quality of the meat meal will not be as good as real meat.

    How much protein is high protein?

    While you’re checking the ingredients list on the back of a new packet of cat food, be sure to look at the nutritional breakdown of the food as well. The first thing to check will be the percentage of protein.

    According to The Association of American Feed Control Officials, also known as the AAFCO, any cat food should contain at least a minimum of 26% protein to meet the basic requirements of a cat’s maintenance diet. For younger cats in the growth phase, 30% protein is recommended.

    A high protein cat food is defined as one which contains 30% or more protein. The products on this list range from Purina ONE, with the lowest percentage of 35%, to Taste of the Wild and Solid Gold, which tie for the highest percentage at 42%. The majority has a protein content of 40%.

    All cat food will have the nutritional breakdown on the back of the packet. When buying from an online retailer, such as Amazon, you can easily find this information either within the product images or the description.

    Which nutrients do cats need?

    As well as protein, there’s a range of nutrients that your cat needs in order to stay healthy. Many of these are sourced from within the protein percentage of your cat’s diet.

    Protein contains amino acids, including taurine. Taurine is one of the most important nutrients in a cat’s diet. As cats can’t synthesize, or make, this nutrient themselves, they must gain 100% of their daily requirements from their food

    Next up, omega-6 fatty acids are needed to help your cat’s coat and skin stay strong and healthy.

    Vitamins are also important! Cats need vitamins A, B1, B12 and D3.

    Almost all cat food will list the guaranteed minimum percentages of taurine and omega-6 fatty acids that their blend contains. Some will also list omega-3 fatty acids and the range of vitamins and minerals that they contain.

    Check with your veterinarian

    Before making any changes to your cat’s diet, we recommend speaking to your veterinarian first. Some cats can suffer from kidney problems, with this being more common in older cats.

    If your cat has kidney issues, then feeding them a higher protein food can potentially cause more problems, so you’ll definitely want to check this with your veterinarian first.

    Our Favorite Cat Bowl:
    Giving your cat the highest quality nutrition is a top priority as a pet parent, so why not give them a food and water dish to match? We think the Hepper Nom Nom Bowl is too good not to share.

    Made from food-safe stainless steel, you can ensure that your cat is consuming the best nutrition out of the finest bowls on the market. Click here to get yours.

    At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

    How to change cat food

    Once you’ve decided on and purchased your new cat food, it’s important to take time to introduce it to your cat slowly to reduce the risk of them developing an upset stomach.

    Most manufacturers will include recommended quantities for transitioning your cat to their new diet. As an example, over six days, you can add 25% of the new food to your cat’s existing feed for the first two days. For days three and four, mix the foods with a 50/50 split. On days five and six, you’ll be using 75% new food and 25% old food. On day seven, you can use 100% new food, and your transition is complete!

    Want to see more cat food reviews? Check out our review page here!

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    Final Verdict

    We selected the Smalls Human Grade Freeze Dried Raw: Other Bird formulation as the best overall choice. Inspired by the historical diet of wild cats, your domestic kitty will love the combination of tasty flavors, raw meat, and the 49% animal protein that this cat food offers.

    We highly recommend DIAMOND NATURALS High Protein Dry Cat Food as the high protein cat food that offers the best value. It combines nutrient-rich flavor and 40% protein; though its first ingredient is chicken meal, it does contain real chicken too!

    We’re confident that there’s a high protein cat food that will suit your cat!

    Of course, the real test will be allowing your cat to enjoy their new food. We’re sure they’ll thank you!