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7 Best Cat Foods for Weight Gain (High Calorie) 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

Persian Cat Food

Some cats are notoriously picky. No matter what food you put out for them, they turn up their collective noses and walk away from the food bowl. Heaven forbid that the grocery store or your favorite e-commerce site runs out of the flavor they prefer, too. Sound familiar?

With literally hundreds of products available, you may find it difficult to home in on the right one for your cat. It’s incredibly challenging if your pet has either a food intolerance or allergy. Then, you have to scrutinize every label, even if you’re buying the same food. After all, manufacturers mix things up sometimes, with new formulations and recipes.

We’ve done the heavy lifting for you in our roundup of the best cat food for weight gain. We’ll discuss everything you must know about selecting the right product for your BFF. We’ve also included reviews to give you a detailed look at how to check them. You’ll find information on how to assess a cat food based on what’s on the label. Let’s get started!

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A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2023

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Smalls Fresh Cat Food Smalls Fresh Cat Food
  • Feature iconIncludes fresh, quality ingredients
  • Feature iconNo artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Feature iconHigh in protein and fat
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Iams ProActive Health Kitten Iams ProActive Health Kitten
  • Feature iconHigh protein content
  • Feature iconChicken-based protein
  • Feature iconEasy to digest
  • Third place
    Royal Canin Weight Care Royal Canin Weight Care
  • Feature iconHigh protein percentage
  • Feature iconComplete and balanced nutrition
  • Feature iconDecent fiber content
  • Hill's Science Diet Adult Perfect Hill's Science Diet Adult Perfect
  • Feature iconHigh moisture content
  • Feature iconOmega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Feature iconGood fiber percentage
  • Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight
  • Feature iconExcellent value for the price
  • Feature iconHairball control
  • Feature iconBalanced nutrition
  • The 7 Best Cat Foods for Weight Gain

    1. Smalls Fresh Cat Food– Best Overall

    smalls freeze-dried raw and human-grade fresh cat food on a table

    Smalls crafts high-quality, high-protein cat food to help underweight cats put on a few extra pounds. Their recipes are formulated with wholesome, USDA-certified ingredients and no artificial preservatives or flavors.
    The main ingredients in Small’s Cow recipe are ground beef, beef liver, green beans, and beef heart. Since three of the four first ingredients are meat-based, your cat will get plenty of necessary protein from this meal.
    The quality ingredients have noticeable effects. Cat owners report that their feline friends were healthier and happier after eating Smalls fresh meals, as they noticed an improvement in their cat’s energy levels, hydration, and quality of fur.

    Smalls’ meals do not come in pre-portioned packages, so you will need to portion the meals yourself. It will likely not be an issue if you are already measuring your cat’s meals to help it gain weight.
    There’s no need to visit the grocery store and hope your cat’s favorite meal is in stock; Smalls meals are delivered straight to your front door. To hunt for your perfect Smalls recipe, you can go to their website and fill out a short questionnaire. This questionnaire will help you determine which of Smalls’ recipes is the best fit for your cat so that you can start with fresh meals immediately.

    • Includes fresh, quality ingredients
    • No artificial flavors or preservatives
    • Improves your cat’s energy, hydration, and health of the coat
    • High in protein and fat
    • You will need to measure out each meal
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    2. Iams ProActive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food – Best Value

    Iams ProActive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Iams ProActive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food is the best cat food for weight gain for the money. The nutritional profile is excellent. It contains 33% protein and 21% fat. The latter makes it a smart choice for a pet that needs to put on a few pounds. It has several additives that up its value, including vitamin A, taurine, and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.

    The calorie count is 416, which the fat probably boosts. Chicken and eggs are the primary meat and fat sources. While it’s marked kitten, the nutrition is more than adequate for pregnant or nursing adults. It comes in 3.5, 7, and 16-pound bags.

    • High protein content
    • Chicken-based protein
    • Additives for better nutrition
    • Easy to digest
    • No middle-sized bag
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    3. Royal Canin Weight Care High Calorie Cat Food

    Royal Canin Weight Care Dry Cat Food

    Royal Canin Weight Care Dry Cat Food is an excellent choice if you want the best in tailored nutrition. This product scores high marks for its protein content at 34%. Chicken provides both protein and fat sources. We liked the fact that it didn’t contain any fluff ingredients. It’s simply a highly nutritious diet that covers all the bases.

    Some pet owners will appreciate its use of rosemary, citric acid, and tocopherols to keep the food fresh. It provides an excellent source of fiber with psyllium seed husk. The food is more expensive than comparable ones. We can forgive that if the calories per cup were higher than its 255. It comes in 3, 6, and 14-pound bags.

    When it comes to high end choices, we think this is the best high-calorie cat food for weight gain.

    • High protein percentage
    • Complete and balanced nutrition
    • Decent fiber content
    • Pricey
    • Lower calories per can
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    4. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Canned Cat Food

    Hill's Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Canned Cat Food

    Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Canned Cat Food uses chicken and pork as its primary protein sources. It also contains several omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, including coconut oil. Your pet’s skin and coat will benefit from these additions. The moisture content is decent at 84%. It also has 3.5% fiber to keep your pet feeling full.

    On the downside, the cat food is expensive, especially with the 2.9-ounce cans. You also have to feed your pet 4 ¼ cans to maintain the weight of a 10-pound cat. That makes the fiber content more important. It does have some fluff ingredients, such as spinach and carrots, that give it a stew-like consistency.

    • High moisture content
    • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
    • Good fiber percentage
    • Spendy
    • Fluff ingredients
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    5. Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight Dry Cat Food

    Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight Dry Cat Food

    Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight Dry Cat Food taps into several protein sources to reach its impressive 30%. They include chicken, beef, and soy. The diet also exceeds the requirements for vitamins A and B3. It does a superb job of balancing caloric intake and activity, seeing as indoor pets are often less energetic. It comes in four sizes from 3.15–20 pounds. The food is also affordable, whatever one you get.

    The cat food contains a decent amount of fiber at 5.5% to help your pet stay sated in between meals. The calorie count is more than adequate at 358 per cup. Your little girl will soon get to a healthy weight on this diet.

    • Excellent value for the price
    • Hairball control
    • Balanced nutrition
    • High carb content
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    6. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Hairball & Weight Control

    Purina Cat Chow Naturals Hairball & Weight Control Adult Dry Cat Food

    Purina Cat Chow Naturals Hairball & Weight Control Adult Dry Cat FoodPurina Cat Chow Naturals Hairball & Weight Control is a multi-purpose product that the manufacturer caters to indoor pets. Both turkey and chicken provide the protein at 34%. The fat amount is inline, too, at 9%. This best high calorie cat food for weight gain includes a few fluff ingredients, like spinach. While the nutritional profile is more than adequate, we had a few concerns.

    The package lists some ingredients without identifying a source, such as “animal fat” and “natural flavor.” We’d prefer it if they were present on the label. The other stickler is that there isn’t a small bag. It only comes in 6.3 or 13-pound bags.

    • Excellent protein content
    • Hairball control
    • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
    • No small bags
    • Lack of transparency on some ingredients.

    Related Read: Purina Cat Chow Naturals Cat Food Review: Recalls, Pros & Cons

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    7. Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is a pate-like diet that relies on turkey and chicken for its protein sources. It also includes organ meats, which are excellent choices. However, while these ingredients are desirable, we couldn’t help but notice the conflict with other ones in the recipe, such as cranberries.

    The calorie content is respectable at 101 per can. It also has several fatty acid sources, including salmon oil and flaxseed. We liked that you can get this weight gain cat food in either 3- or 5.5-ounce cans. However, it is expensive, considering you’re feeding them two per day for an adult.

    • Two can sizes available
    • USA-made
    • Fluff ingredients
    • Expensive

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

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    Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best High-Calorie Cat Food for Weight Gain

    Weight loss—especially unexplained—is potentially dangerous and life-threatening for your pet. Many things can cause it, from a bout with intestinal parasites to more serious health conditions. The former is one reason that we recommend keeping your cat indoors. Rodents are a major carrier of many parasites, including pinworms.

    The average, healthy adult cat needs around 240 calories. Several things can affect the bottom line, including:

    • Age
    • Reproductive status
    • Activity levels
    • Health

    The essential thing to remember is that the feeding guide on the back of the bag or can is only a guide. You and your veterinarian need to make the call on whether your pet needs a calorie boost in her diet. To determine which products pass muster, you should begin with the label. The things you have to find out include:

    Let’s discuss each one in detail.

    Cat Life Stage

    Just as in dogs, the nutritional needs of kittens and cats vary with their age and life stage but not by a lot. However, it is enough that it can mean the difference between a healthy pet and one that is not. Therefore, we recommend sticking with the right product if simply just to reduce the risk of obesity in pets at the ideal weight.

    Cat Food Nutrient Analysis

    The nutrient analysis is where the petal meets the metal. The essential thing to understand is that cats are obligate carnivores that get the majority of their food from meat. Kittens require at least 30% protein in their diet. Adults need 26%. Of course, your pet may occasionally eat some grass or catnip.

    The cat food you provide must be both complete in its nutrient content and balanced in the correct proportions. Unlike dogs, felines cannot synthesize vitamins A or B3 (niacin). That must come from what you put in their bowl. In the wild, cats would get these nutrients from their prey, particularly rodents.

    You can check the bag or can’s guaranteed analysis to help you decide on a product. For example, kittens need 9,000 IU/kg for vitamin A and 60 mg/kg for niacin, which is something to keep in mind when searching for a high calorie kitten food. Adults must get 5,000 and 60, respectively. The cat food also has to provide arachidonic fatty acid and taurine. Quality products will give the amounts or percentages of these essential nutrients.

    Cat Food Calories

    You can assess whether your cat needs food for weight gain based on her body condition. An underweight feline has little fat around her ribs, making it easy to feel them. You may notice them when you stroke her back, too. The Pet Nutrition Alliance provides a handy calculator for you to estimate your feline’s daily caloric intake, even by the brand of food.

    We suggest that you work closely with your vet to ensure that your pet is gaining weight in a healthy manner. Sometimes, less is more. The last thing you need is a cat that is vomiting because she ate too much, too fast. Like weight loss, slow and methodical is the ideal strategy to give her little body time to adjust.

    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!

    Cat Food Ingredients

    The ingredients on the bag or can must list them from most to least by weight. Because of its importance, we prefer products where the protein is first. However, don’t let the term byproducts scare you. According to the AAFCO, they are safe to fill the nutritional needs of your pet. We think it’s an eco-friendly choice, too, considering that it’s better than wasting food.

    Organ meats are an excellent source of nutrition. They often have higher amounts of proteins for a complete diet. You’ll also see some products that contain various types of meals. These are concentrated meats or bones that the manufacturers will render to make them safe for your pet. There are strict regulations regarding the nutritional balance of these ingredients.

    Many so-called boutique brands will include people foods, such as blueberries and peas, on their ingredient list. You may also see items labeled “human-grade.”  These are simply marketing. Often, foods far down the list are so small as not to matter. The pet industry is well aware of how some owners view their pets and will advertise their products accordingly.

    fluffy grey cat with food
    Image Credit By: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

    AAFCO Compliance

    The best pet foods will have a statement about being compliant with the AAFCO’s nutrient profiles for the species and life stage. That’s what you want to see on any product that you buy. That way, you know that it contains the right mix in the correct amounts for optimal nutrition. Bear in mind that this information applies to diets and not treats.

    The name of a product is subject to similar standards. If it says “all-chicken,” then it is indeed just that. If it includes ingredients, then it must have 95% of the list. That reg applies if a manufacturer uses a frilly name, such as chik’n. You may see cat food called something like “Kitty’s Fish Delight.” By AAFCO rules, it must be at least 25% of the product’s weight, not including water.

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    Based on our reviews, the Smalls Fresh Cat Food is the overall best cat food for weight gain. If you are looking to put some weight on your cat, this might be a good choice for you. The protein content is mainly from chicken. Your feline will devour this human grade dry food.

    Iams ProActive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food exceeds on several scores. You can feed it to pets in several life stages, which makes it an even better value. It’s also easy on your little girl’s digestive system. Iams hit it out of the park with this product.

    Buying the right food for your cat is a serious undertaking, especially if she has an underlying health condition affecting her weight. Finding something she likes and provides adequate nutrition is probably the goal of every pet owner. We hope our guide gave you some insights into choosing the best one for your feline BFF.

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    Featured Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock