The Best High Calorie Cat Food for Weight Gain – Reviews of the Top Wet and Dry Brands

If you have a skinny cat who needs to gain some weight, a senior cat, or a cat with a mouth injury, it can be important to find the best high calorie cat food to make sure she gets enough nutrition to stay at a healthy weight.

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  • Great macronutrient levels
  • 60% higher calories than average
  • Great value
  • Great macronutrient levels
  • 60% higher calories than average
  • Great value
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  • Best overall dry food
  • Tons of protein
  • No carbs!
  • Best overall dry food
  • Tons of protein
  • No carbs!
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  • Lots of protein
  • Very high calorie
  • Well rounded for kittens
  • Lots of protein
  • Very high calorie
  • Well rounded for kittens
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The Thing About High Calorie Foods

Before we jump into the actual reviews, it’s important to note that what matters here is not the amount of calories in a certain food, but the amount of calories your cat actually eats.

I’d highly recommend you check out our guide on How Much To Feed Your Cat.

That will give you a good idea of your cat’s actual caloric needs.

For most healthy, adult cats, you should be looking to simply feed a bit more of whatever current high quality cat food you buy. (If you’re looking for a new food, we have a list of the absolute best of the best here.)

However, we understand there are some circumstances where you might need to feed a high calorie cat food, which we’ll cover below.

Another quick note – we recommend wet food over dry food in almost all cases. Dry food lacks sufficient moisture, and prolonged eating of dry kibble can lead to dangerous dehydration, kidney disease, and urinary tract issues.

Why Feed Your Cat High Calorie Cat Food

Cat foods with higher calorie counts basically pack more energy into each bite than other foods. That means that your cat could eat the same amount of food as she currently does, but start to gain weight. Weight loss would only occur if she still couldn’t get enough calories, and you may need your vets help at that point.

It’s a great way to fatten up a cat a little bit without force feeding her!

There are a few types of cats that might need a higher calorie diet than normal.

Senior Cats

When cats get to be about 10 to 12 years old, they enter into their senior years, and their bodies actually need 1.1 to 1.6 times more calories and protein. This is because their body kicks into high gear and starts to process the food they at more rapidly.

You might find one on this list that helps, but we recommend looking at our article on the best foods for older cats here.

Sick Cats With A Low Appetite

When your cat is sick, he may not have the same hunger drive that he usually exhibits.

If this is the case, and you’re trying to nurture him back to health, a high calorie food can be a life saver.

Typically wet foods will be better for these cats (as with all cats), mostly because they are easier to eat and usually taste better to your kitty.

sick cat with kerchief over head and mouth

Cats With Mouth/Teeth Problems

If your cat has a mouth injury or dental issues, it can be incredibly hard for her to get enough to eat.

Feeding a brand that is higher in calories than usual is one way to make sure she doesn’t starve or lose too much weight.

Again, a soft food is likely the best option, as it is much easier to eat than a hard, dry, crunchy kibble.

Kittens

Kittens can eat up to 2.5 times as much as adult cats!

That’s because they’re growing, and pack on a TON of weight for their little bodies in the first year of their lives.

We have covered specific kitten foods in our best kitten food article here.

Underweight Cats

If your adult cat is otherwise healthy, but underweight, you may want to consider one of the options on our list below.

Of course, as we mentioned, the most important thing is ensuring she has enough calories coming in every day, and that could mean all you need to do is increase the amount of food you feed her at meal time.

However, if your cat is finicky, or for some other reason just won’t eat much food, then the list below should be a great way to find your next food option.

How We Choose The Best High Calorie Food For Cats

We have a massive database of cat foods (over 2000+ foods), which we’ll explain a little bit more below. But it’s important to mention what criteria we used when creating this list of the best foods with a high calorie count.

In our list of foods, we rate them from 1-5 using 5 different grading points. The foods below are all AT LEAST a 4 out of 5 stars. That means they’re much better than average.

The average calorie count for wet food across our entire database is 98 calories/100 grams, or 0.98 calories/gram.

The average calorie count for dry food across our entire database is 377 calories/100 grams, or 3.7 calories/gram.

To be counted as “high calorie” for our purposes, we chose only wet foods with over 130 calories/100 grams (1.3 calories/gram), and only dry foods over 430 calories/100 grams (4.3 calories/gram).

What Cats Actually Want To Eat

Studies on both indoor, commercially-fed cats, and feral and stray cats show that cats will self-select food sources that result in a macronutrient profile in this range (dry-matter basis used):

  • Protein: 52-63%
  • Fat: 22-36%
  • Carbohydrate: 2.8-12% (with “wild” cats on the very low end of this range)

What we believe this shows is that cats have evolved to thrive on a high protein, moderate fat, and low carb diet.

How We Rate Foods

Our database of cat foods contains over 2000 individual foods.

We collected all the relevant information on each product, including:

  • AAFCO Rating
  • Ingredient list
  • Macronutrient profiles (Guaranteed Analysis, Dry-Matter Basis, and Caloric Basis)
  • Price and price per pound
  • Calories per 100 grams
  • Whether meat is the first ingredient
  • How each food compares to the average of all foods on a macronutrient basis
  • Whether the recipe uses more than 4 controversial ingredients

Each of these data points works together to form a star rating on a 1-5 star scale (including half points).

  1. If the food’s first ingredient is meat, it gets 1 point.
  2. If the food does not use unnamed meat ingredients (“meat by-products”), it gets 1 point.
  3. If the food has an above average protein level on a dry-matter basis, compared to all other foods in the database, it gets 1 point. If it has an average amount, it gets .5 points.
  4. If the recipe contains fewer than 4 controversial ingredients (not necessarily bad ingredients), it gets 1 point. If it contains exactly 4 it gets .5 points.
  5. The final available point is a discretionary point that we award based on things like carbohydrate content, inclusion of probiotics and vitamins, and other points, and is our judgement call on a food’s quality and biological appropriateness for your cat.

We think that this system provides a fair, transparent system by which we can compare all foods on an equal footing, and give you the easiest possible time when choosing the best of the best.

Reviews Of The Best High Calorie Cat Food

Reviewing The Healthiest, Highest Calorie Wet Cat Food

#1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Chicken Wet Cat Food

blue buffalo wilderness high calorie wet cat food

Catological Rating: 4/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 155

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 45.5%
Fat: 40.9%
Carbs: 0%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Potatoes

The Wilderness line from Blue Buffalo is one of the best big-brand cat foods out there.

It’s grain free, nearly filler free, and packed with healthy proteins and fats.

Other than potato, which obviously is hardly present according to the macronutrient analysis, there’s nothing in there except meat, thickening agents like guar gum, and added vitamins and minerals.

That’s excellent, and means that your cat is getting everything she needs to be healthy, and nothing she doesn’t need.

It’s a well-priced food, too, which is excellent, considering it’s very high in calories (almost 60% higher than the average!).

This is a basic, yet nutritious food that would be great for any cat needing to gain a little weight.

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#2. Evanger’s Heritage Classic Beef-it-Up Canned Cat Food

evangers heritage classic beef it up high calorie wet food

Catological Rating: 4/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 170

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 45.5%
Fat: 27.3%
Carbs: 11.4%

First 4 Ingredients: Beef, Beef Broth, Butternut Squash, Tomato Paste

While we normally recommend feeding a more “natural prey diet” to your cat, like chicken, rabbit, or turkey, this is a great food from a great company, and it is one of the top few highest calorie wet foods on the market.

170 calories in a wet food is absolutely amazing, and means your kitty won’t need to eat quite so much to gain weight.

It also includes chicken liver, which is very important for cats. Organ meat isn’t our favorite here in North America, but cats love it and eat it happily in the wild. It is very protein-rich, but also contains important vitamins and minerals not otherwise found in muscle meat.

Beef is a “novel protein” for cats, which means that if they’re allergic or sensitive to the usual animal proteins as mentioned above, they can likely eat this without having an upset stomach.

The only thing we don’t love is the addition of brewer’s dried yeast as a little bit of a filler, but there’s hardly any in here judging by where it sits on the label of ingredients.

Otherwise it’s a clean, natural food that packs enough protein and fat to go along with super high calories.

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#3. Nature’s Logic Feline Rabbit Wet Cat Food

natures logic feline rabbit high calorie wet cat food

Catological Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 136

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 42.9%
Fat: 25%
Carbs: 14.3%

First 4 Ingredients: Rabbit, Water Sufficient For Processing, Pork Liver, Dried Egg Product

One of the thing’s that is amazing about this food is the fact that it has no added synthetic vitamins or minerals.

That’s almost unheard of in pet food.

Usually the ingredients they use are so cooked down, so rendered, that they lose so much of their good micronutrients.

This is a 100% natural, purely whole food based recipe.

Plus, cat’s eat rabbit more than any other animal in the wild, so they’ll love the flavor and the taste.

You’ve got a bunch of healthy meats, including organ meat in the liver, natural anti-caking with the Montmorillonite clay, blood (which cats love and is super healthy for them), and a bit of whole food fruits and vegetables to provide additional roughage and vitamins.

The protein is good, the fat is good, all around it’s just a really solid cat food, and comes in nearly 40 calories per 100 grams higher than average.

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#4. Instinct Original Lamb Canned Cat Food

instinct original lamb high calorie canned cat food

Catological Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 132

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 40.9%
Fat: 31.8%
Carbs: 4.6%

First 4 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Turkey, Turkey Liver

This is another food that should be good for cats with sensitive stomachs, since it uses another protein that is not often served to cats, in lamb.

It also includes turkey (including the all important liver for additional organ nutrition), which is of course a fantastic protein for cats.

This is another one that uses montmorillonite clay as an anti-caking agent instead of a gum or something artificial. It’s totally natural.

There are whole food vegetables and fruits once again for fiber and for a little bit extra minerals and vitamins.

The fat content is a bit higher than we’d like, but it does have good protein, and at 130 calories/100 grams, is quite good to help bulk up cats.

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#5. Nutro Wild Frontier Pate Turkey & Duck Wet Cat Food

nutro max wild frontier turkey duck high calorie wet cat food

Catological Rating: 5/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 131

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 54.6%
Fat: 31.8%
Carbs: 0%

First 4 Ingredients: Turkey, Chicken Liver, Pork Broth, Turkey Broth

With high protein and high fat, this is excellent in terms of being close to the ideal feline diet (this is what your cat’s diet should look like, in other words).

The ingredients paint a similar picture, showing multiple cuts of meat (turkey, chicken, and duck…including chicken liver, which as we’ve discussed, is important for vital nutrients).

The only things that stand out are the addition of guar gum (really not that bad, and used in most pet foods), carrageenan (probably not that bad, but some people think it’s a carcinogen, even though the form used in pet food has never been shown to be that), and tapioca starch (which is an added carb, likely meant to bind the food a bit so it’s not so sloppy).

But those are so minimal that even the tapioca doesn’t register on the macronutrient profiles (zero carbs).

It’s grain free, contains good ingredients, and is higher in calories than most.

Plus, it scores a perfect 5/5 in our rating system, making it a rare breed of food!

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Reviewing The Top Rated Dry Cat Food With High Calories

#1. Wysong Epigen 90 Starch Free Dry Cat Food

wysong epigen 90 high calorie cat food

Catological Rating: 5/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 489

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 70%
Fat: 17.8%
Carbs: 0%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Organic Chicken, Meat Protein Isolate, Chicken Fat

Honestly I was excited when I saw this in my filtered list of highest calorie cat foods.

This is just…it’s bizarre, but in such a good way.

This is a dry cat food with ZERO CARBS.

It uses gelatin as a binding agent, which is a great animal sourced ingredient that is much more biologically appropriate than anything typically used in kibbles.

It also includes probiotics to support gut health and digestion, and has an insane amount of calories in it.

It’s full of meat, has a bunch of other good whole food ingredients, and just LOOK at that protein! 70% on a dry matter basis!

This is absolutely the best overall dry cat food, and we say as much in our list of the top rated foods.

If your cat eats dry and needs to up his protein and calorie intake, this is the way to do it.

It’s just so shocking to see how good a dry food can be, when you consider just how bad most other dry foods are.

I hope the other manufacturers are taking notes, because this is just off the charts good, with one of our only perfect 5 star ratings given to dry foods.

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#2. The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Dehydrated Cat Food

honest kitchen dehydrated high calorie cat food

Catological Rating: 4/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 547

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 40.3%
Fat: 36.1%
Carbs: 11.5%

First 4 Ingredients: Turkey, Eggs, Pumpkin, Potatoes

OK, so this is not a dry food like you typically think of it. It’s not a kibble.

What it is, is a sort of…powder, almost.

It’s dehydrated, so you just pour some into your cat’s bowl and then reanimate it with water.

To be fair, when you add the water back in, the calories/100 grams will fall because water will make up more of the weight and have zero calories.

However, it’s still an amazing and calorie dense food.

Other than a couple minerals and vitamins, the only ingredients are: turkey, eggs, pumpkin, potatoes, parsley, chard, and cranberries.

And it has so few added vitamins and minerals that we can be sure that the quality of the ingredients is excellent, because they have retained much of their nutrition. This is what can happen when you dehydrate the food, since it’s not being cooked to death like most kibbles would be.

It’s got decent protein, fat, and carb levels, and will be super easy for your cat to eat, making it perfect for any kitty who struggles to chew even wet food. Just add a bit more water and it can be as runny as you like to get some energy into your furry friend!

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#3. Instinct Ultimate Protein Chicken Dry Cat Food

instinct ultimate protein high calorie dry cat food

Catological Rating: 4/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 447

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 52.2%
Fat: 18.9%
Carbs: 15.6%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken, Tapioca, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Ground Flaxseed

Super high calorie, super high protein, and quite low carbs for a dry cat food.

This has no grains, and very little in the way of fillers.

Of course we’d like to see tapioca further down the list, but when we do look down the ingredient list, we see there’s a little bit of chicken organ meat available, plus probiotics. Those are great additions, and they make this food worthy of this list.

It also includes whey protein, which we don’t love, since cats are typically lactose intolerant, but there likely isn’t enough in here to bother your kitty’s stomach.

It’s very well rounded, and Instinct makes a variety of great foods, so the brand is a trusted one as well.

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Reviewing The Best High Calorie Kitten Food

#1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Chicken Wet Cat Food

blue buffalo wilderness kitten high calorie cat food

Catological Rating: 4/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 148

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 47.7%
Fat: 40.9%
Carbs: 0%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Salmon Oil (Source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Natural Flavor

This is the kitten version of our top canned food choice above.

Kittens need to eat up to 2.5 times as many calories as when they’re adults, so the 148/100 grams is a big bonus here, meaning your baby cat won’t have to eat quite so much to meet her requirements, which should help her belly feel settled.

There is just a tiny bit of potato and thickening agents in here, which means it’s mostly made up of high quality meat.

A great, well rounded choice to start your cat’s life on the right foot, gaining weight!

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#2. Instinct Original Kitten Chicken Dry Cat Food

instinct original kitten high calorie cat food

Catological Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Calories per 100 grams: 470

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 47.8%
Fat: 22.5%
Carbs: 16.5%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal

If you must feed your kitten a dry food (which we don’t necessarily recommend), this is about the best you can hope for.

It’s very nutritious with great protein, fat, and carb amounts, and of course it’s sky high in calories.

The recipe starts with an excellent assortment of meats, and finishes with a small amount of organ meat and a probiotic culture.

With only tapioca, peas, and tomato pomace as the “filler” ingredients, it’s a fantastic, mostly-natural option with no grains.

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Curt Storring
 

Curt is the founder and editor of Catological. He believes natural solutions are better than the alternative, and believes cats should eat a biologically-appropriate, protein-rich, low-carb diet. He's determined to bring you the best, most accurate information and product recommendations so you can help your cat live it's best life by providing it with the things it needs to be happy, healthy, and environmentally friendly.

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