Best Cat Food For Weight Gain

Medically reviewed by JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM
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Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds. Read more about how we’re supported here.

The best cat food for weight gain isn’t just calorie-dense. It’s bursting with concentrated, species-appropriate nutrition.

It has plenty of protein, animal-sourced fat, and micronutrients to support both healthy muscle tone and overall health and wellbeing. And if your cat is underweight due to a health condition, the right food can promote weight gain.

At A Glance: Best Cat Food For Weight Gain To Buy

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Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Overall Best
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula

  • Moisture-rich canned food supports overall health
  • Made with highly-digestible animal protein
  • High in calories to help your cat gain weight
Best Ethically-Sourced
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Open Farm Grass-Fed Beef Rustic Blend Wet Food

  • Made with a single source of premium animal protein
  • Formulated with 100% human-grade, traceable ingredients
  • Contains the moisture your cat needs for hydration
Best Wet Cat Food
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food

  • Made with 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver
  • Highly palatable pate texture is easy to eat
  • Rich in the moisture and protein cats need
BEST FOR SENIOR CATS
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat Food

  • Specially formulated for cats in desperate need of nutrition
  • Increased potassium
  • Calorie-dense and made with highly-digestible animal protein
Best for Sensitive Stomach
9.5
Picked by 25 people today!

Smalls Fresh Ground Other Bird

  • Zero carbohydrate content
  • Calorie-dense to promote weight gain
  • Free from artificial additives and animal by-products
Budget Pick
9.4
Picked by 21 people today!

Just Food For Cats Fish and Chicken Recipe

  • Top four ingredients are all animal-based
  • Wild-caught cod as a rich source of protein and omega-3s
  • Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
Premium Pick
9.4
Picked by 31 people today!

Nature’s Logic Feline Chicken Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

  • Contains over 90% species-appropriate animal protein
  • Includes organ and muscle meat
  • Calorically dense to help cats gain weight

We recommend Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula as the best cat food for weight gain. In addition to being one of the highest-calorie canned foods you can buy, this food is rich in animal-sourced protein for healthy muscle tone and has a silky-soft texture that’s easy on senior cats’ teeth.

We’ll talk more about this Wellness CORE recipe and our other top 6 recommendations later. For now, let’s discuss the qualities of the best cat food for weight gain.

What Is The Best Cat Food For Weight Gain?

Chiefly, the best cat food for weight gain is one that helps to address the root of your cat’s weight problem.

Again, your cat’s unique situation dictates their dietary needs.

Generally speaking, an abnormally low weight is the result of either a poor appetite, mouth problems, or a condition that’s preventing the cat from maintaining a healthy weight. The latter category includes intestinal worms or a thyroid condition like hyperthyroidism.

Also Read: Best Cat Dewormer – Top 5 OTC Cat Dewormers

In most cases, this means that the best cat foods for weight gain provide a combination of palatability and calorie density.

Remember that senior cats need high-quality protein to prevent muscle wasting.

Senior cats, with their tendency to lose muscle mass and become “skinny old cats”, are usually the first group to require food for weight gain. It was once recommended that senior cats eat low-protein diets due to a possible connection between excessive protein and the kidney failure experienced by so many senior cats.

More current research, however, indicates that a diet rich in high-quality animal protein can help prevent sarcopenia of aging – the muscle wasting associated with old age. Cats are still obligate carnivores, so animal-based protein is an essential part of your cat’s diet, regardless of his weight.

Click here for a list of the best cat foods for senior cats.

If your cat has a poor appetite, choose foods and supplements that help to rev up their desire to eat.

It’s terrifying to watch your cat refuse meal after meal. Because it’s so important to ensure that your cat continues to take in sustenance, you’ll need to think creatively to encourage your cat to eat.

Here are a few foods, food toppers, and supplements that have a history of encouraging picky cats to eat.

  • Bonito flakes
  • Bone broth
  • Duck fat
  • Unseasoned chicken, turkey, or beef baby food
  • Chunks of raw or cooked unseasoned meat
  • Canned sardines packed in water
  • Canned tuna packed in water

The following are calorie-dense diet supplements that help your cat take in calories without spending much time at the food bowl:

Click Here to Read Our Guide on The Best Probiotics for Cats

Don’t think that because it’s calorie-dense, dry cat food is necessarily the best cat food for weight gain in adult cats.

Although dry cat food is highly palatable, calorie-dense, and easy to feed, it’s usually not the best choice for weight gain.

For one, dry cat food doesn’t offer the moisture your cat requires to stay healthy and hydrated.

Secondly, dry cat food isn’t ideal for seniors and other cats with poor dental health. If your cat has lost weight due to oral pain or other dental issues, dry kibble will only exacerbate the problem.

And third, compared to wet food, dry food is more likely to contain potentially lower-quality protein sources like pea protein and corn gluten meal. These are not good protein choices for older cats, who require ultra-digestible protein to maintain kidney health and support healthy muscle mass.

Also Read: Top 10 Best Healthiest Canned, Soft & Wet Cat Food

All this said, if your cat refuses to eat anything else, by all means feed them dry food.

In addition to performing our own qualitative analysis of the brands reviewed here, we submitted samples for analysis at an ISO 17025 certified food testing and analysis lab.

We bought the products at full retail price, and the entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct input or influence from the companies involved.

Analytical testing in a food chemistry lab gives us the exact macronutrient and
micronutrient content of each recipe. The tests also look at microbial content, yeast, mold, and heavy metals, helping you ensure that you’re only putting the best in your cat’s bowl.

To access the lab reports for each food reviewed here, click the “view lab report” link in the product review.

Top 7 Best Cat Foods For Weight Gain

#1 Overall Best: Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula Canned Cat Food Review


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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 213 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Meal

Our top overall pick for the best cat food for weight gain is this grain-free chicken, turkey, and chicken liver formula from Wellness. It is a high-calorie cat food with a smooth pâté texture that makes it ideal for senior cats and those with dental issues.

This formula is primarily made from highly digestible and biologically valuable sources of animal protein, including chicken, turkey, and chicken liver. It contains limited added carbohydrates and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids from ground flaxseed and species-appropriate salmon oil.

In addition to its high animal-based protein content and abundance of hydrating moisture, this formula is free from fillers, grains, and artificial additives, which helps boost its digestibility for your cat.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Meal, Turkey Liver, Dried Ground Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Guar Gum, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salmon Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 12%
Crude Fat: 7%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 54.55%
Fat: 31.82%
Fiber: 2.27%
Carbs: 11.36%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 38.1%
Fat: 53.97%
Carbs: 7.94%

What We Liked:

  • Moisture-rich canned food supports overall health
  • Made with highly-digestible animal protein
  • High in calories to help your cat gain weight
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Has a soft pâté texture that is ideal for sensitive teeth

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains some unnecessary plant ingredients
  • Fairly expensive compared to other canned foods

#2 Best Ethically-Sourced: Open Farm Grass-Fed Beef Rustic Blend Wet Food

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Read Our Full Brand Review

Each 5.5-ounce carton contains 172 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Humanely Raised Beef, Beef Bone Broth, Pumpkin, Carrots, Spinach

Formulated with a single source of animal protein and made with 100% human-grade, easily traceable ingredients, this beef stew from Open Farm is our pick for the best ethically-sourced cat food for weight gain. This wet food formula comes packaged in a cardboard carton rather than a can, making it easy for you to close the package if you don’t use all the food for one meal.

This beef recipe wet food is supplemented with a blend of functional ingredients like non-GMO cranberries for urinary support and superfoods like dandelion greens, spinach, and carrots that provide natural sources for key nutrients.

We appreciate that this recipe is made with a single source of high-quality animal protein, but we wouldn’t mind seeing other animal-based ingredients. Organ meats, for example, would be a nutritious addition to this formula, and we’d prefer to see an animal-based fat in place of the sunflower oil or coconut oil.

While this formula does contain a significant number of plant ingredients, the dry matter carbohydrate content is only around 11%. And we generally prefer to avoid beans and legumes like lentils and chickpeas in cat food.

Ingredients:

Humanely Raised Beef, Beef Bone Broth, Pumpkin, Carrots, Spinach, Red Lentils, Agar Agar, Non-GMO Cranberries, Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), Chicory Root, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Salt, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Dandelion Greens, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Turmeric.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 8%
Crude Fat: 6%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 44.44%
Fat: 33.33%
Fiber: 11.11%
Carbs: 11.11%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 32.56%
Fat: 59.3%
Carbs: 8.14%

What We Liked:

  • Made with a single source of premium animal protein
  • Formulated with 100% human-grade, traceable ingredients
  • Contains the moisture your cat needs for hydration
  • No fillers, by-products, or artificial additives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains a significant number of plant-based ingredients
  • Fairly expensive compared to the average cat food

#3 Runner-Up: Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food Review

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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 193 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Ground Flaxseed

Packed with protein from highly digestible animal sources, this pâté-style canned food is also very palatable, with its soft pate texture and high moisture content.

This canned food formula from Instinct features 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver, with the remaining 5% from fruits, vegetables, and nutritional supplements. This makes it a primarily meat-based formula with limited carbohydrate content and no artificial additives.

In addition to being calorie-dense and packed with animal protein, this formula offers balanced nutrition with a hint of omega-3 fatty acids from menhaden fish oil to support your cat’s eyes, brain, skin, and coat.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Ground Flaxseed, Montmorillonite Clay, Egg Product, Peas, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Taurine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Artichokes, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Tomato, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Parsley.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 7.5%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 34.09%
Fiber: 13.64%
Carbs: 6.82%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 33.65%
Fat: 61.3%
Carbs: 5.05%

What We Liked:

  • Primarily made from highly digestible animal protein sources
  • Relatively low carbohydrate content
  • Free from artificial additives and by-products
  • Fairly high calorie content to support weight gain

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Somewhat more expensive than the market average
  • Contains some unnecessary plant ingredients

#4 Best For Senior Cats: Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat Food Review

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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 180 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Water, Turkey Liver, Pork Liver, Chicken, Turkey Heart

This prescription food from Hill’s Pet Nutrition is specially formulated for sick cats and dogs in desperate need of nutritional support. The a/d diet is recommended for cats recovering from serious illnesses, accidents, or surgeries.

At 180 calories per can, this is a relatively calorie-dense food formulated with animal protein sources, which help to support lean muscle mass. It has increased potassium levels to prevent potassium depletion and increased B vitamins to support recovery. To increase its palatability, the food is formulated with plenty of delicious liver.

The pâté texture is creamy-soft for sensitive cats, and it is rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration and healthy digestion. On the downside, it does contain some corn flour and added flavor.

Ingredients:

Water, Turkey Liver, Pork Liver, Chicken, Turkey Heart, Corn Flour, Pork Protein Isolate, Fish Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Chicken Liver Flavor, Egg Flavor, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Taurine, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Potassium Citrate, Choline Chloride, minerals (Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate), Magnesium Oxide, Beta-Carotene.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 8.5%
Crude Fat: 5.2%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 85.8%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 59.86%
Fat: 36.62%
Fiber: 3.52%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 40.23%
Fat: 59.77%

What We Liked:

  • Specially formulated for cats in desperate need of nutrition
  • Increased levels of dietary potassium
  • Calorie-dense and made with highly-digestible animal protein

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Only available for purchase with a prescription
  • Contains corn flour and some added flavor

#5 Best For Sensitive Stomach: Smalls Fresh Ground Other Bird Review

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Read Our Full Brand Review

Each 11.5-ounce package contains 460 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Turkey Thigh, Turkey Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Kale

With 464 calories in each package, this is one of the most calorie-dense foods on the market. Like all Smalls cat foods, the recipe models a “paleolithic diet”, containing just meat, water, binders, and supplements.

The food contains turkey thigh and chicken liver, which means that the food is rich in high-value animal protein. This helps to support healthy lean muscle mass. With such a high concentration of meat, there’s no room left for carbohydrates, making this an ideal food for cats with diabetes or a sensitive stomach.

The texture of the food is a soft pate that’s easy for cats to eat. That being said, there are a notable number of customers who report their cats disliking the flavor.

Ingredients:

Turkey Thigh, Turkey Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Kale, Tricalcium Phosphate, Canola Oil, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Magnesium Sulfate, Niacinamide, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Sulfate, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 16%
Crude Fat: 8.5%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 72%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 57.14%
Fat: 30.36%
Fiber: 5.36%
Carbs: 7.14%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 41.4%
Fat: 53.42%
Carbs: 5.18%

What We Liked:

  • Zero added carbohydrate content
  • Calorie-dense to promote weight gain
  • Free from artificial additives and animal by-products

What We Didn’t Like:

  • More expensive than market average
  • Notable number of cats seem to dislike the flavor

#6 Budget Pick: Just Food For Cats Fish and Chicken Recipe

Click Here To Get 5% Off Your First Order

Read Our Full Brand Review

Each ounce contains 42 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Wild-Caught Alaska Pacific Cod, Chicken Thighs, Chicken Hearts, Chicken Liver, Tapioca Starch

Formulated with 46% protein calculated as dry matter, this meat-rich fresh cat food formula is highly digestible for cats. At 42 calories per ounce, it’s a fairly calorie-dense recipe which may be beneficial for cats who need to put on a little weight.

The food features wild-caught Alaskan cod as the main ingredient which is a species-appropriate source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Nutrient-rich chicken organs and whole Atlantic sardines deliver supplemental protein, animal-based fats, and essential nutrients.

The only source of added carbohydrate is tapioca starch. Though not particularly nutrient-dense, tapioca starch is preferable to potentially carcinogenic thickeners like carrageenan.

Ingredients

Wild-Caught Alaska Pacific Cod, Chicken Thighs, Chicken Hearts, Chicken Liver, Tapioca Starch, Whole Atlantic Sardines, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Choline Bitartrate, Manganese Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 12%
Crude Fat: 4.5%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 74%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 46.15%
Fat: 17.31%
Fiber: 1.92%
Carbs: 34.62%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 37.58%
Fat: 34.23%
Carbs: 28.19%

What We Liked:

  • Top four ingredients are all animal-based
  • Wild-caught cod as a rich source of protein and omega-3s
  • Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
  • Fairly calorie-dense to help with weight gain

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains some starchy carbohydrate
  • Fairly pricey

#7 Premium Pick: Nature’s Logic Feline Chicken Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 230 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, Dried Egg Product

As one of the highest-calorie formulas on this list, this Nature’s Logic chicken recipe is a good option for cats who need to gain weight. In addition to being high in animal protein, it contains the moisture your cat needs for proper hydration and it has a highly palatable, soft pâté texture.

While this formula is rich in species-appropriate animal protein and healthy fats, it is a little higher in carbohydrates than we’d like to see. The inclusion of dried fruits and vegetables is fairly significant, but it does help negate the need for synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements.

This recipe is completely free from artificial additives, and it contains a single source of animal protein (chicken). Nature’s Logic canned food also comes in beef, turkey, rabbit, and fish flavors.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, Dried Egg Product, Porcine Plasma, Montmorillonite Clay, Herring Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Apple, Dried Apricot, Alfalfa Meal, Dried Artichoke, Dried Blueberry, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrot, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Cranberry, Dried Kelp, Dried Parsley, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Rosemary, Dried Spinach, Dried Tomato, Egg Shell Meal, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 11%
Crude Fat: 9%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 72%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 39.29%
Fat: 32.14%
Fiber: 10.71%
Carbs: 17.86%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 29.06%
Fat: 57.74%
Carbs: 13.21%

What We Liked:

  • Contains over 90% species-appropriate animal protein
  • Herring oil provides omega-3 fatty acids
  • Concentrated source of calories, protein, and essential nutrients
  • No artificial additives or synthetic supplements

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Very expensive compared to the market average
  • Higher than average carb content for a canned food

Before You Choose A Food, You Need To Know Why Your Cat Is Underweight.

Unlike obesity in cats, underweight cats are seldom the result of simply eating the wrong food or getting the wrong amount of exercise.

If your cat is underweight, the problem almost invariably goes much deeper than the food bowl. Although it’s a good idea to choose high-calorie food that will help your cat gain weight, it’s more important to identify the root cause of their weight issue and treat your cat accordingly.

In addition to dietary changes, your veterinarian may recommend medications to address underlying health issues that are contributing to your cat being underweight.

cat body condition chart

Credit: Purina

If your cat is a 1, 2, 3, or 4 according to this body condition chart, they’re considered too thin and it’s time to intervene.

Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Underweight:

If your cat is in the “too thin” weight class, take them to your veterinarian for a health evaluation. Your vet can help you determine your cat’s ideal weight and how to achieve it.

Some of the most common causes for cats being underweight include:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Worms or intestinal parasites
  • Poor dental health
  • Stress
  • Inadequate nutrition

The above list is far from complete, and it’s almost impossible to diagnose the cause of your cat’s low weight at home. Your veterinarian will help you determine if any underlying medical problems are the cause of your cat’s weight issues and recommend the best form of treatment to resolve them.

Different root problems demand unique treatment plans. For instance, a diabetic cat needs a low-carbohydrate diet, while a cat with chronic kidney disease requires low levels of phosphorus.

Still searching for the best cat food for weight gain? Click here for an in-depth list of cat food products with nutrition information.

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About Mallory Crusta

Mallory is the Head of Content at Cats.com and an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach. Having produced and managed multimedia content across several pet-related domains, Mallory is dedicated to ensuring that the information on Cats.com is accurate, clear, and engaging. When she’s not reviewing pet products or editing content, Mallory enjoys skiing, hiking, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She has two cats, Wessie and Forest.