We recommend Feline Natural freeze-dried raw cat food as the best cat food for weight gain. In addition to being a calorie-dense option rich in animal-sourced protein for healthy muscle tone, it is designed to be rehydrated which gives it a soft texture that’s easy on senior cats’ teeth.
We’ll talk more about this recipe and our other top eight recommendations later. For now, let’s discuss the qualities of the best cat food for weight gain.
At a Glance: Best Cat Food for Weight Gain To Buy
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.
- Contains muscle meat and organs
- High in protein, low in carbohydrates
- Simple list of quality ingredients
- Economically priced in larger cans
- Top five ingredients are all animal-based
- Rich in animal protein and fat
- Made with 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver
- Highly palatable pate texture is easy to eat
- Rich in the moisture and protein cats need
Why Should You Trust Us?
We’ve reviewed over 200 of the world’s most popular cat food brands and hundreds of different formulas. We’ve spent hours researching, contacting pet food companies, analyzing labels, and reading customer reviews. With the help of our cats, we also got hands-on experience with most of these foods.
How We Tested
We personally purchased and tested the products on this list. The entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct input or influence from the companies involved.
In addition to performing our own qualitative analysis of the brands reviewed here, we submitted samples of several recipes for analysis at an ISO 17025 certified food testing and analysis lab.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Egg yolks
- Purina Fortiflora Feline Nutritional Supplement
- Wysong PDG Canine/Feline Food Supplement
- Tomlyn Nutri-Cal 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 many cats find dry food highly palatable and it is often more calorie-dense than wet food, it’s not always the best choice for weight gain.
First and foremost, dry cat food doesn’t offer the moisture your cat requires to stay healthy and hydrated. If you choose a dry food diet for your cat, you’ll need to supplement their moisture intake in other ways.
Second, 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 may only exacerbate the problem.
Finally, commercial dry food is more likely than wet cat food to contain protein sources that are not species-appropriate for cats – things like pea protein and corn gluten meal rather than whole animal proteins.
All this said, if the only thing your cat will eat is dry food, quality options do exist. Look for a high-protein, low-carbohydrate recipe with a short list of ingredients and no artificial additives.
If your cat isn’t picky, wet cat food or even freeze-dried raw food might be the best option for weight gain. These foods tend to be more carnivore-appropriate and higher in moisture than the average commercial dry food. You’ll still have to pay attention, however, to things like carb content and caloric density.