Best High Calorie Cat Food : Top Options for Skinny Cats

When your cat is sick or underweight, high calorie foods can help them to stay healthy and maintain muscle mass.

If your cat is underweight, a high-calorie food can help to bulk them up, but that’s not the full story.

Being underweight is usually indicative of an underlying problem—cats are rarely skinny for no reason. If your cat is underweight, a change in diet may be necessary, but it’s also important to know what’s wrong. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian to be sure that you are not only treating your cat’s weight, but also any underlying issues that are causing it.

In this article, you’ll learn how to choose a nutrient-rich, palatable food that’s packed with the fuel your cat needs.

Cats typically need high-calorie foods for one of three reasons.

  1. The cat’s appetite is normal, but they’re losing weight due to hyperthyroidism, parasitic infection, or another condition.
  2. The cat has lost his or her appetite and doesn’t eat enough to maintain a healthy weight.
  3. The cat finds it difficult to eat due to physical obstructions, injuries, or pain.

A high-calorie food can help in the above cases, and if possible, it should address the root cause of the inappetence or weight loss.

Choosing the Best High-Calorie Cat Food

Let’s explore how the best high-calorie cat food targets poor appetite or unexplained weight loss and can help sick cats stay strong.

The best high calorie cat food is ultra-appetizing, encouraging finicky or sick cats to eat.

There’s no use in high-calorie food if your cat won’t eat it. There’s no food that’s universally appealing to every cat, particularly those who are going through difficult times. Generally, cats are attracted to rich, meaty tastes. Foods that include “natural flavor” tend to go over well. This additive is made from hydrolyzed animal tissue and is a source of concentrated meat flavor.

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If you can’t find a food that your cat will eat alone, you might opt for some of the food toppers and enhancements mentioned at the end of this article.

Kitten food is usually a good choice.

It’s safe for adult cats to eat kitten food. Because growing kittens have extremely high calorie demands and small stomachs, kitten food is energy-dense. It’s also usually soft and easy to eat, making it a good choice for cats with stomatitis or other painful conditions.

Explore our recommendations for the best kitten food here.

Opt for calories from fat and protein rather than carbohydrates.

It’s true that dry cat food is calorie-dense, but feeding your cat a high-carbohydrate food isn’t the best strategy for helping them reach a healthy weight. As obligate carnivores, cats aren’t physiologically adapted for a carbohydrate-rich diet. When they eat a high-carb diet, they will usually turn that carbohydrate matter to fat. To help your cat maintain healthy muscle mass, give them a diet optimized for their body.

Protein quality is paramount, particularly for senior cats.

Senior cats need clean, species-appropriate protein. It helps them to maintain lean muscle mass as they age. Highly bioavailable protein nourishes your cat efficiently, while minimally bioavailable protein creates waste and places a burden on your cat’s detoxification system, including the kidneys.

The most common sources of low-value protein are plant ingredients like corn gluten meal, wheat gluten, pea protein, and alfalfa meal. Because they may contain minimally nourishing animal tissues, meat by-products are also lower-quality proteins.

Traditional senior foods sacrifice both protein quantity and protein quality to reduce calorie count, which only exacerbates the problem of muscle wasting. This is a huge mistake and part of the reason why so many senior cats are skinny and frail.

Seniors should cut back on calories from carbohydrate and load up on what’s good for them. In other words, they deserve a diet made with rich, high-quality protein. The best diet for skinny seniors is one made from nourishing cuts of meat.

If your cat is having difficulty eating due to mouth pain, a soft food can help.

Canned pate-style foods are typically the easiest for cats to eat. Some of the best products have smooth, soft textures that your cat can lap up with their tongue. If you find that your cat prefers a firmer food, you might mix it with warm water until it reaches a loose consistency similar to applesauce.

If your cat refuses to eat because they’re sick, encouraging them to eat something is more important than choosing a nutritionally pristine food.

It’s okay to temporarily disregard some nutritional rules when your cat is sick or refusing to eat.

While not recommended on the following list of the best high calorie cat food, you may consider giving your cat kibble, a bowl of cat treats, cheese, plain meat, or anything else they’ll accept. Again, the most important thing is that your cat eats—what they eat is less significant.

Top 5 Best High Calorie Cat Foods

Food Price Nutrition Rating
Wild Calling Canned Cat Food - Cowabunga 96% BeefWild Calling Canned Cat Food – Cowabunga 96% Beef
Read Reviews Next ArticleWhere To Buy Next Article
$1.79 / 5.5 oz can A+ 5 stars
Wellness Complete Health KittenWellness Complete Health Kitten
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$1.23 / 3 oz can A+ 4.5 stars
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula Canned Cat FoodWellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula Canned Cat Food
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$2.06 / 5.5 oz can A 4.5 stars
Hill's Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat FoodHill’s Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat Food
Read Reviews Next ArticleWhere To Buy Next Article
$2.58 / 5.5 oz can A 4.5 stars
Hound & Gatos Chicken Cat FoodHound & Gatos Chicken Cat Food
Read Reviews Next ArticleWhere To Buy Next Article
$1.80 / 5.5 oz can A- 4 stars
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Wild Calling Canned Cat Food – Cowabunga 96% Beef Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Water Sufficient for Processing, Beef Liver, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor

Wild Calling Canned Cat Food - Cowabunga 96% Beef

This calorie-dense food checks several of the boxes we listed above—it’s rich in species-appropriate, highly bioavailable animal protein from beef.

Each 5.5oz(156g) can contains 223 calories or 40.5 calories per ounce.

With 223 calories in every can, it’s one of the most calorie-dense foods on the market. The food contains both beef liver and natural flavor, two ingredients known for intense palatability. Cats require plenty of animal-sourced protein to maintain healthy muscle mass, and this food is 96% meat.

According to customer reviews, the food’s texture is inconsistent, so it may or may not be a good fit for cats with mouth sensitivity. If the pate is too dense, you may choose to mix it with water.


  • Very high in calories
  • High animal protein content
  • Appetizing flavor


  • Some cats dislike the texture

Wellness Complete Health Kitten Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Carrots, Natural Flavor

Wellness Complete Health Kitten

Again, kitten food is a good choice for cats in need of a calorie-dense diet. This recipe from Wellness Complete is primarily made from chicken and chicken liver, both ingredients that cats typically enjoy. It does contain some plant ingredients that aren’t necessary, like cranberries, ground flaxseed, and carrots.

The food is enriched with “natural flavor” as a flavor-dense additive.

Each 3oz(85g) can contains 122 calories or 40 calories per ounce.

With 40 calories per ounce, the food is calorie-dense. It’s designed to fuel growing kittens and is nourishing for adult cats, too.


  • Made from species-appropriate animal protein
  • Calorie-dense
  • Has a soft pate texture
  • Delicious flavor


  • Contains plant ingredients

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula Canned Cat Food Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula Canned Cat Food

This food emphasizes a combination of turkey, chicken, and chicken liver, so it’s a relatively species-appropriate food rich in the animal protein required to maintain lean muscle mass. Each can contains 213 calories, so it’s also calorie-dense.

Each 5.5oz(156g) can contains 213 calories or 39 calories per ounce.

The food is relatively low in carbohydrates, but does contain potatoes, ground flaxseed, and cranberries.

It has a soft pate texture that may help to make the food accessible for cats with oral pain and dental health issues. One reviewer compared it to the texture of hummus and another said that the soft consistency made it easy to mix medicine into their cat’s meals.


  • Mostly made from high-quality animal ingredients
  • Calorie-dense
  • Soft pate texture is ideal for cats with sore mouths


  • Contains some unnecessary plant ingredients

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

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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

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

Unlike the other foods on this list, this is a prescription food specifically designed for cats and dogs in serious need of enhanced nutrition. The a/d diet is recommended for sick cats and those recovering from serious illness and injuries.

Each 5.5oz(156g) can contains 180 calories or 33 calories per ounce.

It’s not the most calorie-dense food on this list, but it does have certain qualities that set it apart as a therapeutic product. The food has high potassium levels, helping to prevent potassium depletion. An increased quantity of B vitamins helps unwell cats to feel better and encourages an energy boost.

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To encourage inappetent cats to eat, the food is packed with appetizing pork liver and chicken liver flavor. The food has a soft pate texture that makes it easy to eat.


  • Prescription food made for cats in desperate need of nutrition
  • Increased potassium and B-vitamins to keep cats strong
  • Calorie-dense
  • Packed with species-appropriate animal protein


  • Only available with a prescription
  • Contains corn flour

Hound & Gatos Chicken Cat Food Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Calcium Carbonate, Agar-Agar

Hound & Gatos Chicken Cat Food

Animal-sourced protein plays a key role in maintaining and developing lean muscle mass. This cat food contains nothing but meat, water, binders, and supplements. Altogether, it’s’ 98% chicken muscle meat and liver.

Each 5.5oz(156g) can contains 201 calories or 37 calories per ounce.

The food has a soft texture that makes it easy to eat.

While this Hound & Gatos food is one of the cleanest, most species-appropriate products on this list, it’s not the most appetizing. Numerous customer reviews suggest that cats don’t like the taste of Hound & Gatos pate.


  • 98% meat and liver
  • No carbohydrates
  • Calorie-dense


  • An expensive food
  • Many cats don’t like the taste

In addition to feeding your cat high-calorie food, offer enticements and calorie-dense supplements.

Food Toppers and Enticements

If your cat refuses to eat their regular meals, the following super-appetizing toppers, additives, and enticements may encourage them to get in a few calories. You can feed them on their own as a treat or place them on top of your cat’s meals.

Calorie-Dense Food Supplements

Remember that keeping your cat’s calorie intake up is critical. The following are high-calorie supplements you can give to your cat with their meals or as a stand-alone calorie boost.

Additional Tips

Maximize your cat’s opportunities to eat.

Provide multiple meals throughout the day and consider leaving food out for them to eat alone. This gives them more opportunities to try a little food at different times of day and makes it possible for them to have a bite when no one’s watching.

Most online retailers don’t sell cat food by the can. Here are a few low-risk ways to sample products.

Ordering in case sizes means that if your cat refuses to eat a given food, you’ll be left with almost an entire case of unwanted food.

You may prefer to browse brick-and-mortar stores locally. If you can’t find the foods you want in your area, you still have risk-free options.

Chewy allows you to return unused cans of cat food at no cost, so you can order a can and return it if things don’t work out. Otherwise, you may browse the selection on OnlyNaturalPet, which sells some cat food by the can.

You may also contact the cat food company directly. Some will send you a single can or limited quantity at a discounted price.

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