High-Calorie Cat Food: Ranked and Reviewed

Written by Judie Sigdel
Updated: November 22, 2022
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Key Points

  • The #1 Best Overall high-calorie cat food is Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Formula Dry Cat Food.
  • High-calorie cat foods contain special blends of ingredients that are high in fiber and protein to help your cat consume more calories to gain weight.
  • Some cats that may benefit from high-calorie foods are nursing or pregnant cats, young kittens, under-weight cats, senior cats, sick cats, or cats with tooth and gum issues.
  • When compiling our list of the top high-calorie cat foods, we sought brands that contain vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, or other supplements that promote overall health in your cat. We also looked for food that rated very high in taste among cats.

If you have an underweight or sick cat or senior kitty, helping them gain weight is important. One of the best ways to help your furry friend gain weight is by feeding them additional calories. Choosing a high-calorie food can help you reach this goal.

High-calorie foods are specially formulated to be higher in calories than other similar options. High-calorie cat foods are high in fiber and protein. In the same serving size, your kitty will consume more calories than they would with traditional cat food. This can help ensure they gain more weight.

When choosing a high-calorie food for your cat, you’ll find that there are various options to consider, including wet, dry, organic, fresh, homemade, or some mix of all of the above. Since many cats who need high-calorie cat food are also pickier eaters, it is generally a good idea to stick to flavors that you know your kitty enjoys to increase the chances that she’ll eat her new food.

Continue reading to learn about our picks for the best high-calorie cat food and find the one that is best for your kitty!

  1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Formula Dry Cat Food
  2. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Formula Dry Cat Food
    • Specifically for non-active indoor cats
    • Fiber sources are natural
    • No fillers, artificial additives, or grains
    • Less fat
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
  4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
    • Grain free chicken cat pate contains chicken liver, organ meat, complex carbs and flaxseed
    • No corn, wheat, by-products, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives
    • 24 pack of 5.5oz cans
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe
  6. Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe
    • Contains over 95% protein
    • Added vegetables and fruits
    • No grains or potatoes
    • Contains chicken, chicken liver, and turkey
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  7. Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra-Soft Mousse in Sauce
  8. Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra-Soft Mousse in Sauce
    • First ingredient is water for moisture
    • High levels of protein and meat
    • Cats love the smooth texture
    • Very easy for small kittens to eat
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

The Top Picks for the Best High-Calorie Cat Foods: Ranked and Rated

#1 Best Overall: Wellness CORE Gain-Free Dry Cat Food

When weight gain is a priority for your kitty, consider trying the Wellness CORE dry food, our overall best choice for a high-calorie cat food. This food features high concentrations of turkey protein and offers 497 kcal per cup. In addition to the high-quality animal protein found in the food, Wellness also added nutritional supplements and superfoods, like cranberries, for a cat’s overall health.

This cat food offers balanced nutrition to help kitties stay healthy, keep their skin and coat healthy and shiny, support their immune, digestive, and urinary systems, and keep their teeth and eyes healthy.

The food is made in the United States using non-GMO ingredients. It has a tasty turkey recipe that most cats are sure to enjoy and is available in a 2-, 5-, or 11-pound bag, although some buyers reported that their cats wouldn’t eat it.

Pros and Cons of Wellness CORE Gain-Free Dry Cat Food

ProsCons
This dry cat food features high concentrations of turkey protein and an impressive 497 kcal per cup.Some pet parents report that their cats won’t eat it.
The formula also includes supplements and superfoods like cranberries to promote your cat’s overall health.
The balanced nutrition in this recipe supports skin, coat, immune, digestive, urinary, dental, and vision health.
This high-calorie cat food is made in the US from non-GMO ingredients.
This turkey recipe is available in 2-, 5-, or 11-pound bags.
Premium Choice
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Formula Dry Cat Food
  • Specifically for non-active indoor cats
  • Fiber sources are natural
  • No fillers, artificial additives, or grains
  • Less fat
Check Chewy Check Amazon

2. Best Wet Food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Canned Food

With 155 calories per 100 grams, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Canned Food is another top option to consider. This food has a tasty chicken flavor that most cats are sure to love, though some buyers reported that their cats won’t eat it. It also has a smooth paté texture that will be easy for all kitties, including those with dental issues, to eat.

Blue Buffalo only uses safe and natural ingredients combined with the essential vitamins and minerals kitties need when making their foods. This grain-free option does not contain any wheat. It is also free of chicken by-products, corn, soy, artificial flavors, and artificial preservatives.

Choose from 3-, 5.5-, or 12.5-ounce cans.

Pros and Cons of Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Canned Food

ProsCons
This grain-free, chicken-flavored, canned cat food contains 155 calories per 100 grams.Some cats won’t eat it.
It features a smooth pâté texture that’s easy for all cats, including those with dental issues, to eat.
The manufacturer only includes safe, natural ingredients combined with essential vitamins and minerals in their products.
This high-calorie cat food is also free from chicken by-products, corn, soy, artificial flavors, and artificial preservatives.
It’s available in 3-, 5.5-, or 12.5-ounce cans.
Best Wet Food
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
  • Grain free chicken cat pate contains chicken liver, organ meat, complex carbs and flaxseed
  • No corn, wheat, by-products, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives
  • 24 pack of 5.5oz cans
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best High-Protein: Instinct Original Grain-Free Paté

If you’re looking for high-protein food to help your cat gain weight, consider Instinct Original Grain-Free Paté. The canned cat food is made with 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver, giving your kitty a lot of healthy protein. The remaining 5% of the food is fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome and nutritious ingredients. Instinct does not add any grains, potato, corn, soy, wheat, carrageenan, by-product meals, artificial preservatives, or artificial flavors to their foods.

Each can of this cat food has 193 calories. It can be served as a meal by itself or used as a meal topper to up the calorie count of dry food. The food has a tasty chicken flavor that kitties are sure to enjoy. You can purchase a 24-pack of 3-ounce cans or a 12-pack of 5.5-ounce cans.

Customer complaints include that their cats don’t like it, the “recipe has changed,” and that it’s too expensive.

Pros and Cons of Instinct Original Grain-Free Paté

ProsCons
This grain-free paté is made with lots of healthy animal protein, including 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver.Some cats won’t eat it.
The remaining 5% of this recipe is comprised of fruits, veggies, and other nutritious ingredients.According to some buyers, the “recipe has changed.”
The manufacturer does not add any grains, potato, corn, soy, wheat, carrageenan, by-product meals, artificial preservatives, or artificial flavors to their products.Some pet parents feel that it’s too expensive.
Each can contains 193 calories and can be served as a complete meal or as a meal “topper” to increase the calorie count of your cat’s meal.
This recipe is available in a 24-pack of 3-ounce cans or a 12-pack of 5.5-ounce cans
Best For Balanced Nutrition
Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe
  • Contains over 95% protein
  • Added vegetables and fruits
  • No grains or potatoes
  • Contains chicken, chicken liver, and turkey
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best For Pregnant/Nursing Mothers or Newborns: Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra Soft Mousse

Mother cats are eating for two, so they need extra calories in Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra Soft Mousse to stay healthy throughout their pregnancy. Nursing mothers, on the same token, need extra nutrition for recovery from labor, while also feeding a litter of kittens. Newborn kittens are also prime candidates for food that they can handle that will also help them put on weight as they are adjusting to life outside the womb.

Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra Soft Mousse contains complex antioxidants, digestible proteins, prebiotics, and DHA, all of which not only aid kittens ages one through four months in healthy development, but also help mama cats remain healthy through their time of gestation and lactating.

The 3-ounce cans are packed with very soft chicken-flavored mousse pâté suitable for the youngest of kittens. It can be served as a meal by itself or used as a meal topper on dry food. The food is available in 24-packs of 3-ounce cans or 24-packs of 5.1-ounce cans.

The primary customer complaint is that it’s too expensive.

Pros and Cons of Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra Soft Mousse

ProsCons
This soft mousse is ideal for pregnant and nursing momma cats and for kittens aged one through four months.Some customers say that it’s too expensive.
This recipe contains antioxidants, digestible proteins, prebiotics, and DHA (an Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish)
This very soft chicken-flavored mousse pâté is suitable for the youngest of kittens.
You may feed it as a complete meal or as a topper on dry food.
This high-calorie cat food is available in 24-packs of 3-ounce cans or 24-packs of 5.1-ounce cans.
Best for New Kittens
Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra-Soft Mousse in Sauce
  • First ingredient is water for moisture
  • High levels of protein and meat
  • Cats love the smooth texture
  • Very easy for small kittens to eat
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Why Do Cats Need a High-Calorie Food?

There are a few different reasons cats may need high-calorie food. High-calorie foods can give kitties more energy than standard cat foods and can be a good option to facilitate weight gain in cats. Below are some types of cats that may benefit from a high-calorie food:

  • Seniors: Senior cats (older than 10) need a higher amount of protein and calories since their bodies begin processing foods more quickly. Some seniors also become pickier eaters, and a high-calorie food can help them consume more calories in a smaller portion to make up for not eating as much food.
  • Sick cats: Kitties who are sick or recovering from surgical procedures often have a decreased appetite. Feeding them a high-calorie food can help bridge the gap in the calories they’d be missing out on by not eating their normal full serving of food.
  • Cats with tooth or mouth problems: Dental problems, loss of teeth, or other pain in the mouth can make it difficult or even painful for cats to eat. This can make cats eat less and cause them to lose weight. Choosing a high-calorie wet food will provide them with something soft and easier to choose that is packed with energy to help keep them from losing weight.
  • Underweight cats: Some underweight cats may simply need a larger serving of their standard cat food. However, if your kitty is picky and isn’t eating the full serving you’re giving her, switching to a high-calorie food may be the right answer.
  • Kittens: Since kittens are growing so rapidly, they need to eat more calories to put on more weight. However, if you’re looking for a higher-calorie food for kittens, be sure to choose one that is specially formulated for their growing and developmental needs.
  • Pregnant or nursing mother cats: Pregnant cats are eating for two, while nursing cats are expending lots of calories while their babies drink their milk. It’s imperative that female cats in either of these situations get the extra calories necessary to maintain a healthy weight.

Our Criteria and Experience: How We Chose the Best

When making our recommendations for the best high-calorie cat food, we looked at what kinds of ingredients are necessary to help your cat put on weight, while at the same time eating healthy. We researched foods that are vet-recommended, and contain vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, or other supplements that promote overall health in your cat. We also looked for foods that earned the best positive feedback as far as taste goes, as no pet animal has earned the tag “finicky” quite like a cat. Lastly, we wanted to provide wet and dry food options. Here are a few additional comments of our top choices:

  • Wellness CORE Gain-Free Dry Cat Food: We really liked how the calorie count of this food compared with other options we looked at. Most kitties that have eaten it seemed to really enjoy the taste, too. However, one reviewer expressed that their senior cat wasn’t very interested in this food and seemed to only want wet food.
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Canned Food: This wet food was a big hit with many cat owners, who said their cats loved the way it tastes. However, many wished the food was a bit more reasonably priced.
  • Instinct Original Grain-Free Pâté : We found great success using this canned food with some of our pickier cats who needed to gain weight. However, as with most foods, there always seems to be one kitty who has different tastes than the others and didn’t seem to enjoy this flavor.
  • Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra Soft Mousse: We thought it was important to include a selection suitable for the beloved mothers who bring cats into the world, as well as their newborn babies. This blend is a highly-rated favorite among cat owners, who agree that the taste is very appealing to adult and baby cats alike. One of our reviewers actually did a taste test of several wet foods against this one, and Royal Canin won hands down with her cat.

Up Next…

About the Author

My passion is writing about animals. I’ve published articles on pet parrots, birds, and small animal care and reviews about pet food and products. I have an ever-evolving aviary and menagerie that has included cockatiels, parakeets, conures, European starlings, a chukar partridge, guinea pigs, dogs, and cats. I’m also the author of Faith without Labels: a Guide to Eclectic Spirituality.

High-Calorie Cat Food: Ranked and Reviewed FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What can I feed my cat to make it gain weight?

Choosing a high-calorie cat food that is formulated to help underweight or senior kitties gain weight can help. You should also check with your veterinarian to see if there are any specific nutrients that your kitty needs. They may prescribe a special diet or recommend supplementing the food you choose with other ingredients or special vitamins.

What is the highest calorie cat food?

Two of the highest calorie cat foods we found were the Wellness CORE Gain-Free Dry Cat Food and Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Canned Food. Wellness CORE has 497 kcal per cup, and Blue Buffalo Wilderness has 155 calories per 100 ounces.

Next, combine the nutritional supplement with water in a bowl and stir them together. Then, mix in unsalted, cooked ground chicken with the water/supplement mixture.

Portion out the chicken and supplement into individual servings of 2 to 3 ounces. Cover and refrigerate each serving until your kitty is ready to eat it. Each ounce of this recipe provides approximately 45 calories.

Is wet or dry cat food higher in calories?

Most dry kitty foods are higher in calories than canned foods. Wet food is often recommended for weight loss, while dry food may be a better option for cats who are underweight and need to put on some pounds. Wet food often has a higher protein content though, so you may want to keep this in mind as well. Generally speaking, high fiber foods can help with weight loss, so you may want to avoid wet or dry foods with these formulas.

How do I make high-calorie cat food?

If you are looking to feed your kitty more of a fresh food diet, homemade high-calorie cat food may be your best choice. To make homemade food for your cat, you’ll need to purchase a nutritional supplement for cats. Check with your veterinarian to see what they recommend and also confirm that they see the recipe below as a good fit for your kitty’s specific health, nutrition, and weight gain needs. For example, they may recommend a high fiber or protein diet based on your cat’s needs.

Then, you can grind a whole, cooked, unsalted chicken in a food processor until it is very well puréed. Look for it to have the same consistency you would see when opening a can of kitty food.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.