Have you ever found a stray that was a little underweight? Maybe your cat became sick and lost several pounds? Whatever your situation, sometimes our feline friends need some extra calories in order to obtain the proper nourishment they need.
Learn how to make your cat gain weight, and see our selection of high-calorie cat food for the best cat food to gain weight.
In this article:
- Why Is Your Cat Losing Weight?
- How to Make Your Cat Gain Weight
- High-Calorie Cat Food Selection (dry, wet and homemade)
- Best Cat Food for Weight Gain
- Our Personal Experience with Yoda
- Final Thoughts: How to Fatten Up a Cat
Why Is Your Cat Losing Weight?
First, before adjusting your cat’s diet or feeding schedule, it’s important to check with the veterinarian to find out why your cat is losing weight or why your cat won’t gain weight.
If your cat at home is losing weight and you don’t know why then check with the vet first. Your cat may have an underlying health condition or the food you provide may not be nutritious enough.
Just as a quick reminder, here are a few reasons as to why your cat may lose weight:
- Worms/intestinal parasites
- Food/food allergies
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Anxiety, stress, etc.
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Cancer/cardiovascular diseases
A few more possible explanations as to why your cat might be losing weight, according to veterinarian Bob Pane:
How to Make Your Cat Gain Weight
There are several ways you can help your kitty reach a healthy weight. Remember, always consult a vet before making drastic changes to your cat’s diet. Moreover, if you’re ever unsure or have doubts, don’t hesitate to talk to your vet!
1. Check for signs of worms or illness
In many cases, your cat might not be gaining weight because of worms or parasites. Sometimes you might go months without realizing your cat has worms. If your cat looks scraggy, isn’t gaining weight, or has poor fur quality, check your cat for worms. A quick deworming tablet will help rid of any worms so your cat can once again gain weight.
2. Select a healthy & nutritious food brand
Choosing a high-quality cat food is the first step. Make sure that the first couple ingredients include real, wholesome meat (protein).
Avoid cat foods high in corn, soy, cereals, additives, meat by-products, etc., as these are difficult to digest and not nutritionally-beneficial for cats (especially over the long-term).
Select cat foods that are high in protein with a quality amount of fats. Avoid carbs and aim for only premium cat food brands.
3. Increase cat food amount + frequency
Help your cat gain weight by increasing feeding frequency and amounts. Cats would much prefer to eat smaller portions of food several times a day rather than one large bowl once per day.
It is actually more natural for their digestive systems and will encourage kitty to have an appetite and eat more. Try increasing the amount of food and spreading it out across the day.
So instead of one lump of kibble once a day, split it into 3 (for example).
Dry cat food is often higher in calories than wet cat food (because of moisture content, etc). However, if you choose to provide a dry-food diet to your cat, just make sure to provide plenty of fresh, clean water to ensure your cat is getting hydrated properly!
4. Use a mixture of dry and wet cat food
If you wish to encourage a finicky cat to eat more and gain weight, try mixing the dry cat food with wet cat food. In most cases, cats are drawn towards wet cat food more than plain dry kibble. This trick is what helped our Yoda gain weight (more on that below).
5. Give tasty treats in between meal times
Another way to fatten up your cat is to give supplemental tasty treats in between meal times. It’s great for boosting your cat’s calorie intake. Just pay attention not to spoil him/her too often, otherwise, they might lose excitement for their dinner. 😉
H3 essentials offer a great line of healthy, freeze-dried cat treats that treat kitty to nutritious raw meat. A part of the proceeds helps support the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Florida.
Read about Yoda and his awesome treats to help spread the word about the “Little cats helping big cats” campaign.
6. Supplement kibble with “human” food
In addition to a healthy dry and wet cat food diet, consider adding wholesome cooked ingredients to their meal–such as unseasoned chicken breast or plain rice. You can indeed use human food to fatten up a cat. Check out our handy article on human foods cats can eat (and foods that should be avoided).
See our updated “Can Cats Eat That??” article on the top FAQ about which popular foods cats can eat.
7. Always provide a fresh bowl of cool water
In addition to increasing your cat’s food proportions or supplementing their diet with fattening treats, always make sure to provide a fresh bowl of water every day. Hydration (or lack thereof) is a leading factor in the overall health of your cat and their weight.
If you find yourself out of time (or find yourself forgetting) to clean out your cat’s water bowl and refreshen it with new water, then consider getting a cat water fountain.
8. Keep your cat active
Just like with us humans, cats work up an appetite after they exercise. Keeping your cat active could actually help your cat gain weight by stimulating the senses and “revving up the engine,” so to speak. In observing Yoda, he has much more of an appetite after being active all morning (or afternoon) rather than after he wakes up from a long nap.
High-Calorie Best Cat Food for Weight Gain
A high-calorie diet is packed with lots of protein and fat content. The cat food options below are premium cat food brands that will help your cat reach its ideal weight and stay there. They are packed with protein, are nutrient-dense, and meet the nutritional levels required for a healthy, happy feline.
Kitten food offers a well-balanced diet for pregnant cats, and it’s recommended to get special senior cat food for older cats — but in either case, it’s always important to check with your vet first. Also, kitten foods tend to be higher in fat content, which might be an option for quickly fattening up your cat.
Healthy High-Calorie Dry Cat Food
When looking for reliable cat food brands we recommend the following best high calorie dry cat foods:
|Food||Brand||Price||Quantity||Highlights||Calories (ME)||Crude Protein||Crude Fat|
|Blue Buffalo||$$||11 lbs||Protein-rich chicken|
No chicken (or poultry) by-product meals
No grain, corn, wheat or soy, artificial flavors or preservatives
|443 kcal/cup||40.0% min||18.0% min|
|Instinct||$$||11 lbs||Cage-free chicken|
No grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy
No by-product meals, artificial colors or preservatives
|488 kcal/cup||43.0% min||19.5% min|
|Wellness||$$$||11 lbs||Deboned turkey and chicken|
No corn, wheat, or soy
No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
|497 kcal/cup||45.0% min||18.0% min|
Our Top Choice to Help Cats Gain Weight: Blue Buffalo Wilderness
Even though the 2 other options offer a slightly higher protein content, Blue Buffalo is our personal favorite. It’s a brand we have been trusting for years with our Yoda and it worked wonders when we needed it most (see our experience below).
This brand was created by the Bishop family, inspired by their pet “Blue” who struggled with cancer. Their research for the healthiest solutions led them to create a super high-quality pet food that would only use the finest ingredients.
This is exactly what Blue Buffalo provides: Quality ingredients (made in the US) that will nourish your beast and provide your cat with healthy, wholesome nourishment.
💙 What We Love About Blue Buffalo’s Cat Food💙
- Balanced calories from proteins and fats: 443 calories/cup, 40% protein and 18% crude fat!
- Grain-free + holistically created
- A magic combo of omegas, amino acid + exclusive blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
- Made in the USA by a company that gives back (check out their foundation for cancer!)
More on our High-Calorie Dry Cat Food Selection
Each of the above choices in the table offers wholesome, rich-in-protein, nutritional ingredients.
While these options are great for everyday use to keep your cat healthy, gain weight and maintain weight, these are not specially designed for super quick weight gain (for severely injured or ill cats, for example).
Remember, the best food to make a skinny cat gain weight is 1.) a healthy food (like the ones above), 2.) optimal feeding frequency + fresh water, 3.) extra cat treats or calorie-dense nutritional cat gel.
Prescription formulas for weak or sick cats (aka high-calorie cat food for sick cats) should be recommended by a vet, however, many vets and pet owners recommend providing a supplemental calorie-dense gel, such as Tomlyn’s (see below) to help add calories to your cat’s meal fast.
Tomlyn’s high-calorie nutritional gel for cats contains 30.0% crude fat and has 28 kcal per teaspoon. Simply add a little bit to your cat’s dish at meal time for quick weight gain or use to attract an otherwise finicky cat to eat.
In cases where you have already spoken with a vet and you know your cat’s target weight, the above food brands are a great source of healthy nutrition for cats.
High-Calorie Wet Cat Food for Weight Gain
We’ve compared TEN popular wet cat food brands to find the highest caloric content in each, combined with the highest percentage of crude protein and crude fat. Here are the top 3 most fattening wet cat foods from our comparison.
When looking for the best-canned cat food for weight gain we recommend the following:
|Food||Brand||Price||Quantity||Highlights||Calories (ME)||Crude Protein + Fat (Min)|
|Blue Buffalo||$$||3-oz (24 pack)||Protein #1 ingredient|
Grain-free, no chicken/poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy
|Chicken: 132 kcal/3-oz can|
Duck: 128 kcal/3-oz can
|10.0% protein, 9.0% fat
10.0% protein, 9.0% fat
|Wellness||$$$||3-oz (12 pack)||Protein-rich with turkey and duck as first ingredients |
Grain-free, no meat by-products, artificial colors, flavorings, preservatives, corn, wheat or soy
|117 kcal/3-oz can||12.0% protein, 8.0% fat|
|Instinct by Nature's Variety||$$+||3-oz (24 pack)||Real chicken and turkey (95%), veggies and fruits (5%)|
No grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors or preservatives
|105 kcal/3-oz can||11.0% protein, 7.5% fat|
Our Top Choice for Wet Cat Food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness (again!)
We promise you, this post is not sponsored by Blue Buffalo, we simply believe that they have the best-canned cat food for weight gain (and in general) out there.
Their wet cat food is made with the same delicious & nutritious ingredients than the dry version but with the added moisture that guarantees increased hydration that will contribute to your cat’s digestive and urinary health.
It’s also a great way to make kitty’s meal a little bit more enticing! Without saying that you need to feed your cat with caviar, it’s important to try and provide him or her with some variety in their diet.
Boredom could lead to lower food intake, resulting in disappointing results in terms of weight gain. Don’t hesitate to try different flavors to understand what your cat loves.
Remember, it’s sometimes better to choose a food with a slightly lower calorie content if it’s the only way your cat will eat!
Improvements for the canned version: The variety pack only comes in the very small cans which are more expensive. However, buying in bulk for a specific flavor will save you money. We often buy a single flavor pack of 24 until it runs out and then switch flavors.
Homemade High Calorie Cat Food: Our Recipe
If you want to prepare the best homemade high-calorie cat food (as a supplement to the options mentioned above), our recipe will give you the keys to make a simple wholesome meal that will help your kitty get back to its normal weight.
- Raw chicken (with bone if you have a grinder) ==> 1 cup
- Raw salmon ==> 1 cup
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon of Tomlyn’s high-calorie nutritional gel
Mix the chicken + bones in a grinder. Then, mix it with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor until you get the right consistency (similar to wet food texture). You can now serve this feast to your beast! (Read more about homemade cat food here).
Use this simple homemade recipe as an appetizing snack to fatten up your cat (but please provide a regular balanced diet for your cat as well).
Our Experience: When Yoda Missed His Pawents!
After spending a few months in sunny Mexico, we had to fly for the summer to visit family and friends back in France and the USA. A good friend of ours was taking care of our beast until the day we were coming back. Brittany was supposed to fly back after three weeks, but her trip was delayed by two weeks.
When we came back after roughly five weeks, our beast had lost 1.1 kg. It was clearly visible and we started worrying that he might have caught something while we were gone.
After a visit at the vet and a long week of feeding him a combo of dry and wet cat food, plus treats, our Yoda was already on his way back to his normal chubbiness, eating plenty and getting his little belly back.
To entice him back to his food bowl, we used both wet and dry food from Blue Buffalo and some watery tuna juice every now and then. 😉
It appears our furry friend dearly missed us and our absence translated into a big loss of appetite. Nothing more, nothing less! This was a big lesson for us and highlighted once more that animals have a deep affection for us (even if they don’t always show it). If they perceive time in their own way, they certainly perceive the absence of their human friends!
Final Thoughts: How to Fatten up a Cat – Best Cat Food to Gain Weight 2019
Weight gain in cats is tricky and just as important as weight loss in cats, as both of these areas can become a life-threatening issue. Always take note when your cat is losing weight as this is a sign of a physical, mental, or health problem. Sometimes simply changing their diet serves as a quick fix, however, don’t take any risks!
Weight loss can happen very fast, so it’s important to keep your cat’s health in check. Never hesitate to contact a vet if you have any doubts about your cat’s health.
These foods above are tried and tested. Not only will these cat foods help your cat gain its weight back, but they’ll help your cat maintain a healthy weight.
For more information on cat nutrition, visit our ultimate guide here.