High-calorie cat foods are something many pet parents turn to in time of need. Unless your cat is carrying extra pounds, their weight may not be something you worry about too often. However, keeping tabs on your tabby’s weight fluctuations is crucial for parents of all cats, not just the “extra fluffy” ones. 

Just as overweight cats are at greater risk for certain diseases, so, too, are underweight cats. A lower-than-normal weight could also be a sign of unrelated pain or other health issues, ranging from a sore tooth or upset stomach to diseases like feline diabetes.

Whatever is causing your cat’s low weight, once your veterinarian diagnoses the issue, adding high-calorie cat food to the menu could be part of the treatment plan.

But there are some important things to consider before making the switch, according to Dr. Susie Garity, staff veterinarian at the San Diego Humane Society.

“It’s important to consult with your veterinarian regarding your cat’s caloric and dietary needs prior to making any changes to their diet,” Garity says. “Your veterinarian can take into account their underlying health condition and help you select the best nutrition plan for your cat.”

Our Top Picks

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Best High-Calorie Cat Food Formulas 

To help you narrow down your choices, here are our top picks for high-calorie cat foods in a variety of categories. 

Best Overall High-Calorie Cat Food

Our pick: Merrick Backcountry Real Duck Recipe Cuts

Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe Dry Cat Food

If you want your cat to gain weight — especially if they haven’t had much of an appetite — great-tasting cat food is key! That’s one of the many reasons we ranked Merrick Backcountry Recipe Cuts cat food top on our list of high-calorie formulas. Not only is the recipe packed with the premium, calorie-dense ingredients your cat needs for complete and balanced nutrition, but it’s also specifically crafted for ultimate palatability. This distinctive cat food is based on an “ancestral diet,” highlighting protein-rich morsels in gravy to deliver tastes and textures cats crave. Featuring duck and turkey meat, the Real Duck recipe contains 998 kcal per kilogram (or 85 kcal per 3 oz pouch. Merrick recommends feeding your cat three pouches per 6-8 lbs of body weight each day, and they even have a helpful feeding calculator on each product page, which makes measuring out the perfect portion for your cat’s caloric needs super easy.


  • The protein-rich, high-calorie food lists real deboned duck as the primary ingredient.
  • Morsels mixed with gravy provide a delicious, nutritious meal for your cat.
  • No grain, wheat, corn, or gluten.
  • Comes in a wide selection of flavors, as well recipes for kittens.
  • Cooked and processed in the USA.

Things to Consider

  • With a premium pet food comes a premium price.

Best High Calorie Canned Cat Food

Our pick: Open Farm Grass-Fed Beef Rustic Blend

Grass-Fed Beef Rustic Blend High-Calorie Cat Food

20% off first auto-ship order with code VETSTREET

If your cat prefers the texture of wet food, here’s a high-calorie wet food recipe sure to please their palate. Open Farm is made with human-grade ingredients, including ethically-sourced, grass-fed beef that’s pasture-raised without antibiotics, paired with local produce and nutrient-dense superfoods like pumpkin and cranberries. Open Farm Grass-Fed Beef Custom Blend contains 1,000 kcal per kilogram (or 169 kcal/carton). 


  • Formulated to help pets thrive
  • Ingredients can be traced back to the source using lot number on packaging
  • Can be fed as a complete meal (wet food) or a topper on dry food
  • Available in chicken, salmon, herring, and mackerel flavors
  • Includes nutritious superfoods like coconut oil, which is rich in omega 9 fatty acids and an excellent source of energy
  • Free of grain, fillers, and by-products
  • Contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Easy-to-serve, resealable, BPA-free packaging

Things to Consider

  • Must be refrigerated after opening
  • Pay close attention to “best by” dates before feeding

Best Subscription Delivery Service

Our pick: Smalls Food for Cats

Smalls ground bird High-Calorie Cat Foods

32% off + free treats for life with code VETSTREET5

If it’s good enough for people to eat, Smalls knows cats will love it, too. Each Smalls recipe is made from human-grade food with all-natural ingredients. Smalls focuses on high moisture, high-quality animal protein, and low carbs. It is an energy-dense food with about 40 calories per ounce and over 31 percent fat. According to Smalls, adult cats eat about 20 kcal per pound daily. Each Smalls packet of food contains a 200 kcal serving with an average 10-pound cat in mind. Pet parents can split the packet between breakfast and dinner.


  • 200 cals in each package with four flavors: Chicken, turkey, beef, and fish
  • Each ingredient is sourced from the United States or Canada
  • USDA certified human-grade formaulas
  • Convenient subscription service so you’ll never run out of food
  • Added vegetables mimic what cats would eat if they were in the wild
  • Meals arrive frozen to your residence

Things to Consider

  • Smalls wet food can be kept in a sealed container or bag in the fridge up to 5 days. In the freezer, it can last for up to 12 months
  • No offerings for cats with kidney disease
  • Growing kittens under 12 months old will require 30-40kcal per pound
  • Pregnant and lactating cats must be fed  2-4x the adult amount daily

Best Dry High-Calorie Dry Food For Older Cats

Our pick: Nulo Freestyle Senior Dry Cat Food

Nulo freestyle senior dry cat food

A whopping 78 percent of protein comes from poultry and fish animal sources in Nulo’s Freestyle Senior Dry Cat Food. Grain free and made without any white potatoes and tapioca, this premium high calorie cat food for senior cats also contains a patented human-grade probiotic (BC30). It helps older cats maintain a healthy weight thanks to natural fiber and L-carnitine included in the formula. Each cup contains 431 kcal of animal-based protein while being very low in carbs.


  • Contains low glycemic ingredients to provide stable energy levels in senior cats
  • High levels of animal-based protein from meat and fish
  • Small, disc-shaped kibble is easy on senior cat teeth
  • Helpful resealable closure on the bag
  • Made in the USA
  • Fortified with antioxidants and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid

Things to Consider

  • A bit on the pricier side compared to other options on our list
  • Amount fed depends on the weight of your older cat

Best High Calorie Cat Food For Seniors

Our pick: Royal Canin Aging 12+

Royal Canin Aging 12+ Loaf In Sauce Canned Cat Food

Mature and aging cats often struggle with loss of appetite in their golden years, so Golden Canin has developed a formula that’s precisely balanced to deliver everything your senior feline needs for healthy aging. Designed for cats ages 12 years and older, this delicious high-calorie loaf in sauce is the perfect texture for sensitive teeth and gums. Plus, it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids to support aging joints and contains reduced phosphorus levels for kidney health. Royal Canin Aging high calorie diet for cats contains 844 kcal per kilogram (122 kcal per can).


  • Calorie-dense so senior cats get essential calories even with decreased appetites
  • Satisfies even the pickiest eaters with an instinctively preferred ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
  • Higher levels of essential fatty acids are good for aging joints.
  • Non-prescription food

Things to Consider

  • It’s designed for older cats so care needs to be taken in multi-cat households with younger cats
  • It’s not a grain-free or non-GMO formula 

Best Prescription Cat Food with High Calories

Our Pick: Hills Prescription Diet/Urgent Care

Hill's Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care Canned Dog and Cat Food, a a high-calorie cat foods

In addition to extra TLC, pets recovering from surgery, illness, or injury need extra nourishment and nutrition, too. This high-calorie prescription diet was designed to give stressed and ailing pets the boost they need to maintain strong natural defenses and improve recovery. The recipe includes turkey liver, pork liver, chicken, and other delicious, protein-rich ingredients to help combat lost appetites and encourage a quicker return to full health. This prescription diet contains 1180 kcal per kilogram (183 kcal per 5.5 oz can).


  • Protein-rich, calorie-dense recipe promotes wound and tissue healing and boosts the immune system
  • Super soft consistency can be fed in a bowl or via syringe or feeding tube
  • Added potassium helps combat potential nutrient deficiencies
  • Formulated for dogs and cats

Things to Consider

  • A prescription is required
  • Intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only; not recommended for long-term feeding (more than 6 months)
  • The price of $69 per case could be cost-prohibitive 

Best Grain-Free Calorie Dense Cat Food

Our pick: Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Formula

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Formula Dry Cat Food, a a high-calorie cat foods

When it comes to optimal nutrition, the quality of ingredients in your cat’s food matters as much as the calorie count. Wellness CORE grain-free, protein-rich recipe features deboned turkey and chicken as the first ingredients and contains 65% high-quality protein and added probiotics. Formulated with flaxseed, salmon oil, and antioxidants like cranberries to support skin health and overall immunity, this recipe contains 3,977 kcal per kilogram (or 497 kcal/cup).


  • Grain-free formula contains no wheat, gluten, corn, soy, or eggs
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
  • Also available as a wet food
  • Multiple sizes available; purchase a small bag to see if your finicky feline likes the flavor
  • Made in the USA.

Things to Consider

  • It’s priced as a premium pet food
  • Although it’s a grain-free formula, if your cat has a grain allergy or sensitivity, be aware that it’s made in a facility that processes grains 

Best High Calorie Kitten Food

Our pick: Royal Canin Mother and Babycat Ultra-Soft Mousse

Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra-Soft Mousse in Sauce Wet Cat Food, a high-calorie cat foods

Pregnant and nursing mother cats and newborn kittens have specialized nutritional needs that most cat foods can’t fulfill. That’s why Royal Canin designed this delicious mousse to deliver everything feline mothers and kittens need to support healthy development and growth.

This specialized high calorie wet cat food formula is packed with the additional calories momma cats need while gestating and nursing, plus crucial DHA — an omega-3 fatty acid that boosts brain development in the womb. It’s also precisely calibrated to provide the nutrition young kittens need for growing bones, emerging teeth, and developing immune and digestive systems as they transition from nursing to solids. This diet contains 919 kcal per kilogram (78 kcal per can) and is appropriate for pregnant and nursing mother cats, as well as kittens from 1 to 4 months. 


  • Nutrient-dense formula supports the needs of nursing cats and growing kittens
  • Soft texture helps kittens transition from nursing to solid foods
  • Contains immune system-strengthening antioxidants and vitamins
  • Features highly digestible proteins and prebiotics 
  • Also comes in a dry food formula
  • No prescription required

Things to Consider

  • It’s not designed for regular/ongoing feeding
  • Only one flavor is available 

What is High-Calorie Cat Food?

Cat eating from the bowl filled with high-calorie cat foods

Though a cat food high calorie formula may sound like an unhealthy indulgence, as long as the recipe meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards for “complete and balanced” nutrition, you can feel good about feeding it to your cat. 

High-calorie cat foods, as their name suggests, are higher in calories than conventional cat food. But they’re far from junk food. These foods are manufactured with additional protein and fat to boost the number of calories per serving while still providing the nutrition cats need for development.

Veterinarians often recommend high-calorie cat food for sick cats, senior cats, and underweight cats who need to gain extra pounds.

“Cats can sometimes be selective or picky about what they eat,” explains Garity. “This is even more pronounced when they develop illnesses or as they age into their senior years. High-calorie foods allow the cat to eat smaller amounts of food while still taking in enough calories.” 

Why Would Cats Need High Calories Cat Food?

Cat looking up confused but in front of him is high-calorie cat foods

The highest calorie cat food options aren’t necessarily appropriate for all cats. Veterinarians might recommend a caloric boost for cats who are underweight due to health issues ranging from chronic pain, dental disease, and intestinal parasites to lung disease, cancer, and stomach issues

Garity notes that senior cats and cats on convalescent care might also need high-calorie foods. A high-calorie diet may also benefit kittens who are underweight due to illness or deemed “unthrifty”—failing to grow or develop normally.

These calorie-dense foods are also a go-to for malnourished cats who have just been rescued and critical patients that have experienced trauma or surgery, including those who need feeding tubes.

“As veterinarians, we typically reach for high-calorie foods when cats are dealing with illnesses,” Garity adds. Because calorie-dense cat foods are more efficient, a sick kitty who may already be suffering a reduced appetite doesn’t have to eat as much to meet their daily caloric requirements.

Why Is My Cat Losing Weight?

Cats, like all animals, may lose weight. Sometimes it can be from a simple reason such as they aren’t eating (or getting) enough food. Your cat may also not care for a certain food any longer. However, cats may start losing weight for medical reasons, in which case a visit to the veterinarian’s office is in order. Some common medical reasons cats lose weight include, but are not limited to:

  • Intestinal parasites like worms
  • Diabetes
  • Feline viral disease (FIP, FeLV, or FIV)
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer

High calorie food for cats may be part of the treatment plan your veterinarian recommends.

If you have a senior cat losing weight, there are at least common causes. This includes everything from feline cancer to hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease in cats. Make sure to visit your veterinarian if your cat suddenly starts losing weight. It’s not always due to the normal aging process.

Your veterinarian may recommend a high-calorie cat food for senior cats, which you can consider from our list above.

Precautions When Feeding a High-Calorie Cat Food

Cat looking to camera

The key to ensuring your cat gets the greatest benefit out of a high-calorie diet is to consult your veterinarian about the best choice for your pet’s needs before switching their food. 

“High-calorie foods are often high in protein and fats,” Garity warns. “The increase in these nutrients is often contraindicated for cats with conditions such as kidney disease or gastrointestinal disease.”

It’s also important to practice portion control and monitor your cat’s weight while feeding a high-calorie diet because too much weight gain can also cause health issues. It’s often used as a short-term solution to address a health issue.

High fat cat food selections may also be high in calories. Read the label for digestible formulas to help put on the extra weight your cat may need.

Talk to your veterinarian about high calorie cat treats and high calorie cat treats for weight gain, as too much of a good thing is not always best. Providing your kitty with cat treats is appropriate, but use caution with overindulging.

Some felines may prefer a highest calorie canned cat food while others will take to a high calorie cat food that is dry or from a subscription service.

Offering your cat the right high-calorie cat food for their specific health needs can provide appropriate amounts of calorie-dense nutrition to promote healthy growth and development.