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Obesity is a major problem in pets but cats, in particular, tend to struggle with weight loss. Senior cats often have trouble keeping on weight and certain health problems may contribute to unhealthy weight loss in cats.
Because the average body weight for a healthy cat is only about 10 pounds, a loss of even a single pound could be significant.
We’ve compiled a list of the best cat foods for weight gain but, before we get into them, let’s talk about the potential causes for unhealthy weight loss in cats and how to fix them.
What Causes Unhealthy Weight Loss in Cats
Most cat owners worry about their cats gaining weight, but unexplained weight loss is a valid concern as well. In cats, unhealthy weight loss may be due to decreased metabolic activity with age or it could be linked to an underlying medical problem.
Here are some of the most common causes of unhealthy weight loss in cats:
- Low-calorie intake or low-quality diet
- Anxiety, stress, or depression (causing low appetite)
- Feline diabetes mellitus
- Intestinal parasites or other GI infections
- Age-related diseases (ex: kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, or cancer)
- Dental problems
- Neurologic or central nervous system disorders
Weight loss equal to or greater than 10% of a cat’s body weight is cause for concern and should be immediately addressed by a veterinarian. Your vet will be able to determine the underlying cause for your cat’s weight loss and suggest a course of treatment for it.
Tips for Helping an Underweight Cat Gain Weight
Treating the underlying cause of your cat’s weight loss is essential, but you may also need to make changes to his diet and lifestyle to help him get back to a healthy body weight.
Here are some additional tips to help an underweight cat gain weight:
- Try switching to a new flavor profile—many cats change their tastes as they age and may respond to a different protein option.
- Increase the quality of your cat’s diet to improve digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
- Switch to a wet food or try using a meal topper to make your cat’s current food more palatable and appealing.
- Stick to structured feeding times, leaving the food out for only 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
- Try warming up your cat’s food by adding warm water or broth.
- Feed your cat three to four smaller meals throughout the day instead of two larger meals.
Just increasing the amount of food you feed your cat may not be enough to help him gain weight, especially if he has low appetite. Talk to your veterinarian first and then consider switching to a nutritionally balanced cat food high in protein, fat, and calories to help your cat gain weight.
12 Best Cat Foods for Weight Gain
To help your cat gain weight, you may want to switch to a nutritionally balanced cat food made with at least 30% protein and 20% fat. Choose a recipe made primarily with animal ingredients to improve palatability as well as digestibility, keeping an eye out for beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics.
Here are our top picks for the best cat food for weight gain:
Loaded with protein and calories, this dry food consists of high-protein kibble infused with freeze-dried raw bites of real meat like duck and quail.Buy Now on Amazon for $39.99
This high-calorie wet food formula is made with 95% animal protein from chicken, turkey, and chicken liver with zero grains and no artificial additives.Buy Now on Amazon for $31.29
Loaded with 40% protein and 20% fat, this grain-free dry food packs a whopping 486 calories per cup but is still grain-free for digestibility and full of natural meat flavor.Buy Now on Amazon for $36.99
Made with real chicken, turkey, and chicken liver, this nutrient-dense canned food is rich in moisture and calories but gentle on your cat’s digestion.Buy Now on Amazon for $51.46
Made with wholesome, natural ingredients like Wild Alaskan Pollock, this recipe provides 42% protein, 20% fat, and over 450 calories per cup.Buy Now on Amazon for $13.29
Available in several protein options, this canned food is high in calories, protein, and fat but completely free from artificial additives as well as corn, wheat, and soy.Buy Now on Amazon for $38.66
Choosing a recipe for cats with food allergies can be tough, but this limited ingredient diet features real rabbit as the main ingredient and provides 35% protein and 19% fat.Buy Now on Amazon for $37.99
Made with 96% meat ingredients, this high-protein formula is loaded with natural beef flavor guaranteed to whet your cat’s appetite.Buy Now on Chewy for $42.96
This holistic, natural recipe features protein-rich salmon as the main ingredient with nutritional support from fresh fruits and vegetables and provides 400 calories per cup.Buy Now on Amazon for $23.89
Featuring real New Zealand lamb as the primary ingredient, this nutrient-rich canned food recipe provides 45% protein and 18% fat with over 100 calories per 3-ounce can.Buy Now on Amazon for $69.36
Uniquely formulated to provide highly digestible protein from numerous animal sources, this recipe is also designed to increase metabolization and boost your cat’s appetite.Buy Now on Amazon for $42.29
Designed specifically for senior cats, this grain-free recipe is packed with protein and calories to help your aging cat maintain a healthy body weight.Buy Now on Amazon for $35.99
If you want to increase the quality of your cat’s diet without increasing your budget, there are plenty of options out there. Check out our guide to the healthiest cat foods that won’t break the bank.