Does your picky cat need to gain weight?
Or maybe your senior cat is looking a bit scrawny and you’re wondering what to feed an old cat to gain weight.
You likely hear a lot about obese cats – but not much about cats who are underweight.
There’s a lot you need to know about helping your cat gain weight. And luckily, I can answer all the questions I’m sure you have.
And then I’m going to explain why Hills Science Recovery High Calorie Cat Food is the best high calorie cat food and other supplements you can find.
Our Top Picks For Grain Free Cat Foods
How Do I Know If I Have An Underweight Cat?
It’s best to visit your veterinarian if you think your cat is underweight – especially if it has come on suddenly. They will be able to advise you if there are any underlying medical problems and what you should do.
However, you may want to monitor your cat’s weight from time to time to make sure they are not losing too much.
The best way to do this is to weigh them. If you don’t have an accurate scale you may be able to pop by your vet’s office for a free weigh in every so often. Check with the office to see what they say.
You can also check to see how prominent your cat’s ribs are. If bones are noticeable whenever you pet your cat or even look at your cat – that may be a sign they should gain some weight.
The average housecat weighs about 10 pounds. But the healthy weight range can vary by breed. Do some research – and ask your vet – what a healthy weight range is for your cat.
It’s also important to keep in mind that even a pound or two below their ideal weight is 10-20% of their body weight. So, if a cat who should weigh about 10 pounds weighs 8 pounds that’s the approximate equivalent to an adult who should weigh 120 pounds weighing 96 pounds! That’s hugely underweight.
Why Might My Cat Be Underweight?
There is a long list of reasons why your cat may be underweight. These range from easy fixes, to ones which require some serious medical attention. These are typically the most common reasons your cat may be losing weight.
You’re Not Feeding Them Enough
It’s quite simple – if your cat is not eating enough, they’re going to lose weight. Maybe you’re not feeding them enough food to keep them nourished. But it’s more likely that your cat isn’t eating enough of what you are feeding them.
It’s also possible the food isn’t caloric enough for your cat. Or perhaps they simply don’t like their food.
Your Cat Has Anemia
Similar as in humans anemia in cats is when the body doesn’t carry enough red blood cells to properly move oxygen around the body. You’ll often see not only weight loss and appetite loss in your cat, but extreme lethargy.
If you notice possible anemia in your cat seek medical attention as soon as possible. Anemia can be helped greatly by supplements, medications, and other treatments.
Your Cat May Have Dental Issues
Perhaps your cat is uncomfortable when they eat – so they simply don’t. And now they are losing weight because of it. Dental issues in cats are not uncommon.
If your cat is trying to eat but seems uncomfortable dental issues may be to blame. Or if you see them pawing at their mouth that can often be a sign they are having some issues with their mouth and should be seen by a vet.
Your Cat Is Stressed Out
Cats can suffer from stress just as much as humans can. And it can certainly affect their appetite.
If you have recently moved, your cat has been sick, or you’ve had a new addition in the home, your cat may feel a bit out of sorts. And if you have suffered a great deal of stress your cat can pick up on your feelings and get stressed themselves.
Try to make your cat feel more comfortable and loved. And try your best to manage your own stress to make your cat feel better.
Your Cat Could Have Kidney Issues
There are a variety of kidney diseases and conditions which can occur as a cat gets older. And a lot of these can cause weight loss and lack of appetite in your cat. Depending on what the issue is there are usually treatments.
They May Be Suffering From IBS/IBD
These are all too common conditions affecting the intestines which can make a cat lose their appetite and lose weight.
Treatment usually involves a change in diet and maybe medications.
Your Cat Could Have Diabetes
Although it’s more common for overweight cats to develop diabetes, any cat is truly susceptible.
And weight loss can be a possible sign that your cat has developed diabetes. Treatments vary depending on symptoms.
Your Cat Is A Senior Now
As cats get older, they become less active and sometimes eat less. Plus, age is when dental issues, health problems like hyperthyroidism creep in. Not to mention that aches and pains due to arthritis and general aging become greater – which can lead to your cat feeling uncomfortable and not wanting to eat.
It’s also possible that your cat has lost their sense of smell, which can happen to some senior cats, and their food isn’t appealing to them as much as it used to be.
They Could Have A Parasite
If your cat is an outdoor cat it’s possible he could have picked up a parasite in his travels. This can cause lack of appetite, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues.
Parasites will almost always need to be treated by a veterinarian – and some can be quite dangerous to cats and even humans.
They Could Have Other Health Issues
The above issues tend to be the most common reasons why your cat may be underweight. But this is by no means an exhaustive list.
As I said above, it’s always best to take your cat to see their vet if you notice any changes in their health, appearance, or behavior.
So, Tell Me How to Fatten Up A Cat
When it comes to ways to help your cat gain weight you’ve got many options.
If you’re not feeding your cat enough food, you could simply start with feeding them a little more. Or if you are only feeding your cat dry food – you may want to add wet food. Most cats tend to prefer wet canned cat food over dry. You can also feed them both – just watch they don’t suddenly get too much food.
But there are also a ton of high calorie cat foods out there that will help your cat gain weight as well.
I know this is also a food, but kitten food gets its own category. Kitten food is meant to add a lot of healthy fats, nutrients, and calories to support a growing cat. So, chances are it will bulk up your cat, even if she is no longer a kitten.
There are supplements you can give your cat to boost their appetite and add flavor to food. These come in all different forms but are usually highly palatable gels or other liquids which are either given to your cat before they eat their regular food or mixed into it.
Appetite Stimulating Drugs
If your cat is extremely underweight or has major health concerns that require them to gain weight very fast your vet can prescribe some medications to stimulate their appetite.
These are generally a last resort choice however, and again, only give your cat these if they have been prescribed by your veterinarian.
There are high calorie cat treats and other snacks you can feed your cat to bulk up their weight.
There are some cat food recipes using human food which can help some cats gain weight. Since a lot of human food isn’t good for cats you would only want to do this if you received the recipe from a professional.
What Are Some Other Ways I Can Help My Cat Eat More And Gain Weight?
If your cat simply doesn’t eat their food, there are a few ways you can help your cat eat more.
Feed Smaller Meals More Frequently
Maybe your cat only likes to eat a little bit at a time. Or maybe your cat is suffering from aches and pains, or dental issues, and they can only eat a little at a time.
So instead of feeding your cat a full serving once a day – feed them a smaller amount 3-4 times throughout the day.
Watch Where You Feed Them
Cats don’t like a lot of distraction while they eat. So, if you’re feeding them in highly trafficked areas of your home, chances are they may feel rushed – and not eat as much.
So feed your cat in a room that isn’t highly trafficked, or at least make sure they are in a corner or tucked away where they can eat in peace.
And don’t put your cat’s bowls close to their litter box. Just like you probably wouldn’t like to eat your meals in the bathroom, they don’t either.
Don’t Watch Them Eat
Although you may want to, especially if you’re concerned that your cat isn’t eating it’s not a good idea to watch your cat while they eat. Being watched may make them shy away from their food, even if you are encouraging them to eat.
And tempting as it may be, try not to peek in on your cat to check if they are eating. Feed your cat in their own area, leave them alone, then return later to check how much of their food they ate.
Feed Your Cats Separately From Each Other
If you have multiple cats, they may appreciate being fed apart from one another as well. Occasionally one cat can “bully” the others and nudge in to eat their food, which can mean that cat isn’t getting enough food.
Warm Up Their Food
Warmed up food produces more of an aroma and can therefore stimulate your cat’s hunger – and make the food more palatable. And some cats just don’t like the feeling of cold food in their mouth. So, they’ll respond a lot better to room temperate or warmed up food.
A small scoop on a plate only takes a few seconds in the microwave. Don’t make it so hot it will burn your cat!
Keep Their Eating Area Clean
If you simply dump new food on top of dried up bits of old food, you cat may reject their food. It can potentially be dangerous for your cat to eat food that has been sitting out for long periods of time – especially if it is warm. Plus, the dried-up bits could be too hard for your cat to eat – leading them to turn away from the whole plate.
You also want to make sure their water bowl is fresh and clean. Even if their food bowl is clean, they may be turned off by a dirty water bowl beside it. Especially if they like to drink before or after they eat.
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About Helping My Cat Gain Weight Safely?
If you start giving your cat one of the weight gain options, you need to then watch them carefully to make sure they do start to gain weight.
And you also need to watch your cat very carefully to make sure they don’t get any side effects. Make sure your cat doesn’t get any gastrointestinal issues or any other strange symptoms from the new food.
And although it may seem like a good thing, if their weight gain comes on very fast that can harm your cat.
Sometimes when you’re excited that your cat is gaining weight it can be hard to stop them at the point when they’ve gained enough.
It truly is best to be under a veterinarian’s care during the time your cat is gaining weight. And it’s also very important to monitor them yourself. After all, you certainly don’t want your cat to go from being underweight to being overweight – that’s just exchanging one health issue for another.
What Else Do I Need To Know About Buying High Calorie And Weight Gain Cat Food?
Watch out for the words “weight control” as these foods generally are formulated for overweight cats to help them lose weight. So, this will only make your cat’s weight issue even worse.
Although they may not specifically add extra calories like other foods and supplements will, high protein cat foods are usually enough to do the trick for cats who are only slightly underweight and in good overall health.
You must watch out for high fat content in weight gain formula cat food. As in humans, high fat foods can lead to health issues over time. These foods should only be used for short periods of time, and under the supervision of a vet.
Basically, you need to make sure the food you are buying has a good blend of nutrients and not just fat and calories.
Why Might I Choose A Supplement Over A High Calorie Cat Food?
If your cat loves their food maybe you don’t want to mess with it. So, adding a supplement to it is a great choice.
There are a lot of great quality weight gain supplements for cats out there to boost the nutrients and calories in your cat’s food.
How Can I Successfully Switch Over My Cat’s Food?
Whenever you are switching your cat’s food, you’ll want to do it slowly. Most cats don’t take well to changes in their food so switching from one food to another from feed to feed may leave them confused and rejecting their food – even if they like it.
So, over a few days to a week period add a little bit of your cat’s new food into their old food each time you feed them. Do this until you’re completely feeding only the new food.
What Are The Best High Calorie Cat Foods And Supplements To Help My Cat Gain Weight?
As I mentioned above there are a ton of weight gain and high-calorie cat foods out there. But they are not all made the same!
I have done a lot of tests and done a lot of research and have come up with the best foods and supplements for you to consider to help your cat gain weight.
- Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d K9/Fel Critical Care
- NutriCal by VETOQUINOL
- Miracle Vet High Calorie Weight Gainer For Dogs & Cats
- “I and Love and you” Essential Grain Free Can Cat Food
- CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food
- IAMS Proactive Health Healthy Dry Cat Food
- Oxbow Animal Health Carnivore Care Supplement
Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d K9/Fel Critical Care
Best Overall Choice
This is your best overall choice for most cats.
It’s also a fantastic high calorie cat food for senior cats.
Hill’s has formulated this food to feed to cats who have very little to no appetite. This food is designed to be a high calorie cat food for sick and injured cats and is especially meant to be fed when a cat is recovering from an illness to help add some calories into their diet – and keep up their strength during recovery.
However, it’s still a good food for any cat who has trouble eating or needs more calories and digestible protein.
This formula of cat food is extremely palatable and easy to digest. Most cats just love the flavor and are more than happy to eat it.
The highly digestible proteins help to preserve and add to body mass, help strengthen their immune system, and help aid with any healing.
This food is even soft enough to spoon feed your cat if necessary.
The one thing about this food is that most vets don’t recommend your cat be on this food for long periods of time. So, you’ll want to consult with your vet about when to start and stop this formula.
NutriCal by VETOQUINOL
Best Weight Gain Paste
This is your best budget paste weight gain option.
This is a paste you give to your cat to provide them with extra calories.
It’s a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals, plus omegas to provide a strong immune system, and a healthy coat.
You can feed this (always follow proper dosage amounts) directly as a snack from the tube. Let your cat lick it off your finger or give it to them in a small bowl. Or you can mix it in with their regular food to make it more appealing.
Now, NutriCal cat weight gain supplement does contain molasses and malt syrup, which really aren’t the healthiest ingredients. But those ingredients are what is going to make this so appealing for your cat.
Miracle Vet High Calorie Weight Gainer For Dogs & Cats
Best Overall Weight Gain
This is your best overall weight gain supplement option.
This dietary supplement is a liquid you can either squirt directly into your cat’s mouth or mix it in easily with their food.
Miracle Vet contains 150 calories per ounce – and 130 of these calories are from healthy fats.
Fish oil is the #1 ingredient and has tons of nutritional value to your cat’s diet. It also contains a whipping 29 vitamins and minerals to help keep your cat’s health at its best.
This formula is made from a healthy, high-quality protein to bulk up your cat.
The ingredient list for this product is totally great – it contains zero artificial flavors or additives.
Admittedly, this formula isn’t the cheapest weight gainer out there, but it’s totally worth the cost for all the benefits it gives.
“I and Love and you” Essential Grain Free Can Cat Food
This is your best grain free option.
This variety pack of wet canned cat food provides flavors your cat will love.
Protein rich meat is always the first ingredient and there are no fillers in this food.
“I and Love and you” is always grain free. They use nutrient rich sweet potatoes in their formulas instead of any grains. So, this makes it an excellent choice for cats who have allergies or food intolerances.
There is no carrageenan or any other fillers, by-product meats, artificial preserves, artificial flavors, wheat, soy, corn, or rice in this canned cat food.
Omegas 3 & 6 add healthy fats to keep your cat at their optimum health, and give them a soft, shiny coat.
Now, although this is an extremely good cat food your cat will love, it isn’t specifically formulated to add extra calories. But, as I mentioned above, sometimes all you need is to switch over to a high quality, high protein food to encourage them to eat more and gain the optimum health benefits.
CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food
Dry Food Weight Gainer
This is your best dry cat food weight gain option.
This high protein cat food gives your cat all the essential nutrients they need for proper digestion, developing muscle, and supporting their immune system.
Real chicken is the #1 ingredient and it contains no meat by-products or other unnecessary ingredients.
And it’s also grain free so it’s ideal for cats with allergies or food sensitivities.
In fact, their grain free recipes are inspired by the cat’s ancestral diet – going back to what cats ate in the wild. This food provides energy from healthy carbohydrates, rather than grains.
This is another food which isn’t made specifically for weight gain. But when your cat gets high quality protein and other nutrients from this food it will likely lead to your cat gaining some weight. So, this may be a good choice for a cat who is only slightly underweight.
IAMS Proactive Health Healthy Dry Cat Food
Just For Kitties
This is your best kitten food option.
As I mentioned above kitten food is sometimes used to help bulk up your cat because it contains a lot of calories.
This food also contains 33% crude protein as well as 21% crude fat. It contains a nice blend of vitamins and minerals, as well as taurine to help with vision, and amino acids to boost the immune system.
And since this food is formulated for kittens the dry pellets are smaller and easier to eat. Which may make this a great choice for cats who have mouth pain or who just don’t like larger chunks.
Oxbow Animal Health Carnivore Care Supplement
This is your best powdered supplement option.
This supplement is a premium recovery food designed for animals who need extra calories to recover from illness or surgery.
It contains a whopping 216-312 calories per serving to help your cat gain weight fast.
Their custom blend contains omega fatty acids, as well as high levels of protein derived from whole egg and dried chicken. It does not contain any organ meat or grains.
Cats love to eat this, and it’s extremely easy on the digestive system. You simply add water to the powdered formula and mix.
So, Tell Me The Very Best Cat Food For Weight Gain
All these foods and supplements are fantastic choices to help your cat gain some much-needed weight. And since all of them have their pros and cons you may find one works better for your cat than others. Plus, you may prefer one for ease of use over the others as well.
But since people always ask me to recommend the very best, in my opinion that one is Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d K9/Fel Critical Care.
This food contains highly digestible proteins, high levels of potassium needed for absorption, and extra calories. And I like the fact that it’s soft so cats who have dental issues, or those who are old are still able to eat it.
Overall, it’s just a fantastic high calorie wet cat food.