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The best cat food for weight gain isn’t just calorie-dense. It’s bursting with concentrated, species-appropriate nutrition.

It has plenty of protein, animal-sourced fat, and micronutrients to support both healthy muscle tone and overall wellbeing. And if your cat is underweight due to a health condition, the right food addresses that disorder.

At A Glance: Best Cat Food For Weight Gain To Buy

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Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Overall Best
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula

  • Moisture-rich canned food supports overall health
  • Made with highly-digestible animal protein
  • High in calories to help your cat gain weight
Best Ethically-Sourced
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Open Farm Grass-Fed Beef Rustic Blend Wet Food

  • Made with a single source of premium animal protein
  • Formulated with 100% human-grade, traceable ingredients
  • Contains the moisture your cat needs for hydration
Best Wet Cat Food
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food

  • Made with 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver
  • Highly palatable pate texture is easy to eat
  • Rich in the moisture and protein cats need
BEST FOR SENIOR CATS
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat Food

  • Specially formulated for cats in desperate need of nutrition
  • Increased potassium
  • Calorie-dense and made with highly-digestible animal protein
Best for Sensitive Stomach
9.5
Picked by 25 people today!

Hound & Gatos Chicken Cat Food

  • Made with 98% fresh meat and nourishing animal protein
  • Zero carbohydrate content
  • Calorie-dense to promote weight gain
Budget Pick
9.4
Picked by 21 people today!

Go! Sensitivity + Shine Grain-Free Duck Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food

  • Made with a nourishing concentration of animal protein
  • Calorie-dense to help cats put on weight
  • Soft pate texture is easy for senior cats to eat
Premium Pick
9.4
Picked by 31 people today!

Nature’s Logic Feline Chicken Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

  • Contains over 90% species-appropriate animal protein
  • Includes organ and muscle meat
  • Calorically dense to help cats gain weight

We recommend Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula as the best cat food for weight gain. In addition to being one of the highest-calorie canned foods you can buy, this food is rich in animal-sourced protein for healthy muscle tone and has a silky-soft texture that’s easy on senior cats’ teeth.

We’ll talk more about this Wellness CORE recipe and our other top 7 recommendations later. For now, let’s discuss the qualities of the best cat food for weight gain.

What Is The Best Cat Food For Weight Gain?

Chiefly, the best cat food for weight gain is one that addresses the root of your cat’s weight problem.

Again, your cat’s unique situation dictates their dietary needs.

Generally speaking, an abnormally low weight is the result of either a poor appetite, mouth problems, or a condition that’s preventing the cat from maintaining a healthy weight. The latter category includes intestinal worms or a thyroid condition like hyperthyroidism.

Also Read: Best Cat Dewormer – Top 5 OTC Cat Dewormers

In most cases, this means that the best cat foods for weight gain provide a combination of palatability and calorie density.

Remember that senior cats need high-quality protein to prevent muscle wasting.

Senior cats, with their tendency to lose muscle mass and become “skinny old cats”, are usually the first group to require food for weight gain. It was once recommended that senior cats eat low-protein diets due to a possible connection between excessive protein and the kidney failure experienced by so many senior cats.

More current research, however, indicates that a diet rich in high-quality animal protein can help prevent sarcopenia of aging – the muscle wasting associated with old age. Cats are still carnivores, so protein is an essential part of your cat’s diet, regardless of his weight.

Click here for a list of the best cat foods for senior cats.

If your cat has a poor appetite, choose foods and supplements that help to rev up their desire to eat.

It’s terrifying to watch your cat refuse meal after meal. Because it’s so important to ensure that your cat continues to take in sustenance, you’ll need to think creatively to encourage your cat to eat.

Here are a few foods, food toppers, and supplements that have a history of encouraging peckish cats to eat.

  • Bonito flakes
  • Bone broth
  • Duck fat
  • Unseasoned chicken, turkey, or beef baby food
  • Chunks of raw or cooked unseasoned meat
  • Canned sardines packed in water
  • Canned tuna packed in water

The following are calorie-dense diet supplements that help you to force your cat to take in calories without spending much time at the food bowl:

Click Here to Read Our Guide on The Best Probiotics for Cats

Don’t think that because it’s calorie-dense, dry cat food is necessarily the best cat food for weight gain in adult cats.

Although dry cat food is highly palatable, calorie-dense, and easy to feed, it’s usually not the best choice for weight gain.

For one, dry cat food doesn’t offer the moisture your cat requires to stay healthy and hydrated.
Secondly, dry cat food is often a bad choice for seniors and other cats with poor dental health. If your cat has lost weight due to oral pain or other dental issues, dry kibble will only exacerbate the problem.

And third, compared to wet food, dry food is more likely to contain potentially low-quality protein sources like pea protein and corn gluten meal. These are never a good choice for older cats, who require ultra-digestible protein to maintain kidney health while supporting healthy muscle mass.

Also read: Top 10 Best Healthiest Canned, Soft & Wet Cat Food

All this said, if your cat refuses to eat anything else, by all means feed them dry food.

Top 7 Best Cat Foods For Weight Gain

#1 Overall Best: Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula Canned Cat Food Review


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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 213 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Meal

Our top overall pick for the best cat food for weight gain is this grain-free chicken, turkey, and chicken liver formula from Wellness. It is a high calorie cat food with a smooth pate texture that makes it ideal for senior cats and those with dental issues.

This formula is primarily made from highly digestible and biologically valuable sources of animal-based protein including chicken, turkey, and chicken liver. It contains limited added carbohydrate and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids both from ground flaxseed and species-appropriate salmon oil.

In addition to its high protein content and abundance of hydrating moisture, this formula is free from fillers, grains, and artificial additives which helps boost its digestibility for your cat.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Meal, Turkey Liver, Dried Ground Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Guar Gum, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salmon Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 12%
Crude Fat: 7%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 54.55%
Fat: 31.82%
Fiber: 2.27%
Carbs: 11.36%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 38.1%
Fat: 53.97%
Carbs: 7.94%

What We Liked:

  • Moisture-rich canned food supports overall health
  • Made with highly-digestible animal protein
  • High in calories to help your cat gain weight
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Has a soft pate texture ideal for sensitive teeth

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains some unnecessary plant ingredients
  • Fairly expensive compared to other canned foods

#2 Best Ethically-Sourced: Open Farm Grass-Fed Beef Rustic Blend Wet Food

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Read Our Full Brand Review

Each 5.5-ounce carton contains 172 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Humanely Raised Beef, Beef Bone Broth, Pumpkin, Carrots, Spinach

Formulated with a single source of animal protein and made with 100% human-grade, easily traceable ingredients, this beef stew from Open Farm is our premium pick. This wet food formula comes packaged in a cardboard carton rather than a can, making it easy for you to close the package if you don’t use all the food for one meal.

This beef recipe wet food is supplemented with a blend of functional ingredients like non-GMO cranberries for urinary support and superfoods like dandelion greens, spinach, and carrots which provide natural sources for key nutrients.

We appreciate that this recipe is made with a single source of high-quality animal protein, but we wouldn’t mind seeing other animal-based ingredients. Organ meats, for example, would be a nutritious addition to this formula, and we’d prefer to see an animal-based fat in place of the sunflower oil or coconut oil.

While this formula does contain a significant number of plant ingredients, the dry matter carbohydrate content is only around 11%. It does seem a bit higher in fiber than necessary and we generally prefer to avoid beans and legumes like lentils and chickpeas in cat food.

Ingredients:

Humanely Raised Beef, Beef Bone Broth, Pumpkin, Carrots, Spinach, Red Lentils, Agar Agar, Non-GMO Cranberries, Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), Chicory Root, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Salt, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Dandelion Greens, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Turmeric.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 8%
Crude Fat: 6%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 44.44%
Fat: 33.33%
Fiber: 11.11%
Carbs: 11.11%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 32.56%
Fat: 59.3%
Carbs: 8.14%

What We Liked:

  • Made with a single source of premium animal protein
  • Formulated with 100% human-grade, traceable ingredients
  • Contains the moisture your cat needs for hydration
  • No fillers, by-products, or artificial additives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains a significant number of plant-based ingredients
  • Fairly expensive compared to the average cat food

#3 Runner-Up: Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food Review

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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 193 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Ground Flaxseed

Packed with protein from highly digestible animal sources, this pate style canned food is also very palatable with its soft pate texture and high moisture content.

This canned food formula from Instinct features 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver with the remaining 5% from fruits, vegetables, and nutritional supplements. This makes it a primarily meat-based formula with limited carbohydrate content and no artificial additives.

In addition to being calorie-dense and packed with protein, this formula offers balanced nutrition with a hint of omega-3 fatty acids from menhaden fish oil to support your cat’s eyes, brain, skin, and coat.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Ground Flaxseed, Montmorillonite Clay, Egg Product, Peas, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Taurine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Artichokes, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Tomato, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Parsley.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 7.5%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 34.09%
Fiber: 13.64%
Carbs: 6.82%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 33.65%
Fat: 61.3%
Carbs: 5.05%

What We Liked:

  • Primarily made from highly digestible animal protein sources
  • Relatively low carbohydrate content
  • Free from artificial additives and by-products
  • Fairly high calorie content to support weight gain

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Somewhat more expensive than market average
  • Contains some unnecessary plant ingredients

#4 Best For Senior Cats: Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat Food Review


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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 180 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Water, Turkey Liver, Pork Liver, Chicken, Turkey Heart

This prescription food from Hill’s Pet Nutrition is specially formulated for sick cats and dogs in desperate need of nutritional support. The a/d diet is recommended for cats recovering from serious illness, accidents, surgeries, along with metabolic changes.

At 180 calories per can, this is a relatively calorie-dense food formulated with animal protein sources, which help to support lean muscle mass. It has increased potassium levels to prevent potassium depletion and increased B vitamins to assist in convalescence. To increase its palatability, the food is formulated with plenty of delicious liver.

The pate texture is creamy-soft for sensitive cats, and it is rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration and healthy digestion. On the downside, it does contain some corn flour and added flavor.

Ingredients:

Water, Turkey Liver, Pork Liver, Chicken, Turkey Heart, Corn Flour, Pork Protein Isolate, Fish Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Chicken Liver Flavor, Egg Flavor, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Taurine, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Potassium Citrate, Choline Chloride, minerals (Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate), Magnesium Oxide, Beta-Carotene.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 8.5%
Crude Fat: 5.2%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 85.8%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 59.86%
Fat: 36.62%
Fiber: 3.52%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 40.23%
Fat: 59.77%

What We Liked:

  • Specially formulated for cats in desperate need of nutrition
  • Increased levels of dietary potassium
  • Calorie-dense and made with highly-digestible animal protein

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Only available for purchase with a subscription
  • Contains corn flour and some added flavor

#5 Best For Sensitive Stomach: Hound & Gatos Chicken Cat Food Review

Hound & Gatos Chicken & Chicken Liver Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat FoodBuy On Chewy Buy On Amazon

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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 201 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Calcium Carbonate, Agar-Agar

With 201 calories in each can, this is one of the most calorie-dense foods on the market. Like all Hound & Gatos foods, the recipe models a “paleolithic diet”, containing just meat, water, binders, and supplements.

The food is 98% chicken muscle meat and liver, which means that the food is rich in high-value animal protein. This helps to support healthy lean muscle mass. With such a high concentration of meat, there’s no room left for carbohydrates, making this an ideal food for cats with diabetes or a sensitive stomach.

The texture of the food is a soft pate that’s easy for cats to eat. That being said, there are a notable number of customers who report their cats disliking the flavor.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Calcium Carbonate, Agar-Agar, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Salmon Oil, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 9%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 40.91%
Fiber: 4.55%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 31.39%
Fat: 68.61%

What We Liked:

  • Made with 98% fresh meat and nourishing animal protein
  • Zero added carbohydrate content
  • Calorie-dense to promote weight gain
  • Free from artificial additives and animal by-products

What We Didn’t Like:

  • More expensive than market average
  • Notable number of cats seem to dislike the flavor

#6 Budget Pick: Go! Sensitivity + Shine Grain-Free Duck Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food Review

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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 206 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Duck Broth, Potatoes, Dried Egg Product, Flaxseed

Officially formulated for cats with allergies, this duck-based pate offers 206 calories in every can and is highly palatable for cats who need to increase their calorie intake.

The recipe begins with fresh duck as the first ingredient, followed by dried egg. Both of these are appetizing and highly-nourishing sources of animal protein and nutrients to support a healthy weight. Duck is also a novel source of protein for many cats which can further benefit cats that suffer from food intolerance or allergies.

Unfortunately, the recipe also includes potatoes, flaxseed, sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples, all of which aren’t necessary additions to your cat’s diet.

Ingredients:

Duck, duck broth, potatoes, dried egg product, flaxseed, apples, tricalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, salt, minerals (zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, cobalt amino acid chelate, potassium iodide), canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), xanthan gum, cassia gum, chicory root, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement), choline chloride, dried kelp, yucca schidigera extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 8%
Crude Fat: 6%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 36.36%
Fat: 27.27%
Fiber: 6.82%
Carbs: 29.55%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 27.52%
Fat: 50.12%
Carbs: 22.36%

What We Liked:

  • Made with a nourishing concentration of animal protein
  • Calorie-dense to help cats put on weight
  • Soft pate is easy to eat
  • Highly appetizing with very positive ratings from customers

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains some unnecessary plant ingredients

#7 Premium Pick: Nature’s Logic Feline Chicken Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

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Each 5.5-ounce can contains 230 calories.

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, Dried Egg Product

As one of the highest calorie formulas on this list, this Nature’s Logic chicken recipe is a good option for cats who need to gain weight. In addition to being high in protein, it contains the moisture your cat needs for proper hydration and it has a highly palatable, soft pate texture.

While this formula is rich in species-appropriate animal protein and healthy fats, it is a little higher in carbohydrate than we’d like to see. The inclusion of dried fruits and vegetables is fairly significant, but it does help negate the need for synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements.

This recipe is completely free from artificial additives, and it is a single source of animal protein. Nature’s Logic canned food also comes in beef, turkey, rabbit, and fish flavors.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, Dried Egg Product, Porcine Plasma, Montmorillonite Clay, Herring Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Apple, Dried Apricot, Alfalfa Meal, Dried Artichoke, Dried Blueberry, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrot, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Cranberry, Dried Kelp, Dried Parsley, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Rosemary, Dried Spinach, Dried Tomato, Egg Shell Meal, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 11%
Crude Fat: 9%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 72%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 39.29%
Fat: 32.14%
Fiber: 10.71%
Carbs: 17.86%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 29.06%
Fat: 57.74%
Carbs: 13.21%

What We Liked:

  • Contains over 90% species-appropriate animal protein
  • Herring oil as primary fat provides omega-3 fatty acids
  • Concentrated source of calories, protein, and essential nutrients
  • No artificial additives or synthetic supplements

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Very expensive compared to market average
  • Higher than average carb content for a canned food

Before You Choose a Food, You Need to Know Why Your Cat Is Underweight.

Unlike obesity in cats, underweight cats are seldom the result of simply eating the wrong food or getting the wrong amount of exercise.

If your cat is underweight, the problem almost invariably goes much deeper than the food bowl. While it’s a good idea to choose high-calorie food that will help your cat gain weight, it’s more important to identify the cause of their weight issue and treat your cat accordingly.

But before we go any further, you need to confirm that your cat is, indeed, underweight. Consult the following body condition chart to evaluate your cat’s figure.

cat body condition chart

Credit: Purina

If your cat is a 1, 2, 3, or 4 according to this body condition chart, they’re considered too thin and it’s time to intervene.

Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Underweight:

If your cat is in the “too thin” weight class, think about taking them to your veterinarian for a health evaluation. Your vet can help you determine your cat’s ideal weight and how to achieve it.
Some of the most common causes for underweight in cats include:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Worms or intestinal parasites
  • Poor dental health
  • Stress
  • Inadequate nutrition

The above list is far from complete, and it’s almost impossible to diagnose the cause of your cat’s low weight at home. Your veterinarian will help you determine if any underlying medical problems are the cause for your cat’s weight issues and the best form of treatment to resolve them.

Different root problems demand unique treatment plans. For instance, a diabetic cat needs a low-carbohydrate diet, while a cat with chronic kidney disease requires low levels of phosphorus.

Still searching for the best cat food for weight gain? Click here for an in-depth list of cat food products with nutrition information.

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About Mallory Crusta

Mallory is the Head of Content at All About Cats. Having produced and managed multimedia content across several pet-related domains, Mallory is dedicated to ensuring that the information on All About Cats is accurate, clear, and engaging. When she’s not reviewing pet products or editing content, Mallory enjoys skiing, hiking, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She has two cats, Wessie and Forest.