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10 Healthy High-Calorie Foods for Undernourished Cats

Sandy Robins

By Sandy Robins
8/10/2020

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There are many reasons a cat or kitten could be severely under-nourished and need a high-calorie cat food to help gain weight and boost general feline health and wellbeing. Fortunately, there’s a great selection of both wet and dry recipes, all readily available off the shelf, that can be a nutritious fix.

A high-calorie cat food offers cats a well-balanced diet that features protein – meat, fish or poultry -- as first ingredient and contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. 
Because cats often have preferences when it comes to taste and textures, under such special circumstances, it’s a good idea to cater to a feline’s favorites, particularly, if the cat needs encouragement to eat or is a fussy eater.

Measuring dry cat food calories

Dry food recipes show the calorie content of a cup of food in Kcals. For example, a recipe that has 497 kcal/cup ME (metabolizable energy) means that one cup = 8 oz of that food = 497 calories. 

Measuring wet cat food calories

Cans and pouches show the kcal content in terms of the weight of the food, for example 96 kcal/3oz can or 177 kcal/5.5oz can. 

When to feed a high calorie cat food:

  • When a cat or kitten that has just been rescued and is severely malnourished.
  • For a frail or elderly feline.
  • For a sick cat that has lost weight as a result and now needs to regain weight.
  • Post-surgery to boost a quicker recovery. 
  • For very picky eaters who are not getting enough proper nourishment.
  • For a cat that may have run away in a storm, been trapped in a natural disaster or, displaced over a holiday period, and not eaten for a several days.
  • When a cat is suffering from stress and anxiety as a result of a change of circumstances in a household.
  • For cats with dental issues (once they have had veterinary help to resolve the issue and quell any pain).

How to feed an under-nourished cat

Selecting a high-quality natural food rich in meat proteins is a great way of helping finicky eaters find a food they will love and eat. A texture your cat most enjoys will matter too, confirms WellPet veterinarian Danielle Bernal DVM.

“A frail or ill cat may prefer to eat multiple smaller meals rather than being fed one big meal."

But given that cats generally are nibblers and prefer to eat on demand, Bernal suggests that the main focus is ensuring that the cat gets the required number of calories needed in a diet to meet its nutrient requirements.

Young kittens generally require more meals in a day. However, if you are trying to boost the health of a severely under-nourished kitten, Bernal advises more frequent feeding. 

“A very young kitten will need to eat more frequently than just key meals,” confirms Bernal. “I usually suggest just ad-libbing it until eight weeks of age, dividing out their calorie requirements. Then four meals a day until 12 weeks of age before moving to an easier routine of twice daily. Given cats tend to eat multiple meals throughout a day however, and if you feed a wet and dry combo, I suggest leaving the allocated dry food amount out all the time so that a kitten can eat on its own schedule.”

If you are feeding a cat a high-calorie cat food because of a special situation, it’s a good idea to have a discussion with your pet’s veterinarian or call the Wellness consumer hotline for advice regarding feeding the correct amounts to meet such specific needs. We're available Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm ET at 800-225-0904.

10 high-calorie cat food recipes

1. Wellness Complete Health with Wholesome Grains dry food

Calorie content: 3,873 kcal/kg or 472 kcal/cup ME

Wellness Complete Health with Wholesome Grains in Salmon is a well-rounded diet that features salmon as the first ingredient and focuses on improving general wellbeing such as skin and coat health with guaranteed levels of omega fatty acids from salmon, flaxseed and added vitamin E. The right balance of protein and fat will help with muscle tone and the fortified with vitamins and minerals will boost the immune system.

2. Wellness CORE Original dry food

Calorie content: 3,977 kcal/kg or 497 kcal/cup ME

This grain-free, nutrient-dense recipe is made with deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal and Chicken Meal and helps support optimal health and digestion with 65% high quality protein content and added probiotics.

3. Wellness CORE RawRev Original + 100% Raw Turkey

Calorie content: 3,871 kcal/kg or 484 kcal/cup ME

This high-protein, grain-free kibble is combined with 100% pure bites of freeze-dried turkey liver. These raw pieces are incredibly tasty and provide a boost of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals in their most natural state. This combination boosts good health supporting lean muscle, healthy weight and a shiny, healthy coat.

4. Wellness Complete Health Pâté Beef & Salmon wet food

Calorie content:

  • 1,133 kcal/kg ME 96 kcal/3oz can
  • 177 kcal/5.5oz can
  • 401 kcal/12.5oz can

Pâté recipes are very easy for cats to both eat and digest and this formula is an excellent source of high-quality protein and essential fatty acids, made with natural, wholesome ingredients free from grains, carrageenan, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

5. Wellness CORE Pâté Beef, Venison & Lamb wet food

Calorie content:

  • 1,184 kcal/kg ME
  • 101 kcal/3oz can
  • 185 kcal/5.5oz can

Another protein rich pâté recipe free from carrageenan, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives to give your cat the energy it needs to thrive.

6. Wellness CORE Hearty Cuts Chicken & Turkey wet food

Calorie content:

  • 991 kcal/kg ME
  • 154 kcal/5.5oz can

Make mealtime meatier with thick hearty cuts of chicken and turkey in a rich, delicious gravy mixed with superfoods such as carrots and spinach to support inner wellness.

7. Wellness CORE 95% Turkey wet food

Calorie content:

  • 1,389 kcal/kg ME
  • 217 kcal/5.5oz can

This 95% animal protein recipe is ideal for cats that need a nutritional boost for any lifestyle issue. Because cats are obligate carnivores, this smooth pâté recipe will win on taste too.

8. Wellness CORE 95% Beef & Chicken wet food

Calorie content:

  • 1,327 kcal/kg ME
  • 207 kcal/5.5oz can

This is another popular choice in the CORE 95% line-up offering a nutritional super boost.

For Kittens:

9. Wellness CORE Kitten Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Deboned Chicken dry food

Calorie content: 3,977 kcal/kg or 497 kcal/cup ME

This specially formulated kitten kibble recipe is nutrient-dense and supports optimal health and development with 55% high quality protein ingredients and added DHA from salmon oil.

10. Wellness CORE Pâté Kitten Chicken & Turkey wet food

Calorie content:

  • 1,273 kcal/kg ME
  • 108 kcal/3oz can
  • 199 kcal/5.5oz can

This protein focused diet is specially formulated to give kittens the energy needed to thrive and grow.

Fortunately, there are many more options offered by the various brands listed above. Be sure to check the ingredients list to select the ones that have the highest metabolic energy (ME) values to guarantee your feline is getting the calories she needs for good health.
Do you have a cat or kitten that enjoys one of the Wellness Complete Health or Wellness CORE recipes?

Please share your photos with us by tagging #wellnesspetfood and @wellnesspetfood for a chance to be featured on our website or social pages!

About This Page

Pet Type:

Cat

Topic:

Health & Nutrition Diet

Date:

8/10/2020

Author:

Sandy Robins
Sandy Robins

As one of the country’s leading multi-media pet lifestyle experts, Sandy Robins documents the wonderful relationship that we have with our pets highlighting trends and innovative ideas as they happen. She is the winner of the Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award, presented by the American Pet Products Association.

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